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Focus on Cleanups
By Gary Lockwood
We all have messes in our lives. If you have stacks of paper
around your desk, you have a mess. When you procrastinate on an
incomplete project, it is a mess. Each time you drag out making
an important decision, you have another mess.
Messes are situations of disorder, conflict and incompletion.
Consciously and subconsciously, your mind keeps coming back to
these messes. They cause you to be distracted, lose energy,
break concentration and reduce your confidence. These loose
ends can include finances, relationships, your workspace,
physical well-being, agreements and legal contracts.
We don#t create a mess on purpose. It just happens. We get
busy and put off making that important change in our office. We
dread taking that unpleasant action and delay it again and
again. We allow an off-hand comment to go without a response
because we don#t want to deal with a confrontation.
On each of these occasions, we leave behind a situation that is
unresolved. Throughout the day, day after day, week after week,
our minds wander back to the mess. Because your mind keeps
processing this complication, you do not fully concentrate on
the truly important work at hand. Often, self-doubt sets in,
causing us to question ourselves. All this eats up your energy
and can make you feel weary. When you hear people say they are
mentally exhausted, you can bet they have messes.
When you clean up an unresolved predicament, then it stops
stealing brain cycles. When you resolve the situation, you can
move on to new opportunities. Each time you clean up a mess,
you increase concentration, confidence and energy.
So how do you go about this cleanup? Here are a few tips...
The first requirement is to recognize the messes. So often, we
keep plugging away at our lives without realizing that we#re
devoting lots of time and energy just coping with all these
unresolved issues. In my business coaching practice, I#ll
frequently see clients lugging around twenty or thirty messes
that are complicating their lives. When we begin articulating
these loose ends, we often discover that some can be cleaned up
in a matter of hours or even minutes.
Here#s a good exercise to start making you consciously aware of
your cleanup opportunities. On a piece of paper, draw two lines
that divide the sheet of paper into four sections. In one
section, write down all the projects that you have started, but
not yet completed. This should include small and large projects
at home and at the office.
In another section, note the projects you have not started yet.
These are the ones that you have been thinking about or
considering, but have not taken any action. Use the third
section for tasks that you are not doing, but want to start.
These may include things like blocking off some quiet time each
day, call a few key clients, write a letter, balance the
checkbook, exercise or read to your children.
In the fourth section of your sheet of paper, identify the
things you would like to change. This may include tasks you
would like to stop doing, the organization of your staff, your
working hours, or the technology you have in place.
Everything you have written in the four sections of this paper
represent an opportunity for cleanup. Some may be quick and
easy. Do those right away. Others may take awhile. Choose one
or two to tackle this month. If you clean up a mess a month, you
will see and feel a tremendous difference in your attitude,
energy and ability to focus.
Here#s another exercise that will help eliminate the messes. On
another sheet of paper, write down the things that you are
tolerating. We all have things we are putting up with. We
endure that sticky computer key because we don#t want to bother
fixing it. We condone an insolent staffer because it#s so much
trouble to replace them. We allow a supplier to make
consistently late deliveries because we don#t want the
Most of us discover that we have quite a list of tolerations.
There are two ways to remove a toleration from the list. One
way is to decide once and for all that we really want it this
way. We prefer it. We embrace this situation and are happy the
way it is.
The other way to get a toleration off the list is to take
action. Don#t put up with it anymore. Do something about it.
Get rid of the problem. Notice that I don#t say this is easy.
Some of these things have been around a long time and take some
work and tough decisions to fix. Yet, here again, when you stop
abiding by unacceptable situations, you increase your peace of
mind, concentration, confidence and energy.
Clearly, cleaning up messes and eliminating the things you
tolerate are major steps toward simplifying your life at work
and at home. The world is a complicated, messy place in which
to live. Don#t make it any harder by piling on more obstacles.
Take stock of your opportunities for cleanup. Take action to
simplify your life. Clean up those loose ends. Target a mess a
month and feel your energy and attitude soar.
# 1999 BizSuccess All rights reserved. No duplication
About the Author...
Gary Lockwood is Your Business Coach.
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Tags: Wisdom and Life Skills