"Oh my goodness, what is in here?"
Lifting her briefcase, Susan realized it had been weeks since her last trip, and she still had papers and folders unprocessed.
"Oh well," she thought, "I'm running late for that meeting, I'll just bring it all."
Look around your workspace right now. What needs your attention? Whether it's a wallet or a purse, your mind, or your desk, this accumulation can have a negative effect.
Our language is loaded with phrases such as, "a situation weighs heavy on our heart," "the weight of the world is resting on our shoulders," "we feel bogged down in all the details." The result: feeling exhausted, frustrated, and impatient.
The following is a specific key to success in lightening the load on your body and mind. This is a practical activity, one you can do to reduce the unnecessary physical and psychological stress you may be carrying around right now. Wouldn't it be worth it to invest less than one half of an hour to regain some confidence and control?
Removing this literal and figurative baggage will free you up to make decisions more clearly, feel lighter, move quicker, and be present while handling each situation. Let go of some of the stuff you are worrying about and start making progress on priorities.
Lighten the Physical Load
Start with something small: a purse, wallet, or briefcase. Empty it out onto a table until it is completely bare, down to the lining. Review one item at a time and keep only what belongs: valid credit cards, active membership cards, keys that open current doors, any other licenses.
Congratulations. Now that it is complete, put it off to the side. What have you left on the table? Are there loose coins, old mints, food wrappers, random receipts, or expired credit cards? Are there scraps of paper with information you need such as a phone number or a note to give a co-worker?
Were you surprised by how much you had? As basic as this exercise seems, people are shocked by the excess weight they carry. They also feel embarrassed to show others the strange pile of leftover stuff they carry with them wherever they go. On one level, these things add unnecessary weight. On another, they add clutter to your mind.
When you reach into your bag and can't find what you need, (but you know it is in there somewhere) you are creating undue stress and frustration. It also slows you down and creates mistrust of your system. By cleaning house, you give yourself the freedom to gather other, perhaps even more relevant, information that might be useful later.
Are there places you would be uncomfortable showing clients, co-workers, or friends? Why? Most likely, it doesn't represent you in a positive way. Do you have stacks of papers covering your desk, drawers full of knickknacks, or a messy car full of reference materials and old coffee cups? Those places are weighing on your mind, just as the excess stuff was weighing on your bag.
Whatever these things are, consider processing them thoroughly. Over the next week, select one area for this method of focusing. Keep what is current, necessary, and relevant. Get rid of anything that is old, expired, or distracting you. Imagine how good you would feel when your house, car, desk drawers, kitchen counter, office space—your whole world—is this squeaky clean.
The obvious benefit will be having a tidy space. But the real value comes from creating a surrounding that supports you and your work, allowing your mind to be free.
Useful information may be coming your way and passing you by because your mental storage is already full. Creating a system will open up space for meeting relevant people, reading new books, and making connections you may not have had the bandwidth to notice before. You may feel like the weight of the world has been lifted and notice there's a new spring in your step.
Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, and Jodi Womack, MA, help professionals up-level their organizational performance through maximizing time, energy, focus, and technology. To receive your own Personal Productivity Checklist, e-mail Jason and Jodi at: info@WomackCompany.com. For more information, visit www.womackcompany.com