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Food For Thought-Clear the Clutter and Begin Anew

January 1, 1998
Related Topics: Time Management, Featured Article
Here's a way to unclutter your agenda so you can make a new beginning this January.

"Keep your mind free of divisions and distinctions. When your mind is detached, simple, quiet, then all things can exist in harmony, and you begin to perceive the subtle truth." —Lao-tzu

It’s difficult to start fresh and focus on the most important undertakings when old projects beckon. Here’s a way to unclutter your agenda so you can make a new beginning this January.

  1. Make a list of all the projects you have started and never completed.
  2. Decide which are really important to you and which aren’t.
  3. Finish them or throw them away.

The object is to get clean with yourself. Get to completion on all of the tasks, big and small, that you’ve left undone. It may be as simple as cleaning out the old files in your desk to writing a completely new manager development plan. The size of the task doesn’t matter. What matters are finishing the "incompletes" that hang over your head creating pressure, usually in an unconscious manner. Spending the time to file, to complete a project or to throw papers away, does wonders for your life. The sense of accomplishment will astound you.

Now you are freer than ever to experience the truth of yourself—what Howard Schechter describes as "your essential self" in the main portion of this column. Clearing up incompletes is like lifting a veil. It allows greater clarity and definition.

Says Valerie Gieseke, HR effectiveness consultant at TRI-AD in Escondido, California: "If my desk has too much junk on it, it stresses me out. I sometimes take an hour or two just to clear it all off, to get rid of the little irritants and then find renewed harmony and energy to focus back on the things that matter."

Workforce, January 1998, Vol. 77, No. 1, p. 126.

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