There’s always loads of advice at this time of year on how to de-clutter your house or your desk, but this New Year how about de-cluttering your head? That would make a good New Year resolution.
One of the most common things people moan about is having way too much to do and not enough time to do it in. But all you need to do is a bit of mental de-cluttering. Just as unwanted clothes, books, bags and boxes can make your home feel messy and oppressive, so too can the weight of a lengthy and neglected To Do list.
1. Achieve more by doing less
The magic formula for tackling this humongous problem is to decide not to do everything.
That’s right. Get more done by not doing some things (ideally lots of things).
The reason our heads are so cluttered, often with worries over all the things we haven’t done, is that some of those things just aren’t worth doing in the first place. If we got a bit better at saying ‘no’, we’d be better able to manage our own agendas rather than living by someone else’s.
Obviously there are some things you’d rather not do at all but absolutely have to do – like shop for groceries, pay the bills, clean the fridge, etc. But there are probably a lot of other things that you don’t like doing that you don’t need to do at all. So stop doing them. And stop worrying about them.
2. Stop thinking ‘I should…’
These are the things that are so often prefaced by the words “I should’ when we talk about them. Ban the word SHOULD! Dump it. Consign it to a big black bin bag.
Instead focus your attention on doing really big important things that matter to you – that make you happy, that make you rich, that make you a better person etc etc.
3. How to get the small but horrible stuff that you can’t NOT do, done
You can try what we at MIAMI do and have a Procrastination Busting Day. We gather all the things we’ve been putting off and at the start of the day have a Skype call and tell each other what we’re going to get done. We then get on and do them and check in via Skype to share how we’re doing, sort roadblocks etc.
It’s easy to blitz through a huge pile of stuff that way and we can all encourage each other. In fact today is one of our PBDs and writing this article is one of the things on my list!
We got the idea for PBDs from the lovely Annabel Sutton who runsProcrastination Buster Days for individuals. Annabel provides great support and encouragement and has helped many people blitz their lists this way (including me).
Another approach is to do one horrible thing on your list every day – personally I don’t like this as it means every day is contaminated! – but lots of people do like the idea of small bite-sized chunks that can be knocked on the head quickly each day.
Here’s another trick I got from Annabel – the kitchen timer game – just do the nasties in ten minute chunks with a timer. You can gather a load of tasks and rotate through them 10 minutes at a time with the timer to tell you when to move onto the next one. Lots of very loud music also helps.
4. How to get the really big important stuff done
Divert the phone and don’t go near your email. In fact don’t open your email account at all until the end of the day (or if you’re desperate at lunch time). Tell friends and family that you’re away or otherwise engaged and shut yourself away to get it done.
Whether you’re making a dress, painting a ceiling, writing a book, or having a pamper, make sure you block the time out to get it done properly. You can also reward yourself at the end – a nice glass of wine usually does it for me – but a cake or a movie may work for you.
6. Have a sacred space to do it in!
Now this is where physical de-cluttering comes in – as it’s really important that whatever you want to get done, you have the space and equipment on hand to do it. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to sew, only to have to play “hunt the scissors”. And, if you work at a desk, you need a clear one – otherwise it’s going to distract you (playing “hunt the pencil” – or getting diverted by something else that’s sitting on the desk).
Of course this is a case of ‘Physician heal thyself!’ as I’m sitting here with an enormous pile of clutter on my desk – books, papers, stationery, wires, clock, sellotape, glue, camera, etc What a mess! One for the Egg Timer game tomorrow?