“The past is a foreign country,” author L.P. Hartley famously wrote in his book The Go-Between. Perhaps that’s why we hold on to the postcards…
How many times have you walked by the console in the hallway and reminded yourself, “I really need to put a new lightbulb in that lamp” but was too busy to actually do it?
How many times have you said to yourself things like: “I should learn that new software… I should really hire that personal assistant… I should use that old sewing machine my mom left here for me… I should give the dog a bath…”?
How many times have you moved the last ten items on your ever-growing to-do list to the next day for weeks on end?
There’s no shame in any of it. Most of us are quite ambitious, have great intentions, and have super busy lives. Sometimes, you just can’t accomplish everything you’d like to accomplish. So, we prioritize—obviously. Turns out, there are things that are more important than replacing lightbulbs. 😉
But those burnt out lightbulbs can actually start having a negative effect on you! You see, believe it not, they are pulling on your energy. Every time you walk by some unfinished thing, your attention is momentarily pulled away from whatever you’re doing and it’s directed towards the unfinished thing. Furthermore, it’s usually followed by negative self talk (ranging from a mild reminder to get it done all the way to beating yourself up because you’ve now labeled yourself as incompetent with yet another task that you have not yet completed). Negative self talk is sneaky, and it really deserves a whole other article. Let’s just agree that it’s not good for ya.
Am I being dramatic? Perhaps a bit. But perhaps not. Hear me out, here. You see, all the metaphorical and literal lightbulbs add up as dozens, hundreds, thousands… of energetic tethers of what can be referred to as ‘incomplete cycles of action’ that are requesting your attention. Every time we are reminded of a thing we haven’t finished, it tugs at us, and takes up space in our brains vs. when we have completed something, we usually don’t think about it anymore. It doesn’t ‘pull at us.’
Sometimes it’s hard to focus because you’ve got something on your mind that’s distracting you, or maybe you’re hyperactive from too much coffee, or maybe you’re just hyperactive. 😉 And sometimes, it’s hard to focus because there are undercurrents of tons of these energetic pulls all around you vying for your attention.
Before you respond with overwhelm to this, here is a simple solution to dealing with these incomplete cycles of action and pulling your energy back to yourself so you can focus on the things that are really important to you.
1. Set at least one full day aside. If you can’t do a full day, commit to several hours dedicated solely to eliminating as many incomplete cycles as possible.
2. Make a giant list of all those pesky unfinished things.
3. Then create a new list with different columns, or do some color coding to further categorize them. I personally use these headings: a.) important and quick to accomplish, b.) important and time consuming, c.) quick to accomplish, d.) not actually worth my time and energy. Categories a and c are no-brainers. You can start feeling super good about yourself by just going ahead and literally doing all those quick to accomplish tasks during your allocated time frame right away.
4. Go ahead and start completing all those things right away! You’ve set time aside so use it.
5. Make (and keep) appointments with yourself and practice time management. Category b of ‘important and time consuming’ is a bit trickier and I’d suggest you actually schedule an appointment on your own calendar and keep your own commitment to yourself to get it done on that day and in the time frame you gave it (as much as possible).
6. Just decide you ain’t gonna do it! Category d is actually my favorite. This is the category of things that you’ve had intentions to do but actually aren’t that important to you, aren’t a good use of your time, or don’t help you move forward in your life in any way. You can just go ahead and make the decision you are no longer going to do those things!!! Yup. It’s as simple as that. You free up an enormous amount of energy by just clearing it from your plate, without judgement, and with total happiness and freedom. If the thing still needs to be done (i.e. cutting the grass), but it’s not a good use of your time, delegate it or hire someone else to do it. Whatever you do, just cut the energetic tie that you have to that thing.
You may not see the power of this process until you actually do it. You might read this and think, “Sounds nice. Probably not gonna sit here and make lists, lady.” But trust me, once you try this even one time, you’ll see how light and accomplished you feel afterwards. You will have a better ability to focus. Since your energy will now be concentrated on what you choose for it to be focused on instead of all those incomplete cycles of action tugging at you, you will automatically be more productive. Give it a try! Let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you.
I hope lots of stinky Canyon dogs get washed this week and lots of lightbulbs get replaced.