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The Experience Formula

The Secret to Getting Focused: 37 People Share their Biggest Takeaways from the 30 Day Get Focused Challenge

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I challenged my community to a 30 Day Get Focused Challenge starting August 26th.

The result?

466 people signed up to join us and 287 participated in our vibrant Facebook community.

If you’ve ever struggled with finding focus or balance in your life, then keep reading.

These courageous people showed once and for all that it’s possible to change your habits and behaviors in just 30 days.

Here are some of the biggest breakthroughs, ahas, lessons and realizations that were shared along the way:


My favorite part of this challenge is that this is NOT just a get more done on your To Do List. It IS creating an individual schedule that includes all the parts of your life that are important to you… including flexibility and adventure.

We are creating our life manifesto, so to speak, not carving in stone a rigid never ending list of tasks to complete no matter what. Yeah Marisa, you are challenging us around our beliefs as well as our use of time, energy, schedules, free time, me-time, task time, and our values.

Oh, and many of us (me included) are getting to look at our resistance to being told what to do….even if it is by ourselves. Lol ?

– Monique Wells


I am in a new kind of flow. Doing more of what feels good and getting more done even though I am taking more time off for self-care and listening.

The biggest ahas is that I can let go and the world wont fall apart. I can take care of me, have fun and yet be inspired and still make a difference. In fact I am more motivated when I follow my own rhythm.

What I realized above all else is that I can’t follow anyone else’s schedule, but that does not mean I cant be disciplined and focus. I just get to choose when I focus and on what. For me letting go of the need to be “somebody else” — a pastiche of assumptions that had me stuck — was the best part of this group. It gave me permission to look deeper and to find my own compass.

– Jen Duchene


Putting myself first in the morning means time for everyone and everything else in my life. Yippee!!

– Heidi Russon Hicks


I got a lot out of setting up my daily routine. It helped me to observe the things that did and didn’t work for me.

– Andrea Lange

I became more conscious of how and when I work best and what sabotaging behavior most trips me up.

– Mark Bosnian

My biggest aha was the importance of taking regular breaks, rather than working solidly for hour after hour after hour. Not sure I’ll always obey the timer rigidly, but it was a good demonstration. I am happier with a “framework” than a rigidly time-tabled day. Finally, that I really must confine “work” to fewer hours and to fewer days of the week

– Richard Sheppard


I realized that as an artist and creative, spreadsheets and rigid scheduling did not work at all for me. I was able to create a system that was focused, but at the same time gave me flexibility. Before, I felt bad that I was unable to use traditional scheduling. Once, I gave myself permission to create a “flex plan,” I got more done without feeling like I was being tied down.

One of my biggest aha’s is that instead of just letting my day “happen,” I have become acutely aware of how I am using my time and being so much more productive.

– Carmen Lund


This challenge has helped me realize how much of my time I was living in grey areas: thinking about needing rest while I was working, and working in my mind while trying to rest. Now, I’m starting to practice a “work hard and then enjoy life” philosophy. I have scheduled time for work, so I’ll work as hard and focused as I can during that time, to accomplish what I planned. But once that time is over, that’s it. It’s time to enjoy life, without guilt or remorse.

I’m also transitioning into a more balanced life: I used to work all day, up to midnight sometimes, trying to get stuff completed. And even Saturdays and Sundays.

During these past two weeks, I’ve shifted to disconnecting from work altogether on weekends and either enjoying the time with my wife, or nurturing my mind and body. And during the week, at night, I can just stop working and go out on a date with my wife, or spend my night reading or studying. I loved the look of surprise on my wife’s face a couple of days ago when at 6pm I told her “I’m done working for the day… want to go out or watch a movie with me?” Priceless. It felt good because it is really a testimonial of the shift I’m making in how I work and how I live.

It is amazing how much it helps your mind and body when you give it the time it needs to rest and recover from the week. This is something I hadn’t done without feeling guilty for years, until I started this challenge.

I can’t believe I’m working a lot less than I’m used to, while feeling that I’m making more progress than before.

– Arturo Monge


What I like the most about the challenge is that it reminds me every day to focus on priorities and take action to get things done.

For the last 10 days or so I have gotten really disciplined with the “time vampires”:

1. Email – only review twice a day [early in morning and late in evening]

2. Telephone – only answer a planned call; will return unplanned calls later!

3. Cell – turn it off all day when at my desk – no interruptions whatsoever!

4. Family – tell them I will be on calls, doing videos, etc. and lock my door so no interruptions and they respect this fully.

This may seem extreme but it has helped me really focus without interruptions and it makes a big difference!

– James M. Kirwan


The challenges forced me to get crystal clear on what really needed to be taken care of each day and to have a plan to support the ebb and flow of life/business.

Biggest reward has been building in structure to have boundaries for work time from life time. With more quality time to share with my husband and my daughter I see and feel a happier glow in the house and that’s the greatest blessing of all.

– Deborah Harlow


This challenge has shown me that I can be more efficient in the way I use my time, however, it is essential to enjoy down time focusing solely on doing the things that support me in feeling my best.

