Marie Kondo, the bestselling clutter-clearer famous for suggesting we rid our homes of any item that doesn’t “spark joy”, has a lot to answer for. It seems that everywhere I look these days someone else is proudly displaying a snap of their clutter-free office, or marvelling at the feel-good factor that comes from folding your knickers.
And I get it. There’s something irresistible about the concept of an environment filled with only the things that bring you joy. In fact, the same principle could well be applied to almost any area of our lives.
(OK, taxes still need to be paid, the laundry still needs to be done and car insurance doesn’t sort itself out… but you get the picture.)
But there’s something else at play when we feel that sense of unstoppable energy, having finally tackled the Kitchen Drawer of Doom.
When I see the difference having a really good tidy up makes – whether of overflowing kitchen surfaces or underwear drawers – it reminds me of an incredibly powerful exercise we share in the BeFruitful course.
It’s a way to revitalise your motivation and kickstart all sorts of projects. It can make you feel more creative, calmer, less overwhelmed and more energised to tackle the things you really want to.
And it all starts with a ten-minute exercise you can do at any time.
Here’s how it works: You set a timer for ten minutes, and in those ten minutes you have one mission: Finish something.
Finish what, Jo?
- Send the email that’s been sitting in Drafts for a week
- Post the thank you note you haven’t got round to sending
- Sew the missing button back on the favourite shirt that’s been gathering dust
- Tell your assistant to cancel the meeting you know you’re not going to make
- Pair some socks
- Water your houseplants
- Fix a date for your next catch up with your bestie
…yes, you guessed it, even fold your knickers.
Whatever floats your boat, my darling!
Because here’s the thing. In my experience – and that of many, many women who’ve used this technique to great effect, finishing things, however small, creates MOMENTUM.
And the energy it creates – the satisfaction, the sense of achievement, the relief of actually crossing something off your list – can propel you forward with the tasks that really DO matter.
So whilst for lots of us an ordered environment can help us feel clearer and more positive, I wonder if part of the magic of tidying up is really about the simple act of completing a task.
What your underwear drawer tells me about your time management skills
Whether you’re more of a “stuff it all in and forget about it” or “meticulously iron and fold every item” woman doesn’t matter. Is your underwear drawer – or your desk, or your kitchen table – in a state of “completion”, or something you’re going to get round to at some point?
What’s important when it comes to effectively managing your time is how much momentum you have when it comes to completing tasks.
Because the more things you have unfinished, the more energy you expend mentally “holding” all of those to-do’s, deciding whether or not to do them, feeling guilty over not doing them, feeling guilty for feeling guilty over such a mundane task… you get the picture.
Productivity guru David Allen refers to these unfinished jobs as “open loops” and they can really sap your executive function over time.
So have a quick think now. Are there a bunch of tasks in your world that could probably be finished off in ten minutes – and that might free up some energy to get you moving on the really big stuff in your life?
I’d love to know. And if you’ve got your own ten-minute procrastination buster to share, let us know in the comments!
From your smalls to the bigger picture
One thing is certain. You’re here to have a bigger impact on the world than crossing things off the endless list, clearing up crap and keeping chaos at bay.
But you’ll never make the difference you’re capable of if you’re flat out and overwhelmed – whether it’s emails, clutter, or family drama that’s draining your time.
Getting into momentum is one piece of the puzzle. The real key to managing your time is changing the way you look at productivity.
If you’d like to find out more about our unique approach, check out our free training. It’s called From Frantic to Fruitful: Time and Energy Secrets of Really Effective Women.
You can register for this free online workshop by clicking here.
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