No Buts Allowed: How to Eliminate Clutter and Increase Productivity

No Buts Allowed: How to Eliminate Clutter and Increase Productivity

We live in a wondrous moment in history. We have more information at our fingertips than our ancestors could ever imagine. But limitless information is also a curse. Too much information leads to indecision, inability to focus and mental numbness. We’ve all seen the symptoms of information overload time and again in our clients and in ourselves.

Successful people are those who learn to harness information in a way that propels them toward the fulfillment of their definite chief aim. Last week we discussed the first step in this process: how to clarify your definite chief aim. This week we’ll look at the next step: creating the space in which to manifest your heart’s desire.

The creative force is the cosmic “YES!”  Unfortunately too often when someone speaks of their dreams, their story is “Yes, I want to do that, but…”  This “Yes, but..” attitude often stalls our manifestation plans before they even get off the ground.  So this week, we are going to clear the decks of all the pesky “buts” so we can ride the waves of “YES!”

Don’t multitask. Do one thing.

In our high-speed world, the temptation to try and do multiple things at once is enormous. But study after study has shown that productivity dramatically decreases when multitasking. The mind flits from one tasking to another, lacking the mental force to accomplish any of them.

Practice cultivating mindful attention by doing one thing at a time. Start with something simple. For example, when you do the dishes; do the dishes. Don’t think about your grocery lists or tomorrow’s meetings or yesterdays arguments. Just do the dishes. Pay attention to the water, its temperature, the weight of the dishes, the sounds.

Through practice, you’ll develop you’re powers of concentration, which will serve you in all areas of your life. You’ll also realize that you can recharge your mind in any moment just from being completely present in that moment.  Try it for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

Love it, Use it or Lose it.

Clearing out physical clutter can be an act of sympathetic magic for clearing out mental clutter. In order to manifest something new, you need to make space for it to occur. If you don’t love something or use something, why are you wasting energy by holding on to it?  Let it go.

Set aside some time each day to clear out the physical clutter from your life. Get three boxes, one for “give away/sell,” one for ‘recycle” and one for “trash.” Go through your work places, living spaces even your car.  If you’ve got a lot of clutter, you may need to divide up the project – one room at a time or one hour at a time.

Hold the intention that by removing the clutter you are making space in your life for something new and you will create a vortex that begins attracting new energies and possibilities that support your goals.

Everything has a Place, Everything in its Place.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the inessentials, it’s time to organize your resources to support the accomplishment of your “definite chief aim.” Books on getting organized and time management boil down to the same advice: create a structure where everything has a place and everything is in its place.

Why is this structure important? Because it has to do with how we project our clear intentions into the physical world.  Like a tea ceremony in which every action has significance, our everyday space can become infused with intentions which support us toward the achievement of our definite chief aim. Also, the act of showing up at the same place or the same time for something makes it easier to form the habits that carry us along like a river’s current toward our goals.

Create a workspace devoted to your business, a room or a corner. Look at what tasks you need to perform (email, writing, reading, etc.) and create workstations for these tasks. Your workstation should include all the items you need for the task close at hand, so it supports you in your task.

The same goes for managing your time. Time is like space, only it manifests sequentially rather than simultaneously. Time-boxing is a system that encourages scheduling your tasks in specific segments of time to maximize efficiency.  Some highlights of the time-boxing method:

  • Set aside quality time to work toward your goals every day.
  • Set time limits for how long you will work on a task. Learn when things are “good enough” and move on to the next item on the list.
  • Eliminate procrastination. If it’s important, just do it. If it’s not, get rid of it.
  • Bundle small tedious tasks together to keep them from interfering with more important tasks
  • Schedule times to read and respond to email and phone calls. Turn off email and your phone during the blocks you’ve assigned to high-importance tasks

There are many tools available to help you manage your to-do lists and schedule. Because they sync across my iPhone, iPad and laptop, I use Google calendar and OmniFocus. I also use a 31-day tickler file for items that involve paper.  Find something that fits your personal style to help you stay on track.

Stick to Your Plan

Once you’ve cleared the decks, and set up the spaces and schedules to work toward your definite chief aim, now you need to work the plan. Each day, outline your chief aims for the day.  Then concentrate on doing those things. You’ll be exercising your mental muscles all the way from inattention, to concentration of effort to manifestation. With each successful completion of a task, you’ll be more adept at mastering the next task.

When new information or opportunity comes your way, you can use the following rule:

  • If it doesn’t aid you in attaining your “definite chief aim,” toss it.
  • If you can do it in 2 minutes or less, just do it.
  • If it takes longer than 2 minutes, schedule it

For larger projects that seem insurmountable, break them down into smaller components and tackle them one at a time. If you devote a little time each day, you will eventually achieve your aim.

In order to stay organized, set aside 15 or 30 minutes each day to check in with yourself. How did you do on your definite chief aims for the day? What adjustments do you need to make? What are your new aims for the coming day? Writing down your goals and your progress is the single best way to guarantee your successful achievement of them.

Focus on the Positive

Taming information overload in your life is an ongoing process.  Some days will be more productive than others. Never waste time beating yourself up. Instead maintain a positive outlook and focus on your successes. Make tasks a game, and see how much you can get done. Always reward yourself when you finish a task, meet one of your goals or your milestones.

Cultivate Balance

In this 24/7 world of instant communication, we all struggle to keep work and the rest of our lives in their places. If you do some of your work at home, keep work in your workspace. If you’ve got work spread all over your home, you will feel like work is overrunning your life. Same goes for your business hours; make sure you make time for your personal life and stick to it with intention as well. There’s nothing sweeter than playtime savored with your full attention!

Questions for Discussion

  • What are the “buts” in your life that keep you from saying Yes! to your success?
  • What tools have you found helpful to manage information overload?
  • How do you reward your successes?