Sprinting through Clutter

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It seems I never have enough time in the day to do everything.  Things start to pile up and as my energy gets lower, I feel really unmotivated to do anything that is not critical.  I can keep going for a while, but eventually I reach my tipping point.  Essentially I find myself unable to move forward without doing the dreaded things, but yet I can’t make myself do it.  Or I’m so exhausted that I only have energy for the essentials.  Yet, I’m expending energy thinking about, and avoiding, all the other things piling up.  groan.

One strategy I developed is to approach the dreaded tasks in short bursts of focused energy, the “sprint”.  I use this method to get through tough work assignments, a lingering to-do list, processing a crowded email inbox, cleaning a dirty kitchen, and getting rid of clutter.  Typically my sprints are from 5 to 20 minutes.  When I’ve completed my designated amount of time, I call it quits and congratulate myself for having accomplished this small feat.  I feel it’s important to be “finished” and sometimes I define that with a time limit.  For example, “clean the kitchen for 10 minutes”.  It likely won’t be fully cleaned after 10 minutes, but I consider it finished for the day.

Usually at the end of the day, when I’m super tired, I like to do a 5-minute clean up challenge for one area of my home.  Dirty dishes are always high on this list.  Or I spend 5 minutes prepping something for the next day (e.g. pick out clothes, pack my bag, get my lunch ready, etc.).

Growing up, I had a best friend who made a point of tidying up for 5 minutes a day.  It wasn’t ever enough to clean up everything, but it was just enough to keep the clutter from reaching her tipping point.

I have also benefitted from the “practicing sprint” with my bassoon.  I’m slowly reaching 10,000 hours in 10-minute increments.  I’ve been practicing in 10-minute sprints for about 20 years.  Ten minutes has always been an achievable amount of time to fit into a busy schedule.  It’s amazing how much one can accomplish with 10-minutes of focused energy.

Whether I’m working on something long term, or just trying to get through the day, I’ve found the sprints to be a good way to get through those dreaded tasks.

4 comments for “Sprinting through Clutter

  1. 7 March 2017 at 09:13

    Agreed, put your shoulder into it and get it done! As they say, the hardest part is getting started.

  2. Anonymous
    7 March 2017 at 10:13

    Very interesting concept – I’ll try it. That may be a better strategy than one that tells you to do the least desirable chores first to get them out of the way. if you do that, you probably don’t get to the more important activities. Thanks for the new strategy.

  3. Marcia Pfeffer
    7 March 2017 at 10:54

    I admire your organization, Lisa. My method is to throw everything out that I don’t think I need at the moment, asd my motto is “DONT REGRET AND DON’ LOOK BACK> I also think you should save for a dishwasher.

    Love
    Your favorite aunt
    (PS. WE ARE COMING TO NEW YORK FOR THE ENTIRE SUMMER

  4. James
    7 March 2017 at 12:00

    Wow, I hate to tell you this Deletelist, but that is old age setting in lol lol. Everyone gets that way. And time becomes more precious as you get older. Who wants to do stuff they don’t like. Critical or not. I myself have found that I do it a task at a time. So if the task takes 1 min or 1 hour it gets done then I take a break. I do have to admit that sometimes the breaks can get out of hand. But I get my tasks done.

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