I recognize that my old way of managing time was inefficient, but my “ideal day” isn’t totally realistic if I end up cutting out the very lifestyle choices that owning my own business was established to support. So, regardless of how much there is to get done, I am committed to making my mental/spiritual/ physical/emotional needs a top priority.

– Heather Kikel


I realized that even though I love what I do and can work for hours and days on end, I’m lot happier taking regular breaks. The more I took breaks, the more I moved; the more I moved, the better I ate; the better I ate, the clearer my mind; and the clearer my mind, the more focused I became.

– Stephanie Ritz


I am moving forward with greater mindfulness about everything I do. Taking deliberate breaks during my work time has been a powerful energy booster, and taking time each morning to center before I go about my day has opened me to greater possibilities. It’s a time of visioning for me.

– Marcia O’Malley


I realized that staying up late just doesn’t serve me anymore. I need to just stop and let it flow to the next day. Focus on what will make me money first as I plan my day, that way if I get distracted during the day I have the money making part done.

– Dawn B Dwyer


Greatest takeaway would be that I need to spend time each day creating, whether for the business or just for myself. Secondly, stop jumping on the computer each morning. Typically, we both hop out of bed and race to our respective computers. It has been so refreshing to chat and drink coffee with the hubby every day.

– Dixie Lee


If I had to pick one ‘aha’ lesson I have learned through the challenge it would simply be how much MORE aware of the number of productive hours I have each day. Awareness has been a key motivator for me to staying on track.

– Janine Wertalik Gregor


My biggest takeaway is that saying NO is a good thing. That choice has to be made based on your schedule not the project or person.

– Lee Drozak


Creating time blocks made all the difference in the world! Now I can keep my promises to clients stress free – if I say I am going to work on something, I know exactly when I will work on it. If I need to make prospect calls I have a time to do that as well.

– Jackie Kiadii


I feel lots less stressed now that I have started to structure my days in this Challange, I am so much more aware of when I am doing what’s in the plan (work or rejuvenation) or when I’m going down a Rabbit Holes.

My best takeaway is to use a timer for the timeslots – was such a relief not to keep track of time and still not get lost in time. That made me very focused and effective.

– Annika Sörensen


So far this challenge has resulted in massive clarity for me. I have created index cards for each of my goals and written tasks on each. Every morning I flip through my little stack of cards (6 in all) and reflect on how I will move toward each goal for the day. I also have added an objective so I know WHY I have the goal. This is keeping me focused, motivated and inspired!

Thanks to this challenge, things I normally leave to the last minute are getting done early.

– Sharon Bechtold


The more focused I am on my work, the more inspiration for what to do next is coming through. When I procrastinate, and I am really good at that, I notice that my flow stops, duh! I feel like I am working in a fog and don’t know which direction to address. Now that I’m focused, the opportunities for growth, and more productivity feel plentiful.

– Sharon Silver


It’s the small changes we make each day that change our lives into what we want them to be. Sage advice that I intend to implement.

This week I had to deal with two serious personal emergencies BUT the thing that surprised me was once I worked through them and was able to get back to work, I knew exactly where to pick up. It was amazing! I just looked at the time, checked my ideal day schedule for the block of time I should be on, then went to my Trello boards for what to do next in that block of time (I keep a lot of notes and checklists in Trello) and voila. I was up and going again in minutes, instead of hours.

The biggest win for me is I don’t feel lost anymore. Oh my brain tries to take me there because I had allowed it to get into such a bad habit (unknowingly), but my ideal schedule coupled with Trello are making a huge difference in my productivity, and that is boosting my confidence.

I’m much more focused and much more organized than I was 3 weeks ago. I know what to do, when to do it, and juggling multiple projects is practically easy.

For the first time in months I actually worked on projects I’ve been wanting to, rather than projects I have to. My goal is to eventually have more “want to” projects, so I can phase out the “have to” work that I don’t enjoy as much.

These are major accomplishments.

– Diana Williams

So far, I have been able to craft this calendar. It is still under construction but I am so happy for it. My ideas are on paper and not my head anymore. I feel like I have more space in my head now and for more things to come. Feeling more organized with the time.

– Ina Naar

This get focused challenge has had an amazing effect for me–I have used my smallish slots of time each day to read about and research my market–doing the things I hadn’t known I should have been doing to prepare to start my business and which I was convinced I didn’t have time to do anyway–until this challenge. The challenge hours each day gave me time to pause, research and really think things through instead of rushing to develop my website like that would do it! Duh!

So now I have an exciting, much more complex new vision of what it can be and what I CAN do and NEED to do to successfully get to what I’m shooting for. I see that my ideas have been built on a foundation of guesses and now I’m building something based on research and data (and passion too of course). A breakthrough week and I’m thrilled.

– Emily Melvin


My biggest “aha” was that you cannot expect to create a dream life if you aren’t focused on what is important and spending your time accordingly.

So… This challenge REALLY helped me get focus. First by helping me realize that what I thought would be an ideal day, was actually a nightmare day if I really did it. Which led me to create a perfect day that actually helped me accomplish goals that are most important to me and not the goals social media people are supposed to accomplish.

