In the early stages of my coaching relationships with several physician entrepreneur wanna-be's, these clients have realized that they had some basics to attend to before considering opening for business. Yes, - they may have had the good idea, and even the business plan, but they were NOT READY.
They have not cleared enough physical and mental space to get to work. They need to clean house!
I wrote an article for my Oya Consulting newsletter a couple of years ago, and it bears repeating and expanding, as it addresses exactly what first steps my clients realized they need to take.
Think of all the little things that sidetrack you from time to time during the day. Disorder on your bookshelves, clutter on your desk, too much “stuff’ in your closets, items you spend time hunting down, half-finished projects or books, incomplete tasks, broken household appliances, leaky faucets, unfulfilling relationships, to name a few.
It is difficult to maintain a clear focus on your goals when your energy is pulled away by distractions. There is a lot of truth to the expression: A cluttered environment = a cluttered mind.
Here is how the "cleaning house" process works:
- List the items in your personal and business lives you want to 1. clear out, 2. clean up, 3. complete or 4. delete.
When I coach my clients, I ask them to make “Walk the Talk” lists of all the stuff they have been promising themselves they'll do. They then categorize each item into one of the above four categories.
Now, coaching isn't about making unnecessary busy work for already-overloaded people, so there is a modifier to this request: if they can handle the item once and for all BEFORE putting it on the list, they are asked do that instead of creating extra work to add it to one of the lists.
- Make a list of what you want to clean, clear, complete and delete in your personal life over the next month
- Make a list of what you want to clean, clear, complete and delete in your job or business life over the next month
- Block specific times on your calendar that are devoted to accomplishing these tasks
- Find ways to make the chore as pleasant as possible - play music, sip a glass of wine or a mug of tea, tune in to a favorite radio station
- Get started right away
- Aim for “Relief!” – that feeling you get of a burden being lifted from you, as the task lists get shorter. This enables you later to turn your energies to creating “Joy!”, which comes from tackling and completing the goals that excite you.
A physician client of mine who completed this exercise was amazed to discover an unopened life insurance policy she had forgotten she had purchased, and she realized that her net worth was way higher than she had appreciated once she finished the assignment to organize ALL her financial documents before meeting with the financial advisor she had committed to contacting.
After a huge cleanup, another physician client was able to donate 24 bags of unused clothes and household items to a shelter, realizing a tax deduction of over $900, that the shelter itemized for her!
Now, if this seems like an insurmountable task, given your burdened schedule, there are wonderful skilled people who will come into your home, and create order and workable systems out of your worst messes. Imagine being able to turn over your littered study and desk, your jumbled closets and even your overflowing computer and e-mail inbox to someone who can make order from chaos. These hard-working angels are called professional organizers - to find one near you and learn more about how they work, go to NAPO.
My final tip for anyone hell-bent on getting some control in their lives - invest in a collection of plastic storage boxes from stores like Target or the Container Store and then go out and buy a label maker. My second favorite gizmo for personal and professional effectiveness (see my first) is my Brother Label Maker!
Do you have any stories to share about your "cleaning house" efforts?