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About Cecilia

I am a Life & Clutter Coach and IST Practitioner. I LOVE helping writers, creatives and entrepreneurs just like YOU, make their homes and lives into supportive containers for their creative AND personal lives.  

Cecilia's sharp, crystalline insight has kept me on track in my creative life, my business life, and my emotional life for the past six years: she's a triple threat!

 - Sarah Selecky, author of Giller Prize nominated This Cake is for the Party

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Tuesday
Jun112013

Unfinished Business - My Clutter Secret

Before I get into this week's topic, which is a must read if you're a procrastinator, I wanted to let you know that my friend Annette Kurtz, a Space Clearer and Clutter Clearing expert is going to be in Toronto this week, June 12-18, 2013.

Annette trained with THE Karen Kingston, author of the book that literally changed my life.  Yes, I'm talking about 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.

She will be seeing clients and giving a FREE talk - "Clear Clutter for a Fresh Start" - this Thursday, June 13th at 7pm in Toronto.  Click here to RSVP for the talk and for more info, I'd love to see you.

In honour of Annette's visit, I thought I would give you a window into my personal clutter clearing process as I prepare for her to space clear my home next Wednesday.  

It's always best to clear clutter before a space clearing and because of that I'm being faced with the fact that I still have quite a bit of clutter to clear.

Sure, I've cleared out my closets and drawers countless times and can honestly say that I love most of the stuff in my house. 

But it's not the physical clutter that I have issues with, I spent years clearing that.  The clutter that is the gum on the bottom of my shoe is the most insidious never ending type of clutter there is.

Karen Kingston calls it Unfinished Business.

I call it the "Oh s**t!" category of clutter.

Unfinished Business includes all those things that you forgot to do, meant to do, want to do, should/could/might/need to do.  And of course all the things you’ve been procrastinating.

All those things around your house and life that make you say:

"Oh s**t, I forgot I have to ______"

"Oh f*** I was supposed to _____"

"Oh fiddlesticks, if I don't _____ I'm going to be in big trouble!" 

It's the email you need to reply to, the craft project you need to finish, the button that needs to be sewn on, the shoes that need to be returned because they didn't fit, the guitar that needs to be sold, the dry cleaning that needs to be dropped off/picked up, the room that needs to be painted, the couch that needs to be recovered, the taxes that need to be filed, etc...etc...etc...

Here are a few examples of unfinished business that I've tackled since I booked my space clearing consultation: 

  • My hall closet had a mattress hanging out of it, wouldn't close, the shoe rack was broken and my beloved Animal vacuum cleaner was relegated to the hallway because there wasn't room for it in the closet.  I took everything out and put it back in such a way that everything fits with some room to spare. Yay!
  • I've replaced all the burnt out light bulbs.
  • I bought herbs and vegetables to grow in my garden

There are however many, many other things on my mental list that may or may not get done before Annette comes so I'm going to go ahead and apply the Three Step process to tackling Unfinished Business and you can too!

Three Steps to Tackle Unfinished Business

Step One - Make a list!

The first thing you want to do is get a sense of what's on your list. 

Often unfinished business isn't on any list which is why it can drive you crazy.  You remember that you have to email your sister in the shower when you can't do anything about it, and forget when you're sitting at your computer.

Take a few minutes RIGHT NOW and brainstorm a list of stuff you want/need/should do.  All those things that make you say "Oh s**t!". 

I'll do it too! 

Here are some of the things on my list:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the moldering morning glory seeds  on the counter (I obviously didn't need them anyway)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought

Step Two - Cross it off BEFORE you do it!

After you've made a list of your unfinished business the first step is to go through the list to see if there's anything you can take off right away. 

Sometimes the best way to deal with unfinished business is to decide that you're not going to do it. 

If you don't want to do it, don't have to do it, feel like you should do it, are not likely to do it, etc...

CROSS IT OFF!

Let me give you an example.  In my last place I got one of those wooden doors with eight glass panes for the front room.

The door came with plastic on the glass so that one could paint the door and not worry about getting it on the glass. 

I intended to paint the door so I left the plastic on the glass and there it stayed for one month, one year, two years... 

Every time someone came over to visit they would say "New door?" and I would say "Yeah, sure.  It's new...ish".

