The following question was submitted by someone who attended the Just Whelmed Calendar class and is answered below her question.


Could you please clarify the definitions of Flow Time and Focus Time? Maybe it would be easier to read my (admittedly fuzzy) description of Focus, and then you could point out my misconceptions:

Focus Time

Driven either by upcoming deadlines or by a desire to knock something off my list. Focus Time tasks are well-defined and have a clear endpoint. Tasks are predetermined for each Focus block (when I sit down for my Focus time, I already know what I am going to work on).

Examples of Focus Time tasks:

  • grading tests/homework
  • sending work emails
  • revise/resubmit a journal article
  • writing a conference proposal that’s due next week
  • write up grant timetable
  • write agenda for Friday meeting
  • make a flyer
  • tweak personal statement to fit a particular job opening
  • write/submit an IRB
  • make a PowerPoint for tomorrow
  • spend 2 hours cutting down dissertation chapter to turn into journal article (not sure about this one…Focus or Flow or either?)


All of these are perfect for Focus time especially as deadlines draw near.  AND….most of them could also get worked on during Flow time, which just means you’re working on them in advance of when they really need to be done.  My goal in life is to work on more and more things during Flow time so that I end up with 3 Flow days and really only need one Focus day.  Hasn’t happened yet, but… I am ever-hopeful.

Part of the distinction between Focus vs. Flow is the clear intent to get something done on a certain day.  That clear intent could be deadline-driven or it could be sparked by the sense of I-have-to-get-this-off-my-plate-because-I’m-sick-of-it.  With Focus days, you’ve laid things out fairly well as far as when or in which order you’re going to Focus on whatever the project or task is.

Some Focus days can have only one Focus, e.g., working on a grant proposal, creating the syllabus for a class, getting a complex conference proposal laid out and drafted, and the like.  Truthfully, it’s hard to Focus for an entire day on only one project, but sometimes, that’s what it takes and can actually be somewhat delightful (course prep is that way for me; I revel in it).  However, knowing that you have a whole day to delve into one main area, albeit with different hunks, chunks, and bites, can be very freeing.

meggin_just_whelmed_calendar_v3If this answer helped you, or you have more questions, feel free to check out the webinar Creating Grace, Space, & Pace with Your Own ‘Just Whelmed’ Calendar. This friendly and focused 90-minute webinar is for those who are ready to gain a sense of control over their schedules and to-do lists.

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