As I write this, we are approaching another milestone – yes, the New Year has come upon us. However, this is not a typical message about setting new goals, establishing resolutions which most likely will be forgotten by the end of the 1st month or anything of the sort.
Rather, it is a simple message regarding my desire to focus more intently in this New Year. I believe it was Emerson who said, “Where your focus goes, your energy flows.” This is something I desire – to have increased energy – because I know, at least for me, when my energy is flowing smoothly, great things tend to happen. So, according to Emerson’s wisdom, if I want to experience increased energy, I must improve my ability to focus.
I bet this is true for you also, otherwise you may have not taken an interest in reading today’s message to this point.
My friend Ed DeCosta reminded me of the word “declutter” and I believe it is a good message for those of us who want to increase their focus. Decluttering, if that is even a word, can happen in a number of ways and a number of areas in your life. Here are just a few for your consideration (and as a check list for me!)
- Your office environment– Whether you work in an office building, factory, home office, or any other environment, the physical space matters. If you have many items on your desk or workspace, your mind will tend to interrupt your attempts to focus because your peripheral vision will catch something which “needs” attention. A cluttered desk is not the sign of a productive person; it is the sign of a busy, distracted and unfocused person who likely invests time in urgent, but not important items.
- Your calendar– What you allow to take space on your calendar matters. If you have a to-do list, that’s great only if the items on the list are directly connected to the results you desire to achieve. Tasks, meetings and other appointments in and of themselves are meaningless unless they lead to intended outcomes. Careful examination of what you allow to take your time is necessary on a weekly, daily and at times, hourly basis. If much of your work day is planned for you by a boss, there must be some times during your day you can have for yourself. Let your plans drive your action, not the other way around.
- Your relationships– Unfortunately, some of us have toxic relationships in our lives. They can take all types, yet the impact on us is similar, and the impact is generally not positive. Toxic people like to blame anything and anyone outside of themselves for the conditions they experience; they make excuses or play the victim role. Sometimes we can limit our exposure to these relationships while other times they may be close family members. The way to declutter is to predetermine the amount of time you will spend with them and predefine the attitude you will have when hearing their tales of woe.
- Your daily disciplines– “The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” These words have been spoken many times by one of my mentors, John Maxwell and they are so true. He also says, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. Success doesn’t just suddenly happen and for that matter, neither does failure. Each is a process.” Decisions help us to start a change and discipline allows us to excel at the change. We need both, with a strong emphasis on the daily disciplines necessary. Declutter your daily disciplines to the 5-7 which have the greatest compounding effect on you.
- Your self-development– Speaking of change, you are either growing or you are in the process of dying – there is no middle ground or “pause” button in life. You can make a choice to declutter by having a laser focused plan to improve some area of your life – physical or mental health, professional or vocational, spiritual, financial, etc. I recently read “no growth happens without change, no change without sacrifice, and no sacrifice without pain.” Pain in the short term, based on good decisions and daily discipline, will lead to longer term gain.
Would you like to declutter some area(s) of your life? If you haven’t cleaned out your closet, garage, files, kitchen junk drawer, or other parts which tend to get crowded, maybe this is the time to take some action, make a decision and move forward.