As I prepared for my glorious debut on reality television -- Dinner Party Wars, Season Two, High on the Hog -- and was looking at my house through the camera lens -- scary when you live in an old rental house, you'll see if you watch the episode -- and I took an honest look at that door. 

Was I ever going to paint it?  Did I even want to paint it?  For years, literally years, I had come home every day and said to myself "Oh s**t, I need to paint that door!" and yet everyday was another day that I didn't paint the door. 

I decided to liberate myself from the door and I decided, yes decided that I wasn't ever going to paint it.  I got out my x-acto knife and took the plastic off.  Never again did I come home to that door begging me to paint it.  It was off the list!

So do yourself a favour and cross if off!

Here's what my list looks like after crossing things off:

  • redesign website 
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the moldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday

Note - Redesigning my website has been on the list so long it's making me feel silly and tired.  I'm taking it off and I’ll put it back on only when I have a solid plan to get it done.

Step Two and a Half - No really, CROSS IT OFF!

I can hear you trying to talk yourself into keeping things on the list even though you’re not going to do them.

As they say in Cuddle Party, if you're a maybe say NO. 

If you're not sure you want to do it or not sure when you'll get around to it, take it off the list. 

You can always change your mind later, but taking it off will clear some mental clutter and free up some space in your mind.

This happened with painting the bedroom in my old place.  I'd wanted to paint it for five years but hadn't got around to it so I decided to cross it off the list. 

Having it off my mental "Oh s**t!" list was so liberating that it actually freed me up to paint it. 

I woke up one day and decided I could paint one wall and I did. The next week I painted the other three. 

Here's what my list looks like after really crossing it off:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website
  • update offerings on website
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant the unexpected proliferation morning glories in the garden
  • throw out the mouldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday

Note - I’m not sure when I’ll have time to paint the rest of the house, so I’m going to do myself a solid and take it off the list.

Step Three - Do it or Date it!

Once you've made your list and weeded out the things you don't want to do or aren't going to do, it's time to do it or date it

This means, if it's a small task just do it, and if it's a bigger task choose a specific day and time to do it and put it in your calendar.  

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen suggests that if a task is going to take two minutes or less it will take less time to do it then it will to schedule it.

NOW is the time to go do the smaller things on your list and cross them off.  Yes, right now!  I’ll do mine too. 

If while you're doing it and dating it you come across something that you don't really want to put in your calendar, or that fills you with dread, it's not too late to cross it off.  Seriously, just go for it, you won't regret it.

By doing it or dating it you will let go of massive amounts of mental clutter.  Hooray!

Here's what my list looks like after going through and either doing it or dating it:

  • redesign website
  • update testimonials on website - Monday June 17 12noon-3pm
  • update offerings on website - Monday June 24 12noon - 3pm
  • email Sonja
  • paint apartment (except front room, that's done!)
  • weed or replant morning glories in the garden - Thursday June 13, 10am
  • throw out the mouldering morning glory seeds (I obviously didn't need them)
  • plant the herbs and veggies I bought on Saturday - Thursday June 13, 11am

Note - Emailing Sonja and throwing out the seeds were small tasks so I just went ahead and did them.  The others have been put in my calendar with dates and times. 

~~~~

Wow, I feel so much better after doing that!  It was hard to cross some of the things off that list but I'm relieved to know that I can say no now and always change my mind later.

Remember to celebrate!!  I'm going to celebrate by singing with my choir.

How did it go for you?  Let me know in the comments below and please share this with your friend who is always talking about that door she's going to paint.  ;)

Love,

Cecilia

ox

p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to get on!  All the cool kids are doing it!

p.p.s. If you live in Toronto don't forget to RSVP Annette's talk, Clear Clutter for a Fresh Start this Thursday June 13th at 7pm.  RSVP and find out more here: http://clearclutterfreshstart.eventbrite.ca

p.p.p.s. If you're interested in booking a space clearing or coaching session with Annette you can contact her through her website here. She has a few slots left for this week and will be coming back at the end of the month to see more clients.  I can't wait for her to space clear my place!  Such a beautiful and transformative ritual.

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Reader Comments (3)

Wonderful post! I will work on said list this weekend. :-P

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Thanks Rebecca! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. :)
ox
Cecilia

June 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterCecilia Moorcroft

This is really really helpful..I email myself to do's in a subject line so I can see it all the time...will compile a physical list to check off :)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralex

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