Clearing Your Messes and Incompletes

Looking for ways to clear your overwhelm? This is a modified productivity strategy to help clear your messes & incompletes so you can free up your mental bandwidth for better decisions.

Show Notes: For those who prefer to read rather than watch

In previous days, we focused mainly on helping you to understand why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling during the pandemic.

We looked at why you’ve been feeling exhausted, and why you find yourself acting out and doing strange and random things that you didn’t think you’d ever find yourself doing (also known as being In the Grip). We’ve also talked about why your decisions might be less than optimal at the moment.

Today we’re going to look at some strategies to help you to deal with the overwhelm and help you to make better quality decisions.

We’re using a strategy that we’ve adapted from Jack Canfield, which is looking at your “Incompletes and your Messes”.

Every mess that you’ve got around you and everything that you’ve left incomplete takes energy. So for example, if you’ve got a pile of invoices sitting there and you haven’t done your BAS, or you haven’t entered all your data, or you’ve got your FBT outstanding, or you’ve started a craft project, and you just haven’t finished it – every time you walk past it, it, your brain sort of ticks at it for a bit.

It’s like having a hundred tabs open on your browser, and it clogs your brain and slows you down. Today we’re going to close some of these open mental tabs to help give you mental bandwidth to cope with what’s going on at the moment.

Step 1: List Your Messes and Incompletes

Get a piece of paper and draw three columns (or you could download the worksheet and use that).

At the top of your first column write Incompletes and Messes. (We’ll talk about the other two columns in a minute).

Next jot down in that column every mess or everything that you’ve left incomplete.

What does that mean? It might be things like projects that you haven’t yet finished, decisions that you know you’ve got to make, but you haven’t made a decision yet. Promises that you made that you haven’t delivered or just messes that you know that you’ve got to clean up.

Jot all them down in the left-hand column.

It might help you to categorise them. Perhaps start with financial messes which might be completing your FBT, doing your BAS, chasing outstanding invoices, paying outstanding invoices things like that.

You might then choose the next category as your IT. What messes have you got in technology?

You might have things like you may not have run backups on your systems. You might be using duplicate passwords across a number of sites, or you may not have changed your passwords for some time. You may not have patched your software so you might have technology that’s running out-of-date software.

Then look at your employee messes. Have you promised your employees that you’re going to do something for them? That you’re going to write a letter for them or research something for them? Have you checked in with your employees during the pandemic? Have you called them or checked in just to see how they’re tracking, how they’re feeling?

Have you paid their superannuation? Have you run your payroll or have you checked the payrolls to make sure that you’ve got all current details and are paying the correct entitlements?

Then look at your office mess. Your office mess might be when did you last do a deep clean of all of the computers and that the desks and the phones for COVID-19.

Have you got piles of paper in your office that you haven’t sorted? Have you got things to file? Have you got things to shred that you haven’t done? Have you sorted the stationery cupboard?

Then look at project messes. Do you have finished projects or half-finished projects and you didn’t complete them properly? Have you not closed the files off correctly or not gotten in touch with the person to do the completion reports? Have you not sought feedback from them on how the project went for them?

Now list out your decisions. What decisions do you know that you need to make but you haven’t yet made? Add them to your list.

Then look at your other messes as there’s always a whole pile of other messes that are out there.

This is where you might put in the craft projects that you’ve meant to do, testimonials that someone’s asked you to do and you haven’t yet done for them. You can also add in people that you might need to forgive or people you might need to resolve some issues with.

To complete your task sheet get a nice big cup of tea and sit in the sun for your quick sunshine break and write every little mess that you can think of under those categories in that first column.

Then take a deep breath and move to the next column.

Step 2: Dump It – Delegate It – Do It

The next column is your Delegate It , Dump It or Do It column.

Go through every single item on your list and then figure out, is this something that you are going to delegate or outsource to someone else to do, dump and not do it anymore or do it – tasks that you still need to do.

Go through your list and figure out, delegate, dump it or do it.

Step 3: First Tiny Actions

Once you’ve got that column completed, then you go across to the third column, your first tiny actions column.

Go through each of those dot points again and jot down what are the first tiny, tiny steps that you need to do against each of those points.

For example, if it’s a Delegate It task, it might be, “I need to delegate this task to Mary, and my first step is going to be to set the project parameters” because you never just dump something on someone. You have to tell them what scope they’ve got to act and what you need them to do.

If the task is a Dump It task the first step may be to get that craft project, put it in a bag and take it to Vinnie’s.

