Have some tasks made a home on your to do list? Do you have projects at home or work that are unsettled and undone? Do you have things you’ve have been putting off that are just lingering. In life coaching terminology, we call these “loose ends”, “unfinished business”, or “mental clutter”. You might be surprised at how much of your energy these loose ends drain from your life. But this does not have to be the case.
Recently I washed both of our family cars that were covered in muck from a Wichita winter. I had been putting off this task for several weeks because I knew it would take a great deal of my time. By putting off this task, I was carrying around some unfinished business. This task took roughly 4 hours of hard work on a Saturday. When I was done, I was energized.
Here are 3 steps to eliminating mental clutter. Print off this article and use it as a worksheet.
1. Tie Up Your Loose Ends.
Make a list of 10 things, both big and small, where you need closure. What’s incomplete and unfinished in any area of your life (e.g. finances, health, family, work, friendships, etc.) The life wheel is a great tool to help you identify your loose ends in different areas.
What do you notice about the loose ends in your life? Are they concentrated in one or two areas? Does this give you an idea of where in your life you need to invest more energy?.
2. Finish Unfinished Business Through Elimination, Delegation & Determination.
Analyzing your list you might realize an item isn’t essential and can be eliminated completely. Maybe you can pay someone to complete that project you’ve been putting off. Maybe you can get intensely focused and work on a project diligently until completion. Finishing unfinished business, for some of my clients, has meant choosing to get over something from the past (e.g. divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, trauma, etc.). For others, it’s meant having courageous conversations with someone they love. Write down your answers to the following questions.
What 2 loose ends will you eliminate this week?
List 2 unfinished items will you delegate this week?
What 2 loose ends will you complete over the next 2 weeks?
3. Say “No” Graciously to Others & Yourself
When it comes to mental clutter, it’s crucial to not say “yes” to projects and tasks when you should be saying “no”. Don’t add things to your list that belong on somebody else’s list. Trouble saying “no” often comes from co-dependent and enabling tendencies. Don’t let yourself feel guilty and take responsibility for things that ultimately are not your responsibility. Focusing on your goals, life purpose, and core values helps filter out the good so that we can say “yes” to the best.
List 4 situations, tasks, or people in your life where saying “no” tends to be a challenge. (I have a tough time saying no to cookies & cream ice cream from Braums)
Do you see any themes related to where you struggle to say “no”. Do they fall into certain areas of your life wheel?
Tying up these loose ends will keep mental clutter from sapping your energy. You will be amazed at how making this a habit will enhance your life. You will experience the satisfaction of knowing you’re getting the most important tasks completed. You might even sleep better tonight. Start today.