As the CEO of my own small business and mother to a young child, time is one of my most valuable resources... and it is very limited! Thusly, I must make a lot of compromises throughout my day, and, well, let's just say not everything on my to-do list always gets done in a timely manner. Frankly, said list had recently gotten a bit out of control. In creating the bad habit of sweeping some of my loose ends under the proverbial rug to be dealt with "later," as so many of us do, the huge pileup of undones was inadvertently zapping my energy, momentum, and focus. It took me getting pregnant with my second child to get real about all of these pesky incomplete tasks that were roaming around like free radicals in my brain and wreaking havoc on my subconscious.
There is something incredibly motivating about a mother-to-be's approaching due date that will really bring things into focus. It was about halfway through my pregnancy that all of a sudden my many loose ends had come into the light, demanding to be dealt with. For me, my nesting instinct went into overdrive and I set out determined to tackle my to-do list once and for all. Clearly, I was not all of a sudden going to have more free time on my hands once the baby got here. So, I sobered up and my "do it later" quickly became my "do it now."
In the course of a few months, my house went through a major overhaul: rooms rearranged, garage cleared out, nursery put together, walls painted, closets and drawers organized, carloads of items donated, gardens planted. Phew! The cleaning frenzy even carried over into my workspace as I got incredibly clear on the vision for my business and where we needed to be heading with our short-term and long-terms goals. I restructured the organization and refocused where my time was spent. I even tackled my arch-nemesis, the email inbox, and got my number of unread items down to zero. For me, this alone was a huge accomplishment. And it all felt amazingly invigorating!
As I worked through my list, I noticed how much more relaxed I was feeling. New energy was found for jumping into other projects. It was an incredibly freeing process since the energy spent on not doing things was sub-consciously draining me. When you store up a big enough backlog of untied ends and neglected to-do list items, your mental energy becomes drained and new ideas become blocked. It's a very common occurrence and we often don't even realize it is happening. Putting things off and procrastinating robs your of your sense of control. The longer it goes on, the more things pile up and the more daunting the tasks become. The typical reaction to this is to avoid the tasks even more as you tell yourself, "I will get to that later." Instead, you find yourself wasting time in various unproductive ways such as mindlessly perusing the Internet or watching TV. Since it is more difficult to focus when your mind is cluttered and your energy levels are low, even when you do finally decide to attempt a task or two, you might not find yourself as productive as you could be.
Are you ready to stop the cycle? Fantastic! The good news is you don't have to get pregnant to find the momentum to take control of your life. Here are some tips on how to go about tying up loose ends to free up mental energy:
1. Identify the Background Noise
Determine and make a list of all the things you have been putting off. Include all aspects of your life in the thought process: work, home, relationships, future goals and dreams, etc. Really stretch your brain and be sure to include all tasks, big and small.
2. Get Clear
Determine which of your to-dos are even still relevant and important to you. Issue pardons on anything that has already resolved itself and/or no longer serves you or needs your attention. Can it be absorbed by someone else? Great! Be sure to make a sub-list of anything that can/should be delegated.
3. Make a "Just Do It!" List
Now that you've clearly honed in on what your focus should be, write "Just Do It" on top of your list to set your intention into place and let the universe know you mean business. Sometimes even a small acknowledgement like this can set energy into motion and help breathe life into new habits being built.
4. Divide and Conquer
Organize your list: What can be done in five minutes or less? Sub-list those items out and then burn through them in one sitting! Can any other tasks be grouped together? For any items that will take a little more time and energy, come up with a realistic timeframe of how long they will take to complete and then schedule them out.
5. Commit to Completion
Don't wait until tomorrow! Start right now and have a clear endpoint in mind. Declare you commitment to completing these tasks by actually scheduling them into your calendar. Treat these calendar appointments as if they are just as important as any other scheduled event in your life and do not cancel them. If something does come up and you have to skip a task -- don't just neglect it completely. Be sure to reschedule to a new time when you will be able to address it.
As you slough the items off your list and get closer to your goal of completion, be sure to notice your clear head, renewed energy, and increased momentum and focus. Now, recognize your accomplishments and savor your success by celebrating! Our life is a reflection of what is in our mind, after all. Make it clear, free, and vibrant. There is truly peace in completion -- enjoy it!
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