If your task is a Do It task, work out that the first step is going to be. For example, it might be open Xero and pull out your BAS folder and put the invoices into the correct date order.

Once you have your list of messes and you’ve figured out whether you’re going to delegate, dump it or do it, you then figure out the first tiny, tiny action steps, not the whole project, just the first tiny, tiny steps.

Now go and get another cup of tea or go for a little walk.

Step 4: Dump It Day!

Congratulations! Today is your Dump It day!

If you do nothing else, go through your entire list and do all of your dumpers today. Go through and clear everything that’s on your Dump It list. That might mean putting your client folders into the filing cabinet and closing it. It might be doing the Vinnies run.

Doing the Dump Its will create some good mental bandwidth as it’s going to close many of those open tabs we’ve talked about in your mind.

Step 5: Prioritise Your Delegate It Tasks

Next thing you’re going to do, you’re going to look at your Delegate list. With your Delegate list find the top three best things that you’re going to delegate.

Now, best is very subjective, and it totally up to you. What does best mean for you? Work out what those three best things that you are going to delegate and write them down on a piece of paper.

Make sure that you’ve got them down, so you know what your three best things are. Then go back and work out what’s the one very best out of those three things? What’s the one very best thing that you can delegate?

That one very best thing you are going to delegate needs to be transferred across to your Daily To-Do list.

Step 6: Prioritise Your Do It Tasks

Next thing you’re going to tackle the tasks you have marked as To Do.

First, you are going to do another sift of your To-Do list. These are the projects that you’ve said that you’re going to continue to do, but on that list, there will be short projects –  things that are going to take less than 20 minutes,  and things that are a bit longer.

Sort your list and create a Less than 20-minute list, so that becomes a separate sheet of paper with all of the things that are going to take less than 20 minutes to do. Put all of those tasks on that sheet.

Now there are two ways you can tackle that list. You might have one day where you knock over all your 20-minute projects. That’s good on those days that you just can’t get the motivation to do much, so you just power through the things on your less than 20-minute list.

The other way is you just pick up a 20-minute project now and again when you’ve got a gap in your day. But make sure you move all your less than 20-minute projects over onto a separate list just to clear mental space.

That will leave your long To-Do list.

Look at all the projects/tasks on that To-Do list, and then do the same sort that we did before.

Go through and ask yourself, what are the three best things out of this long list that I need to do? What are the three very best things that I can do?

Jot down the three very best things to do with the best being subjective. It might be the things that would make the most difference. It might be the things that have got the highest potential or the things that have been hanging around too long. It doesn’t matter. Whatever your best is.

So what are the three very best things that you can do right now? Then go back and have another look at these top 3 and ask yourself what’s the number one very, very best. Out of those three, what’s the number one very, very best thing that you can do out of your To-Do list?

That that number one, very best thing needs to be transferred across to your daily To-Do list.

Putting It All Together

So at the end of this process, you’re going to have over on your daily To-Do list one thing you are going to delegate and one very best thing to start or to do.

Remember, you’re not doing the whole project or thing. You’re just doing those little tiny action steps that we’ve jotted down already.

That’s what you’re going to do today.

And remember, today is your day to dump all the stuff you marked as Dump it.

What’s going to happen at the end of this process is you’ll have a lot more mental bandwidth. Because you’re going to close a hundred open mental tabs all at once, you’ll have a lot more clarity and have the energy to tackle some of those tasks.

The best bit is that you’ll create space for synchronicity. Synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence or happy coincidence.

When you’ve got a thousand things happening at once, and your brain is frantic, what happens is you don’t have space for creativity or to notice synchronicity or those happy coincidences.

By doing this process, as soon as you’ve dumped your Dump Its and then figured out your To Do’s and To Delegates, I then want you to watch what happens to you in the next 24 hours.

Because what will happen, and I guarantee this, what will happen is you’ll see an article or social media post that will trigger a thought. Or you’ll have an idea – just a random idea out of nowhere. Or you’ll bump into somebody at your one acceptable shop outing each week during the pandemic, and something will happen.

That will be the start of triggering a whole new path or a new direction for you.

By clearing your messes and incompletes, you allowed space for synchronicity to kick in and you’ve also reduced your stress, and you’ve made better quality decisions.

About the Author

Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle (BA - Psych/Industrial Relations) is the Chief Web Wizard at Heart Harmony Communications. A self-confessed multipotentialite, Ingrid shamelessly blends her passions of human resources, psychology, web design and copywriting. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.
Bowler hat with lightbulb.

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