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Clean Up For Clarity And Productivity  

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.

Eliminating “Stuff.”

“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 something else.

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 slipping in.

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 purpose:
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.

Getting Started:

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
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