My theme for 2017: focus

After shooting some 15,000 frames in the past 12 months it took me a while to choose my 2016 Picture of the Year. But here it is, at last: Supermoon over Downtown.

Downtown 1710299 BLOG

I know what you’re thinking. “IT’S TOTALLY OUT OF FOCUS!” Which is why it seems like a perfect metaphor for my past year.

2016 was the year I tried to do too much. In my zeal to get better at everything, I succeeded at improving nothing. Why? Because I lacked focus.

I bought into the myth of multitasking, that doing more yields more. But as the photo above attests, maybe I would have gotten better results if I’d focused just on my photography. (Or my driving.)

That’s why I’m again copying my blog-friend Jim in choosing a theme word for the year ahead — but only one: focus. If all goes according to plan, by the end of 2017 … well, you’ll see.

I’ll leave you with some reading that informed my choice of 2017’s theme word, and with my heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, rewarding year ahead.


Want to get more done? Try “monotasking.”

Feeling anxious and scattered? Maybe it’s your multitasking.

Is time getting away from you? Here’s one way to change that perception.


  1. This is a good post to which I can relate. When I try getting too much done I just get overwhelmed to the point I get upset and end up not getting anything done. Here’s to a new year!

    • Trying to do too much *can* be paralyzing, can’t it. Well, here’s to a productive year ahead — but in moderation. 🙂 Cheers, and thank you for stopping by!

  2. I love the out of focus picture, H! Haha ; p It made me laugh immediately (always appreciate), and I find the colors quite beautiful. Cheers to your New Years resolution word!

    • The photo made me laugh too, Lara — after I got over the disappointment. But in your classic optimistic way, you’re right in pointing out that the colors are quite pretty. Cheers to you!

  3. Wow 15000 frames..yep life does get out of focus when we get tooooo busy and do to much… all the best with 2017 and happy new year again. I feel a tiny bit out of focus but gonna sort that with upped meditation in jan… speak soon

    • Best wishes with the meditation, Bella! That’s among my strategies for getting through 2017 too. Because … focus, right? Happy new year to you!

  4. You’re Mrs Lomography!

    I like the lights and the colours, though I know that wasn’t your intention. I’d say you’ve captured something about driving up to an American city in the rain. Your traffic/city lights are different from our lights here in the UK – brighter, more copious and more varied. Like West Berlin’s bright, warm lights seen from across the Berlin Wall. Life and energy. British tall buildings wear a single light on top for planes to see. Your buildings seem to wear wild neon to entertain the residents on every level. It’s all more fun.

    Your Minneapolis photo is a big, bright “Welcome, here we are”. To me. That’s what comes of letting foreigners look at photos!

    • “Mrs Lomography”? HA HA HA! You are so witty, SbE! And you’re also so right about the colorful buildings in downtown Minneapolis, which do indeed seem designed to entertain. The Target Corporation headquarters are particularly dazzling/distracting — like something you’d expect to see in Tokyo:

      And you’re right also about the different “flavor” that lighting and traffic signals can impart on a city. Venice is by far the darkest I’ve visited, but ironically it’s also my favorite city by night because of the calm and mystery that settle over the city at night.

      PS: I’m very honored whenever you stop by to look at my photos — though I consider you too much of a friend to be able to think of you as a foreigner.

      • Thank you for the Target Corporation link, H. I like it. It’s like a really joyful version of the tall buildings in ‘Bladerunner’. A happier present.

        Target seem to be an interesting company. They have a good record on philanthropy, I think?

        • I love your description of that building as a joyful version of “Bladerunner.” I have a feeling this image will forever change the flavor of my commute. And yes, you’re absolutely right about Target. They’ve made the occasional misstep, as all large companies do, but they do contribute mightily to the community.