It’s been a shift of mindset to watch my time more than it has been anything else.

Today was wonderful! I woke up and my boyfriend made us breakfast. I spent an hour painting while I watched Morning Joe and then wrote a handful of descriptions for new shop items. I worked with my art business coach and then got 3 proposals, 2 contracts, and 2 blog posts done. Met with an awesome new client who is a social media coach- which was a blast because we bounced ideas and brainstormed like it was 1999. All this in addition to the daily maintenance for my clients accounts. It’s been amazing to feel like I am moving closer to my goals AND making my clients happy. All much more efficiently than before.

And hey, it’s only 7.

– Luz Mariel Donahue


This challenge has proven for me, I can be more productive with less time and achieve balance and success in the 4 interrelated areas of my life: Spiritual, Physical, Personal & Professional life.

My biggest achievement is overcoming procrastination! In the last few days I have been able to complete tasks that have been lagging for as long as over a year! I used to defend my procrastination by “Saying I worked better under pressure” Truth is that was just another excuse not to deal with the issue! I’m now “Killing Excuses and get the tasks done”.

Here is the thing as you increase your focus you have to start shedding and prioritizing! We cannot be doing all the things we did before in the same way, else you will suffer burn out! I have had to reduce some activities, stop some all together and delegate more… and here are the BIG 2 difference makers… Learning to say NO & NOT NOW!

Thanks guys, as self-employed (part-time or full-time) we all need a tribe to be part of and this group has been awesome.

– Troy Holder

My biggest achievement so far may sound simple, but it is HUGE for me – for 10 days in a row I have gone to bed earlier than usual and got up at 5:45am to meditate. I really feel as though I have embedded this new habit now. I am actually a night owl, and often stay up until 2 or 3am and then get up shattered the next day. I am now loving the feeling of being well-rested and energetic. Now that this part of my schedule is established I am going to get moving with my business actions – Yay!!

– Carolyn Aukafolau

My biggest achievement in this challenge so far is making the last week of August one of the most productive this summer, and possibly this year. I finished a lot of things that were on my to do list, some of which were waiting for final touches since February!

– Renata Pa?ka

Todays big insight came during a one hour break between clients. Usually I have something to eat and go for a little walk, but instead of resting and recharging during that time I’m beating myself up about all the other things I should be working on. Today I was really intentional and focused that my break was a time for me to rest and that was all I needed to do. Wow, what a difference in the quality of time and level of relaxation in my body.

Big lesson — be completely present with whatever choice you have made in how you spend your time and don’t worry about all the other stuff you could be doing instead!

For me it is really being present to what I’m doing in the moment without all the mental chatter and guilt about all the other things I could/should be doing. I find the relaxation that comes from this is amazing. I’m able to enjoy my family and down time so much more.

– Daniel Christofferson

My lifestyle doesn’t fit neatly into a structured day. But this challenge was brilliant in helping me realize that I need structure in terms of looking at each day and deciding where I’m going to fit my three working sessions into the day so I stay on track with focus. That was a huge breakthrough moment for me! Just being clear on what I have to do each day has made a huge difference in my productivity level.

This was the first Saturday I can remember when I didn’t do any work. I was so productive and focused this week I decided to just enjoy myself.

– Tanya Kersey


Great day today! I’ve been focusing on really being present for my morning rituals, then starting my workday with the #1 most important thing.

I work 45 minutes, then take a break, and repeat. Plus I only check email/FB after lunch time. Love it!

The hardest thing for me is stopping to take my breaks, and stopping at around 7:00 to relax for the evening. But I’m noticing that when I do, I have so much more energy and enthusiasm. Good stuff!

– Julie Ann Kimball Cockburn


I got so focused this morning that a new blog post (inspired by Martin Luther King) was conceived, written, uploaded to my blog and newsletter delivery service by lunchtime. Unheard of!

Normally I can spend days or even weeks procrastinating, so I was very pleased with that outcome, which I’m totally putting down to not logging on to email or FB before I start work in the morning. Getting to bed at a reasonable time might also have something to do with it. Belinda Smith It’s imperative to work AND play. Creativity needs both.

– Linda Anderson


One must respect The Zone, and our creative juices, but self-care and rejuvenation time is so so important. Otherwise The Zone becomes elusive. There are also as many ways to take care of ourselves as there are members here – and what works one day might not the next. Just be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best friend.

– Jennifer E Burke

Lesson learned:

1. The obstacles aren’t there to stop us from reaching our goals, they’re there to show us how bad we really want it.

2. There will be people who don’t want you to succeed because that means they have to step up their game and they don’t want to. Surround yourself with like minded achievers to avoid letting them get in your head.

3. If you’re not emotionally connected to your goals then every little obstacle will stop you, so focus on a dream that motivates you!

– Betsy Manning

If you’d like to Challenge yourself to get focused, it’s not too late. Simply watch this video for some inspiration.

You can change your life in 30 Days. You just have to get started…

Stay tuned… I’ll be announcing our next 30 Day Challenge in December (for a January 1 start date)… 🙂

P.S. If you joined us in the Challenge and don’t have a quote above, feel free to leave your breakthrough in the Comments!

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