The Puppiness Project – Know When It’s Important to Shift Focus

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.

Honey the Golden Retriever Fetching in the Snow

Look at my concentration. I'm a fetching machine!

Honey has a simple life. She has only a few regular duties to take care of every day.

Honey’s Daily Jobs

These are Honey’s jobs:

  • Carry toys around in her mouth.
  • Greet new people.
  • Empty her food toys.
  • Greet new people.
  • Play tug.
  • Greet new people.
  • Fetch balls.
  • Greet new people.
  • Oh, and when folks stop by? Greet new people.

I’m amazed at how easily Honey prioritizes her tasks. I’ve never caught her pondering what she should do next. Honey does what’s most important at the time.

Yesterday we came home from dinner with a friend. Actually, it was Honey’s favorite friend.

As Diana walked in behind me, I went to fill Honey’s Tug-A-Jug with dinner. Honey went right to Diana to share their usual lovies. But then Honey heard me scooping out food. She immediately changed priorities and came over to supervise me filling her food toy.

I don’t mean to say Honey is rude. She actually turned back to Diana in the middle of the process as if to say, “I’m sorry. But you realize I have to take care of this, don’t you?”

In the end, Honey was decisive about shifting her focus.

Pamela’s Daily Jobs

I’m not going to create the list. I can’t afford to start hyperventilating right now.

My paid work is very busy right now. The house needs work, as always. But this year we’re committed to renting it out for Cornell graduation weekend. Oh, and I have these two blogs.

Things are going well in blogville. One blog has led to my being a new contributor at a literary and literate website. And the other has attracted the attention of a large real estate website who wants me to write a guest post. But it’s hard to celebrate the extra work when you already feel bad about neglecting the community you enjoy so much.

The key to managing all these tasks? Being able to shift focus quickly from one task to another. If I have half an hour while I’m waiting for dinner to cook, I can’t afford to put my head in my hands and wonder what of my many demands comes next.

And I certainly can’t waste time surfing around Facebook.

I need to quickly shift focus from the man who called at the end of the day seeking help with his pending house foreclosure and start thinking of puppies (you’d think that would be easy) or editorial schedules.

And sometimes I just need to walk around with a toy in my mouth look out at the snow with a cup of tea for comfort.

Honey the Golden Retriever and her person Mike

You think the shirt was a cute Christmas present. I think it's a message from DOG.

Replacing Pam Habits with Honey Habits

Maybe to learn how to shift focus I need to put myself in Honey’s paws. I’ll bark at squirrels out the window until it’s time to chew on a bone. I’ll nap all afternoon until I hear someone come in the door.

And I’ll focus on one thing at a time without getting distracted by all the other stuff that’s waiting to get done.

At least, that’s what Honey would do.

Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop

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  1. I often envy dogs the simplicity of life that they lead! I think if I had their ability to focus, life would be much simpler.

  2. Dogs lives are to simply focus on one task at a time. We should all be able to do this! Less stressful that way!

  3. A dog’s life is so simple. Like you said, they know what is important and don’t have a hard time prioritizing. Unfortunately, we can’t do whatever we want, when we want like dogs can. Simplifying and finding balance for us helps though. I hope the dust settles for you soon and you can be clear on what is most important for you.

  4. You would think that we humans would have simplified our lives years ago, but the world keeps getting more complex. I do manage to learn a lot from my dogs about doing the important things first. Housework, once done, always needs to be done again and again. A few chores can be put off while we play fetch.

  5. Mindfulness – something I so am working on but Honey exemplifies it perfectly. Do what you are doing at the time very well, then move on. I am learning to keep lists.
    Love the shirt – don’t have a boat but wouldn’t mind an RV instead.
    Congratulations on the guest blog post and the literary blog. I need to check it out – love, love books.

  6. **sigh** I envy the dogs this. Really I do. I love the ability to work at the most important task. Dogs don’t really multi-task, so they? I need to channel my inner Honey. I’m always doing aout 12-million things at once (usually poorly).

  7. Thank you so much for hosting!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  8. Good for you! Every morning I sit in my office and feel that nasty overwhelmed feeling creep up on me. And every morning I try to stuff it down so I can start to prioritise and actually get things done. Instead of just sitting there inwardly wailing, I too need to learn how to focus on one thing at a time. It’s probably a lot healther, and a lot more productive. I am also trying to learn how to be patient with myself. I am trying to start talking to myself the way I talk to others.

    Congratulations on your exciting new projects! Even if they are adding to your already-large workload, I think you should still take a moment to enjoy your success. Sip that cup of tea for all it’s worth. :-)

  9. When I’m overwhelmed, I catch up on all of my blogs (like NOW!) I am a professional procrastinator :) I have to make lists to stay sane and sometimes it’s getting started on a new project that really messes me up. I think Honey has it all figured out and the nap sounds like a great idea! Congrats on your accomplishments!!!

  10. Great lesson from Honey, and one I should definitely heed! I tend to mutli-task to the point of not actually finishing anything. I’m so easily distracted…

    • Perhaps this tendency to get distracted explains the over-abundance of ellipsis in my writing. (I almost did it again, but stopped myself!)

  11. Hi There,

    I think Honey might be looking forward to living on the Boat – at least there’ll be plenty of room for her toys if you’ve sold all your stuff!! :)

    Have a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  12. I think Honey has the right idea. :)

  13. That’s very good advice! Mom’s often (too often anymore) overwhelmed w/ work and choices she needs to make.That’s why I insist she catches up on her bloggie reading. She has so much to learn!

  14. It seems that the more ‘simple’ we try to make this world for ourselves, with all of the new gadgets and technosavy things, the more difficult it is to keep pace. A dog’s life offers much to learn but also can casue quite a case of envy! Bone chewing, ball chasing, sun puddle napping… I am ready for some of that. : )
    Great post.

  15. Ahhhhh…. dog’s lead such simple lives! But there are lessons to be learned when we observe our four-legged furry friends. For one thing, no contemplating on what should come next, and just do the most important thing that must be done. No huffing and puffing about it, just do it. At least if this prioritizing tactic is used, a lot of things may get done without the ego getting involved.

  16. Congratulations on your new leads! That is great!
    If you find out how to Follow in Honey’s footsteps and focus on one thing, you will be have to sure to let me know just how you did it!

  17. I love Mike’s sweatshirt! Congratulations on your blogville recognition. Not before time:) I’m sure there are more guest posts and other exciting things to come for you.

    You have time to actually cook dinner as well as everything else you do? I eat my heated up frozen meals at the computer and still can’t keep up with blogs, lol! Not every night, of course, just most nights;) I definitely need to take a leaf out of Honey’s book.

  18. It is so easy to become overwhelmed. Life is busier than it ever has been and while our chores have increased the hours in the day have not. It is difficult to maintain one (never mind two) blogs and still keep up with everything else.

    Just do the best you can, I think you are doing a fine job and congratulations on your accomplishments!

  19. Focusing on one thing at a time really does increase efficiency. When I must get things done I close email, Facebook, and turn off my phone. It’s amazing how quickly projects can be accomplished. One trick I read, since I know how you feel about email, is to only open your email program 2 or 3 times per day. Otherwise it can take over your life! Another good lesson from Honey. =)

  20. Can I do what Honey does? I especially like the description of her “supervising” the filling her food into the Tug-n-Jug.

    I have been a bit overwhelmed by all that I have to do as well, but when I read your list of to-dos? I feel like I have it pretty good. Although, in between all the busy stuff this weekend I think I’m going to take a Honey-style nap. :)