    • One of the articles I linked to addressed this very topic, of employers seeing multitasking as a desirable skill. But they might change their minds if they saw the increasing evidence that multitasking leads to more errors and a less engage workforce! Plus — from what I’m observing in my younger colleagues — attention spans do seem to be shrinking. Soon the ability to focus on a single task may be a very sexy trait indeed, hiring-wise. And anyway, you’ve summed it up beautifully in your last sentence: It’s up to each of us to find the path that serves us best, especially in our personal lives. Thank you so much for stopping by, and my very best to you in the year ahead!

  5. I like the picture! I know what you mean about trying to do a lot in one year. Last year, that was me as well, so I’m hoping to find more of a balance this year. I wish you the best!

    • It can be difficult to find balance in this world of ours, with its emphasis on productivity and the constant digital interruptions. But with a bit of awareness and discipline, I’m confident we can both slow down a bit in the year ahead and spend our energy on the things that really matter to us. Cheers to you!

  6. This is a very inspirational post. I can relate to it so much. Hope you are able to achieve everything you have been wanting to! 🙂

    • I’m so glad this resonated for you, too! And I’m sure that with a bit more intention — and a little pinch of discipline — I will indeed have a more balanced, more productive year ahead. I wish you the same, too!

  7. Just stumbled upon your blog! What a great way to start this year — not with resolutions or any myopic checklists — just one word to describe it all. Nice post!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, coolkid. I’ve certainly made my share of checklists and resolutions (and still maintain a ridiculous “to-do” list). But in my advancing age I’m finding it’s all useless if you don’t have a sense of purpose behind it all. I hope YOU will have a wonderful, fulfilling year ahead. Thank you for stopping by!

  8. Wow.That is a really good post.I recently realized that I have been doing too many things at the same time & I have been trying to be ace at them all.But now,I believe that focusing on something and not on too many is the key to success.So 2017 will be the year of focusing and just realizing stuff that will help me to improve my life & skills.Happy 2017 mate!

    • I’m so glad this post was useful to you, Marilda! I’m like you: I’m so keen to try new things that I end up feeling not very competent at any of them. But it’s been quite empowering in the past few days to look at the things that are *really* important and to make those a priority. I wish you the same sense of clarity and purpose in 2017. Happy new year to you!

  9. That’s a terrific word. I’m still searching for mine. So far, it has not been forthcoming. I’ll check out a couple of your links. Wishing you all the best as you follow through this year.

    • Best wishes finding your word for 2017! Although in the end it isn’t the words that matter, so much as our actions. On that score I wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy year ahead.

  10. I would write a witty and erudite commentary on this inspiring post, but time is running away from me and I should be in bed…sigh….
    This year, I will organise my time better. And I will learn how to use that super-swish complicated camera which has been intimidating me from its box ever since I bought it over two years ago. Hah. Lesson one: focus. Yes!

    • Oh, how I adore you! Yes, lesson one is indeed “focus.” Although your photos suggest you’ve far surpassed that stage! (As does the wisdom with which you approach life.) xo

  11. Good grief, mono-tasker does sound like the person’s not making a very good effort doesn’t it? It’s true, we’re programmed to think it’s an unattractive quality. Well, now my eyes have been opened, thanks so much. I read two of the fab links. The one at ‘The Art of Manliness’ was really, really interesting. I actually screen printed a few peices. I sometimes think I’m a brilliant multi-tasker, until proven otherwise. Like, when something I’ve baked before doesn’t turn out. It could be because I was singing Christmas songs, reading my phone and drinking wine all at the same time….oopsie-daisy. Good luck with ‘Focus’, it seems harder than one would think.

    • I agree with you 100% that “monotasker” doesn’t exactly sound sexy (which is why I will never utter that word to a prospective employer). But after having one too many incidents like the ones you describe — mine was putting egg whites in the coffee, instead of cream — I’m convinced it’s at least worth a shot. I never really saved *that* much time anyway by knitting in the shower. 😀

  12. Moi je pense que cette qu’elle soit hors focus ou pas dit tout de vous, enfin elle dit par une métaphore comme vous le dites que vous n’étiez pas trop concentré. Mais comme on le dit toujours vont loin ceux qui reconnaissent leurs erreurs et qui essaient d’en tirer quelque que chose. Excuse-moi si je n’écris pas en anglais, c’est dû au fait que je ne suis pas trop bon en anglais. Cordialement

    • Merci pour votre commentaire (c’est pas grave si ce n’est pas en anglais — mon français est faible, mais au moins ça suffit pour lire et répondre). En tout cas, vous avez la raison : Ce qui vaut dans la vie c’est pas la perfection, mais apprendre quelque chose de nos erreurs. Merci, et bonne année à vous !

