Focus On and Off for 2023 Transcript

So I think I might be a little crazy. I decided to change this episode to the idea of focus.

I had this grand idea for a “23 Things Going Into ’23”…listing off a whole bunch of my favorites. Ideas and things that I think that everybody should really, at least be aware of.  Books, life lessons, simple steps. And as I was listening back to the 30 minute long episode, it just didn’t feel right.

Actually, one of the life lessons went along with one of the quotes that I talked about in that episode. It was, “If something feels weird, then it’s weird. And if you don’t feel at peace with it, then it’s time to pause and think.” So I’m taking those notes, and I’m actually going to go a slightly different direction. 

I’m explaining all of this because I think it’s important to know that you can always go back and change something. Even if you’ve put some time and effort into it. In fact, actually, that was another one of the life lessons I talked about in that episode. That sometimes it’s okay if it needs an update and it was working okay.

Like that episode would have been fine, but I just didn’t want to leave it like that. 

So I’ll still put up a list of the books and the products I love. We’re still going to talk about some simple steps. But instead, I want to talk about the focuses that I have, and that I want you to have going into 2023. The things that we should put our focus on, and the things that we should take our focus away from because we’ve spent all this time creating these ideas and these goals, and these focus points in our previous episodes. But let’s go ahead and take on some together.  

Embrace the Idea of Focusing on Simple and Small Steps

One of the focuses that I want all of us to take into this new year is to embrace the idea of simple and small steps over giant leaps to perfection. It’s always kind of assumed that when you set these resolutions, there can be something big and dramatic, and you’re gonna lose 150 pounds by the end of January. But instead, we kind of fall off that bandwagon because it’s unreasonable, then slide backwards. 

Instead, I want you to focus on taking small steps every day. And while they don’t have to be perfect steps, they can be a little piece in the right direction, because nothing is going to happen overnight. But if you can build small and simple habits. If you can see small simple improvements. If you can look back three years from now and say, “that’s where it started and look how far I’ve come” because you build something sustainable. I want that for you. And I want it for me too. 

So in the realm of things like health, I’m going to take small steps by giving myself a few options. I’m going to take my vitamins. I’m going to wear my fitness tracker more often because I’m really bad about actually putting it on. I’m gonna do really small things. And I’m gonna build that as I get more and more used to having that habit encompassed in my life. 

But you can also build small steps towards simplicity. Towards a system. Towards handing off things. In even training your kids on how to take things over for you. Preparing them to be able to be more independent, and take on some of these tasks for themselves later on.

It all has to start small, or it won’t stay. 

How People Perceive Us and What to Focus On

In a focus that I want us to release this next year is the focus on how people perceive us when those people don’t really matter. There are so many opinions out in the world. And coming specifically from the point of view as a teacher, and a parent, there are so many opinions. There are so many people willing to be angry at somebody else, and we don’t need to take that and absorb it in. 

I know that I have some students that they’re kind of a struggle for me, but I also know that next year, they’re not going to be in my class. And they’re not in my class all the time now, so why would I let them live in my head? 

There are some parents in the past that I’ve really had a hard time with, but they’re in the past now. And they didn’t last forever, so I need to let them live in the past and not carry it over with me. 

Even as a parent there are so many other people’s opinions out there. But what I can tell you is that they are not living your life. They are not doing what you do. If you go to the store with makeup that your kids put on your face, and you wear it proudly, and somebody else wants to judge you for that, that is not a reflection of you. 

Sometimes we can hold this mindset, for like a good week or so, and then we fall off and we start feeling that external pressure. The conformity of it all. The things that we feel like we need to do to stay in line. But it’s your life. And it’s something that you get to choose for yourself. And it’s kind of wonderful. As long as nobody’s in harm’s way, and you are completing the things that you are supposed to be completing, you’re doing the job that you were set out to do, you’re going to be fine. 

So let’s drop our thoughts on how others perceive us.

Maybe I’m known as kind of the crazy science teacher because I go way more into spirit days than any other students in the school. And I’m cozy, comfy and spirited all at once. So I’m not gonna let the opinions of other people stop me from enjoying the time that I have. 

Focus on Simple Being Better

Another focus that we’re going to take on together is that simple, is actually usually better. 

