Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Are You Tolerating?

When we get busy and we have a lot on our plates, it’s easy to watch things slide. Unreturned emails and phone calls, an unclean bathroom, an unpaid bill, a long overdue apology, eating for convenience versus health – these things pile up over time. We become accustomed to tolerating clutter, distraction, and places where we are out of integrity because the pile seems unwieldy and we get overwhelmed.

We make many commitments and some are easier to keep than others. Some are to the people in our lives, where we try to be good friends, partners, family members, employees, citizens. Some are to ourselves, as we strive to be happy, healthy and responsible. When we are not honoring our commitments, there are a number of costs associated:
  • We feel bad about ourselves.
  • We create a space for others to be out of integrity with us.
  • We add to the physical and mental clutter that distracts us.
  • We sap our power and energy.
  • We feed our anxiety and stress.
In my life, I have struggled (as many do!) with procrastination. I have come a long way, but I still inflict it on myself now and again – particularly when the task is challenging, ambiguous, or is simply not urgent. I continually do this with filing personal paperwork. When I find myself procrastinating, it usually looks like this: I write it on my daily action list, put it off, then go to bed knowing I did not complete it. I wake the next day and repeat the process over again. This can go on for days or weeks as I suffer a little bit every day with this mental clutter. When I finally do bite the bullet and do the filing, it usually only takes about 20 minutes to complete it. I not only feel a sense of relief and satisfaction that I can finally cross it off my list, but I find myself saying: “Why did I suffer over this for so long?”

Get clear, commit to regaining your power, and get in action:
  1. Start by taking the Wheel of Life assessment.
  2. For each category, list every item that is sapping your power. Get clear about what you are tolerating, where your integrity is out, and what clutter is in your way. Include everything – big and small.
  3. Commit to tackling the list, one action at a time. Recognize that the return on investment is huge, yielding you more time, energy, and peace of mind. You will also open up space for what you really want to show up and breathe.
  4. Create support structures where you need them. Block out time in your calendar so you create the opportunity. Partner with others or ask for help – you don’t have to do it alone. Hire a coach.
  5. Start with the easy stuff and cross them off your list. For the more challenging ones, you may want to commit to taking on ONE action every day.
As you begin whittling down your list, you’ll find yourself compelled to keep your toleration list small. You’ll want to return email and phone calls right away. You’ll keep your work and living spaces more clutter-free – either on your own or with the support of others. You’ll be more cautious about what you say “yes” and “no” to, so you can be sure you can honor your commitments (and not over commit). Eliminate physical and mental distractions, open up space, and regain your power.

"As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment:

Judah S. Kurtz said...

A good post regarding clutter as a crutch: