Find Your Little Green Owl: Focus vs. Productivity

Feb 1, 2024 | Grant Writing

Little green owl

To help brush up on my Spanish (rusty but serviceable from my time as a US Peace Corps Volunteer) in the months before a trip to visit family in Chile, I started using the free version of Duolingo.

Training clients, grant development and fundraising projects, family, friends, and writing fiction quickly fill my days, leaving not a lot of time and energy to practice Spanish. But I knew that practicing every day was one of the best ways to prepare myself for deeper conversations and more enjoyment from the Christmas visit.

After taking a brief quiz I was shuttled into a series of short lessons including grammar, vocabulary, and conversational skills.

That was where the Duolingo mascot came in.

That little green owl popping up in my notifications often guilted me into spending as little as 5 minutes in focused practice. It was a friendly, but persistent reminder of a commitment I made.

Every day I’m bombarded by posts, articles, and videos admonishing me to be more productive—to do more in less time. But doing more of what? Or rather, what will doing more get me in the long term?

Focus is what really helps me get to where I want to be, not just productivity tools.

I can have the best time management techniques and applications, the most perfect journaling technique, a wizard of a virtual assistant, and an office as serene and beautiful as a sunrise.

But if I’m not steadily focused on what is most important to me, they all become a jumble of tools and tips that cluster and tangle together in the crowded toolbox in my head. And I don’t get what I really want and need.

In the next few weeks, I am focusing on “focus,” and will share my progress with you on LinkedIn. I’m still trying to figure out what the little green owl of focus will look like for me, but I’ll keep you posted.

Do you struggle with focus as a grant writer or fundraiser, nonprofit or local government pro? How do you handle it?

Kimberly Hays de Muga
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

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