Clean Up For Clarity
If you’re a successful
entrepreneur, chances are you have a lot going on in your head most of
the time. Sometimes all this activity may leave you feeling charged up,
other times it may simply leave you feeling overwhelmed. When you’ve got
so much on your mind that you can’t focus on being as innovative and
creative as you’d like to be, it’s time to free up some head space for
real productivity. The best way to do this is a good, old-fashioned
“spring cleaning.” How do you clear out a cluttered mind? Start by
eliminating the stuff and messes that drain your energy and distract
your attention from the really important things you need to focus on to
create great results.
When you’ve got so much on your mind that you can’t focus on being as
innovative and creative as you’d like to be, it’s time to free up some
head space for real productivity.
“Stuff” is all the clutter — the unnecessary, unwanted junk in your
life. It can be tangible, like those boxes of files you’ve been wanting
to get rid of, or intangible, like the time you spend worrying about
whether tasks you delegated got done. You probably have an innate sense
of what “stuff” is, but here’s a simple test for highlighting it
quickly: Is this productive?
In those areas of life in which you’re trying to be most productive,
other things inevitably flow into the gaps. It’s important to stop every
once in a while and evaluate what is and isn’t essential, then offload
any accumulated “stuff” before it turns into a mess.
The Danger of Messes.
Some activities and relationships are boring, taxing, or tinged with
negativity. A natural response is to simply ignore them. If you do this
long enough, though, they can turn into “messes” — which still take up
your mental energy even if you’re not dealing with them. Left
unattended, these can become serious problems later on.
Perhaps there’s someone whose performance isn’t up to scratch, but
you’ve just been letting it slide. Maybe you have a legal or personal
issue you’ve put on a back burner. As long as a situation is unresolved,
it steals your mental resources, like a memory-hogging program running
in the background on your computer while you’re trying to work on
The test for a mess goes like this:
M = O – C
A mess is an obligation to which you have no commitment.
It’s easy to let messes linger when you feel guilty about saying no or
hesitant about confronting an awkward situation. Ultimately, though,
stalling contributes nothing while taxing your resources and keeping
others waiting. It’s better for everyone if you simply deal with it,
delegate it to someone else, or openly rescind your involvement — in
short, if you clean it up.
All In Good Time.
Most people would agree that “spam” e-mail is very annoying. It’s
unwanted, intrusive, and an irrelevant waste of your attention. Chances
are, though, it’s not the only thing in your life with those qualities.
How many needless interruptions are there in your personal and
professional time that prevent you from focusing on something better?
These disruptions are like “time-spam.” Just as your e-mail needs
filtering these days, so does the rest of your life. By controlling the
way your time is used — by you and by others — you eliminate “stuff” and
messes and give yourself permission to focus on the task at hand.
A Time System For Entrepreneurs.
Many entrepreneurs deal with their time as one undistinguished mass. All
their time is available to the business, and they’re always personally
available. It’s easy to see how this can lead to unwanted distractions
If this is how you currently relate to time, you might try using The
Entrepreneurial Time System® instead. In this system, your time is
divided into three different types of days, each with a specific
On Free Days™, you’re away from the business — completely away, with no
interruptions. This allows you to rejuvenate yourself and take care of
relationships, commitments, and interests you have outside of work.
On Focus Days™, your aim is productivity, concentration on your best
business opportunities and relationships.
On Buffer Days™, you handle all the preparation that’s necessary for
taking great Free Days and Focus Days.
No dumping zone.
Another great strategy for eliminating clutter from your life is to get
rid of the place where it always gets dumped: your office. It sounds
radical at first, but it’s actually possible to operate using a
temporary work space when you’re in the office, handing everything back
again when you leave. It requires a lot of trust and effective
delegation, but it can give you an enormous boost in productivity.
The non-acceptables.To get started with your spring cleaning, identify
three things in your life that are no longer acceptable to you — such as
“stuff,” messes, or intrusions on your time — and create a plan for
doing something about them.
Is there a difficult client you’ve been meaning to deal with? Are you
out of touch with someone important to you? Is there anything that’s
distracting you from what really matters? Determine a strategy and a
time frame for dealing with these three “non-acceptables.”
When you spring clean your office space and your mental space, you’ll
enjoy a fresh breeze of clarity, simplicity, and ease in your life.
© 2007 The Strategic Coach