Decisions Move the World

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Diving board I write a lot about decision making. So much of clutter and other stuff that's in your way is the result of not making decisions about it. The pile of needed decisions keeps growing till you just get overwhelmed by it and then the simplest decision seems strenuous. That naturally induces procrastination.

Why decide? Here's why:

  • When you don't decide, others do it for you. Are they going to pick the choice you want? Uh-uh.
  • The longer you wait to decide, the more likely your desired option(s) will expire or otherwise go away
  • When you avoid deciding to keep your options open, you still don't have that thing you want. You just have the option to have it. Would you rather have the daydream or the real thing?
  • When you boldly make decisions, you stir up positive energy. You take action. You move. You pull it off.

Decision making is a skill you can learn. I'm almost ready to publish my new info program about decision making and habit building, where I teach you both those vital skills. So, stay tuned, or drop me a line in the comments. What can I help you with today?

Diving board from vauvau's photostream.

Idea > Decision > Action

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For many people, it’s easier and more fun to think up new ideas than to take action on the ones they already thought of. Buckling down and focusing on one idea and making it happen can make them antsy.

Sometimes the project you take on is very large and there are so many things to address that you’re tempted to start them all at once. When it comes to organizing, this can get you into trouble.

The process is this: have an idea, make a decision, take the action.

For example, the idea could be “organize the bottom shelf,” the decision is “only have notebooks, pads and file folders there,” and the action is getting those items into the spot and finding other homes for anything that doesn’t fit those categories.

Here’s what happens when you leave off the action part.

My client, Annie,* is a big picture kind of gal. She’s very good with coming up with ideas and making decisions. The action part, not so much. She’d rather move on to the top shelf, or the counter above the shelves, or the table on the other side of the room.

She had numerous shopping bags with things sorted into them. Some of them were marked, some not. There were also piles and collections of items on which decisions had been made. This is definitely progress, but it’s not enough.

We needed to spend some time moving the physical stuff around.

For Annie, this was the tedious, low priority part. But not doing it was impeding our progress. It was like having puzzle pieces all over the floor and knowing exactly where each one went, but not assembling them into a completed picture.

Is this a sticking point for you? Look around and see if you’ve collected some piles of decisions that need a nudge to get to the next step. If taking the action seems dreary and monotonous, approach it like washing the dishes. It’s a chore that needs doing and you don’t really need to like it.

The good news is that you’ll stir up some good energy by moving things along. You’ll also see some inspiring progress when you see the results of all that decision making!

* Not her real name. In fact, whenever I write about my clients, I’m usually combining events and compositing people.

Tip for Purging Email

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Dump truck I admit it, there are tons of unattended to emails in my inbox. The vast majority of it is reading. I'll probably never get to it, but I don't mind it being there. The rest is threads about events or plans that needed some back and forth before getting resolved.

Just going backwards in time is a slow and unappealing way to find emails to delete. Sorting your email by subject first and then by sender will give you two distinct sets of emails that will already be grouped in nice, tossable chunks. You'll get all the emails about the long passed "January 10 meeting" or all the ones from Ellen Campbell. 

If I do start getting rid of my "to read" emails, I can easily sort those by sender too and decide to dump all but the most recent few months, in hopes that I might actually spend time reading them.

Lots of people love email folders but I don't. I use a few for archiving (i.e., things I may never look at again but it there's a slight chance I will) and that's it. When I tried using folders, I'd forget for long periods of time that they existed, and happily got along without them.

How do you decide what to unload from your email inbox? What about folders? Yea or nay?

Dump truck from @cdharrison's photostream

Warm and cozy piles

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What’s in that pile? Paper, sure, but also bits of your psyche.

Identities that you aspire to. Ones that you want to let go of. Ones that keep following you anyway. There are bits that make you feel guilty or scared or intimidated or just tired. Also; wishes, dreams, hopes and big plans for the future. Powerful paper.

I know I give a lot of advice about piles that doesn’t address this issue at all. So, let me rectify that. When clients ask me how long it will take to organize their office, I say that it depends a lot on how fast they make decisions. Making decisions about paper is the most time consuming simply because a 1/2 inch pile can harbor 40 different decisions to be made.

Decision making is time consuming because of all that stuff in the first paragraph. There’s a layer of pile junk that can be skimmed right off, but the rest needs more attention, more thought, more compassion and sometimes more forgiveness.

I got some inspiration for dealing with my own piles reading Havi’s post about Depiling. If I think of my piles as being warm, cozy nooks for the paper to nap in till I’m ready for it, I feel much more kindhearted toward them, and toward myself.