Year of Focus

Juan Villela

New year, new theme? Ok. Last year’s theme was a success. Having the mindset of prioritizing quality over quantity allowed me to prioritize the things that mattered most. Whenever I felt that my time was wasted on something unnecessary, I’d do a quick reset and remove it from my life. Of course, it was more challenging than it sounds. I added and deleted media (podcasts, YouTube, RSS) from my feeds every week for the first couple of months. But towards the end of winter, I decided to make a simple list of the media I enjoy and would pay attention to and break it down into categories. So, with that list as my template, I made a big sweep around my devices. And every time I found something interesting I wanted to follow, I’d look at the list and decide if it was meaningful and valuable. I still added and then deleted stuff the first couple of weeks, but I quickly began to make better decisions before adding stuff.

And while this has positively impacted my life, my time still feels somewhat wasted. It’s not that I spend 3 hours watching TV and forget about my responsibilities. But instead, the way I’m organizing my day isn’t making the most out of the time I have. So my theme for this year is Focus. Let me explain what this means a little better. I’ll break it into three categories.


I work independently from home. And in this context, that means I spend most of my time at home alone. My only companion throughout the day is Siri on the Watch when it randomly responds to me while on the phone. After a few years of working like this, I have no trouble concentrating and staying on track. However, the way I work could be more efficient. I spend all my time with headphones on, listening to podcasts or occasionally watching some conference on the other monitor to my right. To most, this might sound awful and a productivity killer. But I’m pretty good at writing code and listening to someone talk. But I’d like better.

Although I managed to curate a great list of podcasts, YouTube subscriptions, and RSS feeds through the Year of Quality, it’s only valid if I give them my full attention. And it’s not like I don’t have other time during the week to listen to, see, or read these things. It’s just a bad habit of mine to do it while working. And I’m not entirely focused if my attention is spread across multiple things. Which means I could be more efficient. My work has not been negatively affected by this, but I believe I could do more if all my attention is directed at the task.

So, work in the Year of Focus will mean background music and a singular focus on my coding.


In 2018, I decided to take my data hoarding a step further and start tracking every minute of every day. And so I did. Thanks to the beautiful Timelogger app, I could track everything I did. For this purpose, I opted to use multiple concurrent timers. This meant I would follow every minute I was with my partner while tracking when we were watching TV or doing chores around the house, for example.

Looking back at my 2019 metrics, family was the most tracked category, clocking in at 3327 hours. In contrast, Work came in third at 1145 hours. I see this as an absolute win! The main goal of going indie was to spend more time with the family. So, looking at these numbers brings great joy.

That said, most of the time spent with the family is watching TV or on our phones. We’re couch potatoes, and that’s fine. It’s one of the things that brought us together. However, for the Year of Focus, I’d like to dedicate more time to us. At the beginning of 2019, we’d picked up a habit of going for a 30-minute walk every night without phones. This allowed us to talk about anything personal without any distractions. But sadly, that habit broke a little later because of work and other stuff. But I want us to start doing that again, along with more personal and intimate activities. In other words, I want to focus on spending more quality time together and making better memories than just watching something on our days off.


The line between personal and work time has blurred over the past year. Most of my free time is spent coding as well. Not that I’m complaining; all of that has been working on personal projects that I enjoy. But if I continue with this, I’ll eventually burn myself out. When that happens, I’ll start disliking my job. This can’t happen. I left an excellent job for this because I was miserable. Front-End development is something I enjoy quite a lot and I want to keep it that way. So, I need to dedicate more time to do other things.

Something I want to do more of this year is reading and gaming. The former is what everyone says at the start of a new year, while the latter is something many are looking to cut back on. But “read more” means sitting down to enjoy a book (audiobook). I do not power-read articles on my RSS feed or accumulate more unfinished books. I also want to game a little more. I have a massive backlog of iOS and Steam games I’ve bought and want to play but have yet to do so. I need more time to relax than spending 4 hours on Reddit. I want to focus on relaxing more and enjoying my time off.


Now that I’ve outlined the things I’d like to focus on this year, I want to change how I keep track of my progress. During 2019, I used time tracking as the primary metric for the time spent on a task. This year, I want to step things up and keep track of more than just my time. I want to keep a list of movies and shows seen, books read, places visited, and projects completed. I suggest doing this with podcasts, articles, and other internet media. But I already have a running list of bookmarked stuff I enjoyed the most; essentially, a bookmarks database. I’ll write a blog post detailing these things and my thoughts at the end of each month. This approach will give me a better sense of what time is spent on this and that. It might sound like it could be more helpful for staying focused, but this approach works well for me.

Final Thoughts

I am very excited about the Year of Focus. There’s a lot I have planned. Having completed my first yearly theme in 2019, I feel more confident about 2020. I’m doing plenty more changes this year, mostly centered on data collection. This data has helped me get a birds-eye view of my life in the past year. So, I’m adding food and water intake, media consumption, and travel. Let the data hoarding commence!

See Also

Year of Quality

Every year, the guys over at the Cortex podcast develop a theme that sets an overarching idea guiding their decisions. That got me thinking of recent media consumption changes I've made recently.