When it comes to juggling all the things in life, it can be a challenge.
In some recent conversations with Focus Course members, folks were sharing that their ideal day would consist of: (1) personal, self-development time; (2) deep work time; and (3) time for their most important relationships.
David Sparks is someone who has a lot of spinning plates. He is a solo attorney, podcaster, writer, dad, and husband.
I wanted to interview David in order to learn more about how he handles getting it all done.
In our video conversation, David and I discussed the challenges of staying focused, the importance of an end-of-day shutdown routine, advice for making big career changes, and more.
Note: This video interview is part of our 2019 Fall Focus Course registration. If you want to get access to The Focus Course, you can sign up now.
Highlights, Quotes, and Takeaways
Focus is not a destination.
Focus is a place that you can visit, but you’ve got to actively stay there.
It’s like falling in love — it doesn’t end the day you fall in love. You’ve got to fall into focus; you’ve got to stay there. And, thus, the flip side of that is occasionally you’re going to fall off the wagon.
When that happens — when you break your routine, or you lose focus — you just get back to it. You wake up, turn the page, and keep going.
You cannot work all the time. Your productivity will fall off the cliff if you do.
On the importance of an end-of-work-day shutdown.
Usually one of the most important things in my life that I’ve learned over the last few years of doing this stuff is the nighttime shutdown. If I stop at 4:30 every day and I deal with whatever the email is from the day and I plan the next day and I actually write it down on a piece of paper — I go analog at the end of the day. And then when I wake up, then I just start doing it.
David Sparks on quitting his job in order to have more control of his schedule (to focus on writing, podcasting, finding his voice, and doing creative work that he loves):
I was at a law firm for many years but then I went out on my own. I used to go to court every day and stand in front of juries in fancy suits. And that was by far the most lucrative practice as a lawyer. Because when you go to court it’s really expensive and lawyers charge a lot of money.
But I realized very quickly that if I really wanted to make stuff as MacSparky — and if I wanted to to use this voice that I feel like I have to use — I was going to have to stop doing litigation.
So one of the toughest things I did was decide to turn away my most lucrative business.
I stopped doing litigation, and my income took a massive hit. Instead I’m doing more general business practice for my clients, which doesn’t earn nearly as much.
But that was one of the most important things I did because suddenly I had more control over my schedule.
Some people say you can’t put a price on happiness, but I actually can. I know the difference between the money I was making as a litigator and the money I’m making now, and I know that that was the price of happiness for me. And I would pay it again without any doubt.
David’s advice to someone considering a possible career shift into more creative work:
If you’re unhappy and you’re working on something else, you can’t just jump overboard. You’ve got to build your parachute before you jump out of the airplane with it.
Make sure that you’ve got something else working.
The way I did it was very slowly over many years. And I think that is probably the answer — especially if you have a lot of commitments.
If you’re on your own, if you don’t have a lot of monthly expenses, you’ve got more flexibility and feel free. But if you’ve got commitments in your life then you must be responsible about it at the same time. And it’s going to take a while. But go easy on yourself and be willing to try stuff.
David Sparks on his experience with The Focus Course:
Thank you, Shawn, for everything you’ve brought. Your course was a big help for me, and you’ve definitely been one of my mentors on this journey and I really appreciate it.
Your Focus Course helps folks figure out where they want to go and how to get there. For anyone feeling adrift, or just wanting to help get themselves more focussed, they should check it out.
Our 2019 Fall Registration for The Focus Course is currently open. You can sign up for The Focus Course now.