Squirrel!

One of the greatest problems that I face on a daily basis is that of a lack of focus. I love to do so many things – taking and editing photos, creating designs for websites and books, programming – that when I’m fired up, it’s difficult to know where to start and where – or even when – to stop. This carries through into many aspects of my life; in the office, it’s rare that I work efficiently as I get distracted very easily by other ideas and other things to do. A piece of work which should take a couple of hours often takes all day, albeit interspersed with other little tasks and achievements. At home, I have to make a conscious effort to unwind and not keep thinking about new ideas. This gets so difficult sometimes, that I end up dreaming about solutions to problems, and drift off to sleep with my brain whirring away.

The problem seems to stem from two sources: the fact that I practise one of my hobbies – that of web programming – for a living; and that I am too much of a perfectionist. Where other people may have a clear separation between what they do for a living and what they do to relax, there is always a mix for me. If only by getting in the car and driving home, I have to separate my work and home life physically. That’s why I have always chosen not to work close to where I live, as the time I have between the office and home is a valuable buffer, during which I can wind up or down slowly.

Perfectionism is a pain in the arse, frankly, and it’s one which I’m having to work on. I see so many things every day, from web designs to technical solutions, which I know that I could improve upon. Even now, sitting in the office at lunchtime as I write this, I glance over at a colleague browsing a clothing website. Despite the fact that I am writing a blog post on retaining focus, I stop, mid-flow, and want to see what website it is and whether I can learn anything from it on a technical or creative level.

A two week holiday, in which I achieved and saw so much and spent time with so many people, has been a fresh inspiration to try and apply my focus more, and to apply it to that which is most important. Stopping to smell the flowers instead of cataloguing them. Slowing down on trying to achieve so much, when using my drive to solve lesser problems means that I have less time to enjoy the more important things.

My drive is hardly likely to fall for some years to come, and it’s time that I applied it more usefully. Instead of spending hours wrangling with technology to achieve a perfect result, it’s time to reduce my strive for perfectionism and learn the true value of “good enough”.