Did you ever have that feeling like a cloud of lively bats is swarming about your head? I have and it’s really challenging to get bat guano out of a sweater.
Seriously though, having a lot of incompletes is like that cloud of bats–those unfinished tasks just won’t leave me alone. Even when I’ve moved on to other things, my brain keeps going back to that thing (or things) that I didn’t finish. Over time, each task becomes a new bat, flapping around my head and pooping all over the place. I liken all the poop to the exhaustion I begin to experience after so many unfinished bats . . . that is tasks, accumulate.
Leaving the bat analogy behind, I could look at why I let so many incompletes build up, but that’s a flight for another day. Instead I’d like to look at both the momentum and the feeling of the experience of completion: to have all possible areas in my life up to date/current.
- I look in my email inbox and it’s empty–at zero!
- I have one book I’m reading, instead of 12 sitting in various places of my home with bookmarks
- All my clothes are clean, folded, and put away
- All my shoes are in their little shoe compartments
- I don’t have to search my memory for the last time I called my Grandma because I’m still laughing about the story she told me last Sunday I’m not wondering if I’ll have to stay up all night to finish that paper for class. It’s already printed :)
- I’m not worrying about being short for my car (credit card, rent) payment because I made sure to show up for work and pay all those things first before buying that velveteen Elvis print from eBay
One thing I’m aware of when it comes to completion: it brings in momentum like a freight train. Well, a really awesome, pleasant, energy-filled freight train. So if you’ve got some projects you haven’t even started, now is a great time to complete those, too, what with all the forward momentum you’ve got.
Completion also brings space, as in internal space. This can be a little scary or intimidating since we’ve grown so used to all those incompletes taking up residence in our brains. What to do with all that space! Lately, I’ve been enjoying the extra space (which can also be interpreted as time) to do fun things I hadn’t wanted to do because my brain kept telling me I needed to do something else.
What can we do to support ourselves in just getting this stuff done? I know there’s a book out called ‘Eat That Frog,’ but I really like frogs, so that brings up unpleasant images for me. What the author is referring to (rather than ingesting our awesome amphibian friends) is just DOING. I like to start with a small project/task and really praise myself for completing it. Then, I’ll focus on the next small task, and so on. You may find you do better with starting with the biggest thing first. Crossing or deleting items off a list can be very satisfying, as can crossing off everything on the list and discarding it, perhaps by burning.
Now that is freedom.
Here are a couple links to either systems or learnings I find helpful in my personal productivity and organization:
- David Allen‘s book ‘Getting Things Done’ is an amazing guide for learning new tools and practices (I don’t use everything since I’m not a CEO, but many of his ideas and systems are really helpful)
- Learn some of the basics of Excel (the spreadsheet program). Fundamental knowledge of how to make a simple spreadsheet or list can help you in more ways than you can imagine.
- Create some quiet time to explore or journal about resistance to getting things done or why particular tasks have been hanging out for a while. This is also a great topic to explore with your therapist.
- Make tasks fun! Listen to your favorite upbeat or soothing music, light a yummy-smelling candle while you work, invite a friend to help and offer to help her with her big project (think cleaning out the basement together)