Eliminating "Incompletes and Irritants"

When I talked about my word of the year, I briefly talked about how cleaning up my "Incompletes and Irritants" has made an impact on me.  In this post, I want to tell you about how this works.

There are many incompletes and irritants in our lives that we just deal with.  

Even when I feel like I've made an exhaustive list of the things that fall in these categories, I always stumble upon more.  To highlight the differences in these two categories, let's talk about them separately.

Starting with incompletes, these things are fairly obvious, but there are some incompletes that are just so old that you've nearly forgotten that they exist.  Let's take a couple examples from my life.  One incomplete that I've almost forgotten about is the project I gave myself to sew up my daughters crib sheets into useable blankets.  These sheets are sitting on my sewing table and every time I walk past them, I feel a tug in the pit of my stomach and the feeling of "oh, there's another thing I need to do..."  This brings me down, but since there's nothing waiting on them to be done and there's no deadline, they just sit there, bothering me.

Another example of an incomplete in my life are passports for the family.  We have international travel plans in April.  The tickets are purchased, the hotel is booked, our passports are expired.  Unlike the crib sheets, this one sends a minor pang of panic down my core.  This has to get done and whenever I think about, it completely pulls my attention.  

Irritants, on the other hand, aren't things that have a beginning, middle, and end.  It's just something that needs to be taken care of and until it is taken care of, it's irritating.  This could be a light bulb that's out.  A dirty microwave.  A scuff on the wall.  They are simple, irritating things, not projects.

The common thread between the incompletes and the irritants is that they pull your attention.

Whatever you're doing, however productive, whatever positivity high you're on, when you come across these incompletes or irritants, they don't lift you higher, they pull you down.  They remind you of something you need to do or give you a feeling of, "Ugh! That's so annoying!".

Why do we deal with these things?  Truly?  If it's a light bulb that's burnt out, it takes 2 minutes to change.  If it's a project that you need to finish it, why not schedule it in and get it done?

The reason we let these things go is because we don't realize what they're costing us.

Since there's no deadline on a light bulb, we put it off.  We're too tired.  We have to work.  The kid is screaming.  America's Next Top Model is on.  (No? Just me?)

But here's the cost:  These incompletes and irritants take our attention, however minor, away from focusing on building the life we want to live.  If you're dreaming of a spotless mansion on a hill while you're brushing your teeth and your sink is clogged, you're not putting out a high vibe.  Your attention is fixed on what is broken right now, not on the mansion you're working towards.  The incompletes and irritants keep you from believing that your better life is out there, waiting for you because they drag you into thinking about what is wrong with the present.

You can't focus on two things at once and it is nearly inevitable that you'll focus on what is wrong when you come across these incompletes and irritants instead of focusing on what you're working towards.

So, walk around your house.  Make a list of every incomplete project and every irritating thing.  Make it a goal to eliminate all of these things and when a new one pops up, dangit, another freaking light bulb! Just do something about it!  Don't let it steal your attention and thus, your future.