    • If you’re shooting photos at all, you’ve graduated from the “aspiring” part of being a photographer. 🙂 Keep at it! And thank you so much for your kind words.

    • Thank you so much! It’s one of those concepts that seems so simple, but is so difficult to put into practice, isn’t it. Cheers to you, and happy new year!

  13. I think what you write about here is something that most of us need to think about. I know from myself, at least, that I want to do too much all the time. Focus is a good point. May you succeed in 2017. A very poignant post.

    • I am honored that this lesson spoke to you, Otto. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind comment.

  14. You are so right, I don’t think I have ever read anything more relatable than this! Thanks for the advice, I will be sure to use it 🙂

    Nef xx

  15. Love this post H, thank you for the reminder. And actually I really like your unfocused image above. It is so creative. It would make a great print framed. Wishing you all things beautiful for this year. May you be able to focus on what you truly want to do this year and whom you want to do it with. xoxo

    • You are so kind, Rochelle! Thank you for your compliment and for your encouraging words. Already my life is taking on an entirely different focus in 2017 than I expected — but I am very definitely FOCUSED. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • I’ve just read through your recommended reading about multitasking. Really informative and I really liked the last one about ‘being a time wizard’…. I myself have never felt that I am good at multitasking, I’m the first to admit that I need help when making brunch, otherwise the eggs will be overcooked. 😉 I dislike the culture we live in where everyone has to have their phone at the ready, and how is it almost expected that we’re always available. As a mum I have to check my phone too, and of course it is good we can be reached in emergencies, however I cannot help feel we have become slaves to technology.

        • We have indeed become slaves to technology, Rochelle! I saw a great video the other day about how getting a “like” or a status update releases a little puff of dopamine into our brains, much as we’d get from a drink or a turn at the roulette table. It’s no wonder some people get thoroughly addicted. At least I’m of a generation that didn’t grow up with cellphones so I do know what it’s like to be engaged with my surroundings and not need constant stimulus. And although your kids are growing up in this tech-always-on culture they are lucky to have a mum who so reveres nature, and who is teaching her children to make connections there, too.

          Well … thank you as always for stopping by. It’s always a joy to hear from you! xx

  16. I appreciate that dreamy quality that comes from the out-focus, and the rain/sleet that seems to draw the eye towards the main image. My initial thought was to crop the image but actually that space is what it needed. Have a good “focus” this year…

    • Thank you, Robert! I appreciate your own sharp eye, and your thoughtful comment. My best to you in the new year as well.

  17. You are right. Sometimes it is not much fun being a Jill of all trades!!

    I am glad I stumbled across your blog. 🙂

    • What a kind comment. Thank you! I rather enjoy being a Jill of All Trades myself, but so far it hasn’t proven terribly fruitful as a career strategy, ha ha. 🙂

  18. After reading your post and the first link you suggested I feel relieved that multitasking is not all that it’s cracked up to be…because it drives me crazy and I am going to try and focus and not feel guilty about monotasking. Thanks! I am really enjoying your blog.

    • The more I read about multitasking, the more I’m convinced it’s actually detrimental, because by trying to juggle tasks we’re inadvertently rewiring our brains to have shorter attention spans. I’m so glad this post spoke to you, and am truly honored by your kind words about my blog. Thank you! Heide 🙂

  19. Yeesh, I’ve been aware for a while that multitasking is a myth and that you really do more than one thing at a time but I wasn’t aware that it changes your brain. Thanks for sharing the three links. And I like your photo. Louise

Leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s