Disarray muddles the mind. Your untidiness may be
• physical — in a jumble of boxes in the garage,
• mental — in pressures that need to be dealt with, or
• emotional — dreaded obligations that need to be addressed.
Physical clutter, even if hidden in boxes, leave a sense of discomfort and dread in the mind. When mental and emotional clutter are not faced head on, relationship and personal problems fester and grow. Continuing progress, on the other hand, results in a feeling of freedom, lightness, and hope.
Pick a box, a drawer, or a room in the house. By limiting your task to something small and achievable, you will not be overwhelmed. If you focus on a single task, you can accomplish a lot in ten minutes. The feeling of accomplishment as well as the pleasure of having a clutter free drawer or a corner of the garage will create motivation for the next day. Within a short time, the remarkable change in your physical environment will spread to your psychological state of mind.
If you put off a dreaded conversation—to apologize, to ask for help, to explain that you have to back out of a commitment, to discuss poor behavior—the situation or relationship will deteriorate. These dreaded conversations are easier to have early on before the negative pattern is ingrained. The weight of unfinished business hinders every aspect of your life. Feelings of guilt, resentment, or being overwhelmed burden work, relationships, and sleep with an uncomfortable sense of anxiety and foreboding.
Once you make the difficult phone call or talk to your boss, spouse, child, friend or creditor in a straightforward, respectful way, you will feel better. Rather than feeling stuck and constrained, you will be able to move forward with your life.
Your health and wellbeing are integrally connected to your physical and mental vitality. Injuries and conditions of ill health compound with age and directly affect your happiness, productivity, and the quality of relationships. For those who dread exercise, start by walking ten minutes at a time—around one block. No preparation is necessary, just go around the block. By setting an easy minimum, you are less likely to procrastinate. When you see how good you feel and how well your joints respond, you may find it easy to repeat this two, three or four times a day.
1. Determine what’s most important.
2. Pick one single task.
The most effective way to accomplish something is by focusing on one thing alone. If it’s a large project, break it down into smaller components—it is less daunting when you focus on a small task:
• clear one single drawer, not the entire house;
• have one conversation about one issue, not the entire relationship;
• walk around one block, don’t run a marathon.
3. Commit to focusing on that task exclusively for at least ten minutes.
4. Repeat every day.
Ten minutes: one box, one call, one block.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD