I’ve been sharing the three ways to deal with the items in our internal junk drawer, those to-do list items that just don’t seem to ever get checked off. I went over the popular options of doing it, and delegating it to someone else. Today, let’s talk about the third option: dumping it. This one is often quite tempting, but isn’t right for every task!
There have been many articles written about getting rid of physical clutter, and quite a few on mental clutter (anyone who can search the Internet can find plenty, so I’m not listing them). They all have one thing in common—they propose a system for figuring out which items you no longer need.
Lots of systems say to make different columns of categories, or piles of paper, or whatever. For physical things, it’s “keep, donate, and discard.” For activities, it might be do now, do later (the subject of another post), delegate, discard. I’d recommend picking a time once a week or once a month to look over your list of things to do and evaluate what’s on it. How do you decide, though, which of the things that you put on your list for a very good reason a while back no longer need to be carried forward?
Your quick review will probably bring up a few easy dump it candidates. You really don’t need to make reservations for that movie that’s no longer showing, or plant those basil seeds in mid-summer. The time has passed! Other items may be more iffy. Identifying your borderline items is a good start.
Once you have a set of things that are potential “dump it” candidates, ask yourself a few easy questions:
- Will my business suffer if I don’t do this? (Perhaps you are putting off your coaching calls?)
- Will my personal relationships be affected if I don’t do this? (Then call your chatty aunt, even if you know it won’t be fun)
- Will I EVER realistically have time to do it? (Ah, those website redesigns)
- Are there any other dire consequences that will occur if I don’t do this item? (Other than a blow to your ego for not being a task-finishing machine)
It’s hard to let go, believe me, I know. But if you get a NO for some lingering thing you are “supposed” to do, maybe you just don’t have to do it. Sure, there may be some consequences, but if they are minor, it’s time to give yourself permission to draw a big line (physical ones are more fun, but it can be mental) through that thing, and let it go.
I find that if I eliminate items on my own list (which is partly physical and partly mental), I have renewed energy to tackle the things I haven’t already delegated or done.
So, those are my Three Ds of Mental Delegation, in brief. As I hinted earlier, there is actually one other option for managing your mental clutter, one I’ve not mentioned before—DEFER! I hadn’t even wanted to put that thought in my readers’ minds until I went over the ones that make the to-do list smaller. The next post in this series will talk about taking the items that are left on your list after a rigorous application of the Three Ds, prioritizing them, and deferring items until later. I just need to put it off for a while, since we have some other posts that need to go out. Ha! I already deferred something.
Any comments? We’d love to hear from you, and there’s a comment button right below. And if you need us for anything else, don’t hesitate to call 512-807-8777.
And oh yes, sign up to get blog posts in email!