Doing Less, Part II

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Good morning! I’m having a mighty fine morning.  I slept well, rose early, and hammered out some work.  Wahoo! 


(James wanted me to let you know that the winner of Maggie’s birthday giveaway is Mela!  Congrats!)


Breakfast included Panda Puffs, salty pumpkin seeds, blueberries, and blackberries.  I love all the competing sweet/salty flavors. 


So, the comments on my Doing Less post were SO good.  Truly.  Not surprisingly, the feeling of getting bogged down by the day-to-day tasks and losing sight of the big picture is pretty common!   Whether we simply have too much on our plate or we’re just too distracted by Facebook and Twitter (guilty as charged), it is possible to take control back and f-o-c-u-s on what really matters.  You just have to make the effort!


You all had such good feedback and advice on how to thwart this problem… I thought I’d share a few of the standout thoughts:


Kelly said, “One of my resolutions this year was to work on “being present.” I have so much rollin’ around in this silly head of mine, and I THINK I am multitasking, but alas, nothing gets done or it takes me forever. If I work on one task, finish it and then move onto the others, then I feel better, I feel more productive, I feel more calm.”


Katie of Cabbage Ranch said, “My enemies are procrastination and sidetracking. I help myself most by making a To Do list. If something doesn’t make the task list, that means it’s not a priority.”


Leanne (Bride to Mrs,) and Lauren both recommended the Zen Habits website!


Megan @ On the Road Again said, “One of the ways I get through the days is to think about what I DID get accomplished that day. Focusing on what does get done helps me to destress over all of the things I haven’t gotten to yet.”


Sarah @ w30 swears by sniffing peppermint oil.  She says it helps relax her and improve her concentration.


Erin says, “I have found that keeping LOTS of visual reminders of the Big Picture really helps. I have my yearly goals posted above my desk, I have the same thing at my work desk, I keep quotes and sayings that motivate me everywhere and finally, I love just sitting with a cup of tea and some toast and day dreaming about the future. It gives me time to just think about my goals and where I want to be.”


Michelle recommended the Cerra website.  She said, “I rolled my eyes at it at first, but then I figured, I need a break. I’ve only done 2 of them, but I gotta say, it calmed and centered me and I felt like I had more perspective after.”


Rachel said, “I actually make my work email passwords variations of “Focus” (with other stuff added in). It reminds me of the game plan every single time I log in.”



  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife August 17, 2011, 9:18 am

    Whoa, those are some fabulous comments! I too try to make to-do lists, think of what I did at the end of the day, and I also like taking short breaks to stretch. I feel like stretching breaks improves my concentration and helps me focus MORE 🙂

    SOunds like your day is off to a fab start, Caitlin 🙂

  • kalli August 17, 2011, 9:29 am

    thanks for sharing these Caitlin! great suggestions……i have to learn to slow down and realize that not everything can get done when i want it to.

  • Meaghan (My Spoonful Of Inspiration) August 17, 2011, 9:32 am

    I love the idea of making your password have to do do with the word ‘focus’- I should make my Facebook password ‘distraction’ 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP August 17, 2011, 4:37 pm

      hahah yeah, me too!

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday August 17, 2011, 9:34 am

    Thanks for sharing that Cerra website. I’ve never heard of that before but it seems like a really great site.

    I’m going to explore it a little more (…and hopefully it’s not too much of a distraction)

  • Amy August 17, 2011, 9:34 am

    Love your mantra and the comments that it inspired. I just read another really good tip in Whole Living magazine– “protect the margins of your day”– that is, schedule no more than 80% of your day- leaving 20% for just dealing with life. That way, the inevitable “things that come up” don’t turn into major stressors!

  • Chloe (In Fine Feather) August 17, 2011, 9:39 am

    These are great – being present is what I’m going to try and do today. I’ve just moved, which is stressful, but I’m trying to check off one thing at a time instead of worrying about my overwhelming to-do list!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 17, 2011, 9:40 am

    Wow these are great tips! I’m totally checking out the Cerra website and I’m already a HUGE fan of Zen Habits. It’s great to see that there are lots of us experiencing the same problem!

  • Khushboo August 17, 2011, 9:43 am

    I LOVE Rachel’s comment about making her passwords different variations of ‘FOCUS’…such a good idea!

  • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 17, 2011, 9:57 am

    Love these! I find the biggest (and often hardest) means of focus for me is to simply cut off distractions cold turkey; it’s the only way I’ll get stuff done. I also keep post it notes with reminders of where I’ve come from, where I want to go, and how to get there; for me that means being diligent and making priorities in the present. 🙂

  • Tracy @ Tracy's Treats August 17, 2011, 10:02 am

    I love the comment about focusing on the big picture. It is so easy for us to get lost in minor details that we forget what we’re working towards. I think putting everything into perspective helps keep you motivated and prevents you from worrying over the small things!