I don’t know if you find yourself doing this, but when I look for a recipe online, if I find out it only has three ingredients, I just automatically assume it’s gross. It’s not worth my time. My kids aren’t going to eat it. My husband’s not going to like it. Why would I waste my time on something that is so simple? It’s probably not even good. 

But then I go make my mom’s pot roast recipe, and there are literally three ingredients in the whole thing…one of them being meat, and it’s delicious. I make it all the time. My favorite pulled pork recipe is literally pork and Himalayan pink sea salt. That’s it. 

So why do I feel like I need to find something complicated to answer the question, “what’s for dinner?” Why do I feel like I need to create a lesson that has 17 steps to it? And I’m gonna have to laminate, and cut out pieces, and then create this whole slide deck, and then black out my room and put neon tape everywhere. Why can’t I just rein it back in, and we just enjoy the simple lesson?

There are some times where going over the top is more fun. Sometimes when you have a birthday celebration, you just want that person to feel so special. Those are the times to embrace a little lack of simplicity. But in every aspect of your life, if you were to look around and see what you could simplify, what steps could you cut out? What pieces do not need to be there? What types of things would actually make doing that task a lot easier if it wasn’t there? How can you rearrange things? How can you just make your life more simple?

For my family, I’m going to simply default to playing outside when the weather’s nice. To simply default to putting my phone hidden away when it’s playtime. To default to keeping my kitchen table clear, so that we can then spread out all of the coloring things. I want to simplify things so that I can embrace more of what else is going on. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated to be special. Sometimes, the simplest things make the best memories.  

Lose Focus on the Task List

Probably the biggest thing I want you to lose focus on this year, something that I want you to actively work against this year, is trying to complete your task list. It is not all important. It will always be there. 

There are always more things to do. Whether at school or at home. All of the things in between. You’re always going to find a way to fill that time, but it doesn’t have to be filled. 

You only have a finite amount of time. If you’re spending all the time on the task list, then what is the point in working to simplify? In working to create systems? In trying to be more productive? It’s not to refill the space that we’ve created. It’s to prioritize and make quick work of the things that we have to do, so that you get to choose what to do with the open time. And that choice should not be adding in more tasks.

So there’s a story that I’m sure actually happened, but Warren Buffett went through an exercise with his personal pilot. It was to help him figure out his priorities. So he asked the pilot to write down his top 25 career life goals. Twenty-five things that he wanted to accomplish. When he finished that list, he told the pilot to go back and circle the top five. Once he’d circled the top five, he now had a list of five circled items and 20 that we’re just left alone. 

Warren Buffett asked his pilot, “Okay, what are you going to do with that list?” 

Now the pilot is like, “Well, obviously, the circled items are the most important, but the ones that are uncircled, are still going to be valuable and important. It’s just not my main focus. So I’ll work on those intermittently.”

Warren Buffett stopped him and said, “No, those 20 are eliminated. You don’t even think about them, because you want to focus on these top five. If you allow yourself to be distracted by these other 20, those five will never happen. You have to eliminate things to keep your focus on what actually matters. Now, once you finish those top five, of course, you can always go back to the list, but your priorities will probably have changed. Those 20 items that you left off, might not even be that important anymore. So instead, you focus on those five and those five alone.”

The same thing can be done with our task list. You put into your day what you think you’re going to have time for, and you eliminate everything else. That’s why it’s one of the steps in the 5 Steps to Simplify Your To Do List. We’re going to eliminate some things. We’re going to delegate. We’re going to kick things off. It’s not all ours to do. Because if you spend so much time focusing on everything, then nothing is important. But if you get the big things done, let everything else sit. It is not your job to finish it all because you will never, ever finish it all.  

Instead, we’re going to take a deep breath. We’re going to focus on the things that do matter. 

My Focus Goals

Now I want to go ahead and walk you through my focus goals for 2023.


My first business focus for 2023 is to not sell myself short. What I’m saying there is actually enjoying the things I love is going to require me to actually sell some things I make. I do a lot of creating in the background. I created this new planner system just the other day, and I’m super proud of it, but I’m going to have to sell a lot of planners if I’m going to help pay for the things that keep this podcast free. So I need to start working on income based activities. 

That’s actually one of the reasons I started my masters, too, because I want to increase my income as quickly as possible. My Masters is honestly the fastest way to do that through an annual bump in salary. And then I’m going to work on those other things that help support the things that I love. 

