Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Little More About Focus

I've been working in retail for about 3 months now. I was hired just in time for the holiday shopping season to begin. Let me tell you something: people are messy. Think about how you would feel if hoards of people came into your office and began tearing apart the filing cabinets looking for one piece of paper that you may or may not have -- every day for 3 months. Even the least organized person in the audience probably understands how unceasingly inconvenient this is.

The store that I've been working in is now moving into their inventory days, which means every item in the store needs to be counted and put back where it belongs. In the two weeks of relative peace we had between Christmas and Inventory the only job I've really had to do was recovery, i.e. putting things back where they belong and making sure that the store goes back to looking like a store rather than a freshman boy's dorm room.

I have a tendency as I'm working to go through my pile of items to be put away and bring like items back to their area. Then once I'm in that area, if I find things that are in the wrong place, I bring those things immediately to the right area even if it's in a completely different part of the store. This basically means that I end up running all over the place rather than staying within one particular area.

The other day, my manager asked me to focus on a specific section that was right near my register. She wanted me to make sure that everything was clean, put away, and organized. She asked me to ignore everything else in my department except for this one tiny area near my register. What ended up happening? At the end of my shift, that one area was spotless. There was nothing in there that shouldn't have been, there were no items on the floor, it was easy to shop through and it looked wonderful.

Why did it look so good? Because I was focused on one tiny section of the store, rather than trying to clean the entire department.

You may be thinking, what does this have to do with writing?

It's often been said that you will get more satisfaction from finishing one thing well than by half finishing several things. So rather than trying to finish 100 stories at once, why not just focus on one thing at a time? You can't cram an entire writing career into one day. You can't logically think about six different stories at once if they have nothing to tie them together. Focus on one story or one project at a time and give it everything you have. You will be so proud of what you can accomplish with just a bit of focus.


  1. Thank you for this post! It was just what I needed to hear!! =)