  • Kerri August 17, 2011, 10:09 am

    Thanks for sharing some of your faves from yesterday. I thought about the post from yesterday on my way home from work! Lately I have been trying to really be present and focus on what is important in my life and taking a little bit of extra time to “smell the roses”. Sounds cheesy, but I’ve been much happier the past few months in taking this approach. Yoga has also been a huge help 🙂

  • Natalie S. August 17, 2011, 10:15 am

    The “focus” password variation is really interesting! And I can definitely get behind sniffing peppermint oil. It eases my headaches too!

  • CJ @ August 17, 2011, 10:15 am

    Those really are great suggestions!!! I love making to do lists and literally scratching things off. It feels awesome to see that you’ve had a productive day and reflect back on accomplishments 🙂

  • DadHTP August 17, 2011, 10:16 am

    On a related subject, decision making, here’s some extremely interesting information on some of the effects of glucose on will power, and avoiding impulsive decision making. A little technical in spots but read it through –

  • Katie August 17, 2011, 10:23 am

    I have the same blanket James is snuggling on. I am obsessed with it… as is my cat. Glad you’re having a calmer, less stressful day today.

  • Sarah August 17, 2011, 10:30 am

    To-do lists, focusing on one thing at a time (I get so easily distracted), and focusing on what I DID accomplish in a day help me, too. Thanks for posting such fabulous tips- it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my struggles to FOCUS sometimes.

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good August 17, 2011, 10:45 am

    I swear by to-do lists, and it does help. When I get stressed, I also tend to get crabby, so I have to really try to manage things. I don’t want to be a grouch! And we have to pick and choose. If this is a really busy work week, I’m probably not spending as much time cleaning the house, for example. (Hey, the dirt will wait for me, right? ;))

  • Emily @ Write Twenty Eleven August 17, 2011, 10:49 am

    These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing the input from your readers. We can all learn so much from each other!

  • Tim August 17, 2011, 11:03 am

    Hi Caitlin! I’m a new reader of your blog and am really enjoying it. Where are Panda Puffs available for purchase? Can they be found in grocery stores or do they need to be bought online? Thanks, and keep up the great work!!

    • CaitlinHTP August 17, 2011, 4:37 pm

      I’ve found at Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Trader Joes!

      • Tim August 18, 2011, 6:34 am

        Thanks! I was in Walmart last night and found that they sell Panda Puffs, so I picked up a box. They are fantastic!!

  • Sweet and Savvy August 17, 2011, 11:22 am

    I love all those comments! I also like to pin up quotes of inspirational people around me when I work. I love Einstein and Maya Angelou quotes!

  • Aine @ Something to Chew Over August 17, 2011, 11:24 am

    These are great tips! I definitely need to work on being present and focusing on the moment.

  • Sarah @ The Strength of Faith August 17, 2011, 11:45 am

    This is great advice. I’ve been on a journey to find balance in my life and recently wrote a post – – about “choosing mountains”. Basically, when I start freaking out about the little stuff, especially when I have a lot going on, I ask myself the question, “Is this the mountain I want to die on?” It’s been helpful in letting go of the small stuff.

  • Rosie August 17, 2011, 11:48 am

    I just wanted to say that you have been a major help, Caitlin, by bringing a new mantra into my life: don’t let the future spoil the present. I have benefited so much from bringing my focus back into the “right here, right now” frame of mind. I have a silver bangle engraved with “it’s just a ride”, but I’m getting a second engraving added to it “be here now”. I tend to obsess and over-think, and then spoil things more by regretting not enjoying what I had. THANK YOU xx

    • CaitlinHTP August 17, 2011, 4:38 pm

      🙂 I love your bangle idea. Thank you!

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss August 17, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I love the one about focusing on what we did get accomplished. Sometimes we tend to get so lost in the big picture that we don’t realize what actually had gotten accomplished!

  • Amber K August 17, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I really liked the last post and this post as well. There were so many great comments to read through. It definitely seems like this is a widespread problem. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and focus. Attempting to make the right decisions for my current path has thrown me for a bit of a loop. But doing less will help me accomplish more in the long run!

  • Carolina John August 17, 2011, 2:28 pm

    I’m actually a big fan of the Zen Habits site too. Sometimes I have to just breathe to keep my perspective clean.

  • Kate August 17, 2011, 2:30 pm

    i decided to check out the zen habits website and i LOVE it!!! i definitely need to practice being in the moment more instead of worrying about the next day or even plans that are hours away. this is awesome!

  • Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers August 17, 2011, 3:13 pm

    Deep down I know that I’m *less* productive at least half the time when I’m multitasking. I need to cut that down and focus on one thing at a time. It’ll feel good once I start knocking stuff off my to-do list.

  • Lexi @ A Spoonful of Sunshine August 17, 2011, 3:45 pm

    I love how the concept of “being present” is always furthered in yoga.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one that has said this, but I love how it coaxes me to let go of the past and future. By the end of the class, I always feel that I’m better able to actively engage in what is happening now.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 17, 2011, 7:28 pm

    I really like Erin’s idea to put up motivational quotes around my workspace. If I get some nice frames for them, it will look really cute!

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