What that means for you is really not a whole lot, except that a lot of the products and teaching things that I’ve kept on the backburner, that have just been stored in my files, I’m actually going to consciously make them available. I’m also potentially going to have ads running through the podcast. They’re going to be quick. They’ll be short. They’ll be sweet. You might not even notice them. But it’s going to help me keep this available and free for you. 


In my personal life, one of the things that I’m really focused on is modeling for my kids the life that I want them to have. 

Now, that’s going to cause me to do a lot of small steps in different directions. I need to disconnect from my phone a lot more often than I am. I need to be more present and let them help me think with things like cooking and cleaning. And I also just need to be able to say yes to more things. Take them along on the journey of me trying new foods, and working on getting healthier and stronger, and playing with them, and doing all of the things that I hope for them in the future by showing them what that looks like now. 

And that one is a big ask. I’m going to be constantly working on this one for years. But if I just look at it as creating the life for myself that I want my kids to emulate in the future, it’s a powerful why for me.


School is an interesting one for me to think about because there are a lot of things that I wish I could focus on.

With the unknown of what I’m teaching next year, again…moving in the future, I just want to make class feel less like work. For me and for my students. I want to provide them with practice and worksheets. I want them to take responsibility for their learning, but I also want them to be successful and enjoy it. So it’s striking a balance between what can I do for them, and what can they do for themselves. 

And so I have a few ideas rolling around in my head, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it later. But they’re going to be taking accountability, and I’m going to be reducing my workload. That’s the end of that.

Well, it’s not the end because it’s really just the beginning isn’t it? Welcome to 2023.

My Favorite Things

Let me do some rapid fire on some of my favorite things, from the list that people requested, so that I can also get that out of the way. Because those also felt like a kind of heavy episode. And I want to leave you with a few of the things that you asked for. 

As much as I can, I will link things for you if you would like to go look at them. 


But let’s start with books. 

For teaching – the book Awakened: Transform Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson. I just finished it. It was absolutely amazing. Highly recommend it.

For self improvement and personal development – Summary of Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less. That is by Greg McEwan, and it is a kickstart into really seeing the things in your space for what they are, and hopefully allowing you to cut ties with what doesn’t serve you.

And then just my favorite general authors that I’ve been reading for fun. I call it nerdy romance, but Ali Hazelwood and any Christina Lauren book. They have all felt like that easy, sort of beach read, but without the beach. Like something I can read at home to just escape.

We actually covered the basis of a lot of my favorite quotes and life lessons already in this podcast


Favorite products outside of productivity – just random things that I thought of that I have really loved are: 

  • PROVEN skincare. It was on Shark Tank, and now it’s kind of blown up on the digital world. I need a simple system. It’s been simple, it’s personalized, it works when I use it. Love it.
  • Loopy phone cases. I don’t think I can ever use another phone case again. Highly recommend it. It feels weird at first, but the loop makes it so flexible. And when you’ve got three kids you’re chasing around, I just slide that loop over my wristlet, and then I go. Don’t even have to worry about it.

Teacher Time Saving Tips

Teachers time saving tips, rapid fire.


Grading with stamps, I think, is an underrated best friend. And it helps you also keep track of late work and how late things are. 


Having an arsenal of templates that you can assign at any point in time. Templates are so useful, and we’re gonna talk about project templates in a future episode. 

Taking a Day

And also never apologizing for needing a day. This kind of goes along with one of the things we’re gonna give up, which is other people’s perceptions and expectations of us. You have days, you can use them. You don’t need to say sorry. And even if you don’t take the day off from work, and you just use it as a catch-up day in class, or a video day, don’t apologize for it. Your kids are not mad about it, so you don’t have to be sad about it either. 

Simple Steps

Simple steps that I think everybody should work towards:

  1. Simplify your stuff, especially if you read Essentialism, I think that’s really going to help you out.
  2. Track what you want to improve. If you can’t measure it, and you can’t track it, you can’t improve it.
  3. Distracted distraction. That’s one of my favorites. 

And I’m going to stop being your distraction now and let you get into 2023. I’ve got a lot of really exciting plans and I am excited for you to join me on the ride. Until next time. 


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Keywords: simple, focus, steps, simplify, lessons, tasks, task list, list, templates