Have you ever stopped to think about the things in your life that you are tolerating? You know, those people, places, things or situations that you feel like you just have to “put up with,” or “make the best out of.” I know I have. These can be something outside ourselves but just as often they can come from within. For sure there are times when life is going to hand us something that we need to adjust to or accept. Lots of what goes on, though, may be draining us without our even realizing it.
One day I was working in my home office and had had a particularly hectic day. I had multiple projects to work on and, feeling rushed, kept piling papers, notes and files on top of my desk. When I sat down to try to concentrate and looked at the mound on my desk, I felt immediately uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. I normally try to keep some semblance of outward order and this was anything but orderly. It was a mess, and I didn’t know where to start. The first thing I had to do was sort through everything I had accumulated and put things into some kind of intelligible order. Then I could function. I’ve know people who seem to thrive on having “stuff” everywhere in their workspace, but I’m not one of them. Being disorganized, feeling disorganized, is a big energy drain for me. So is a cluttered space.
Tolerations in our daily life are mentally and emotionally draining. It can be something as simple as a faucet drip that you keep “meaning to get fixed.” Every time you have that thought you expend mental energy and focus that builds over time. Multiply that by the many seemingly small things that go on throughout the course of a day – the phone call you keep meaning to make, your overfull inbox, or a conversation you’re avoiding – and you have an accumulation of drains on your energy. Eliminating those things we are tolerating can restore much needed clarity and help us to move forward with renewed focus. And the good news is that most of these tolerations can be addressed by: first, becoming aware of them, and second, deciding to take action to eliminate them.
Here are a few more examples of tolerations that take up time and energy:
- A messy car or workspace;
- Clothes that need mending or a new button;
- Clutter anywhere;
- Clothes that we hold onto that we haven’t worn in years;
- Home repairs that we keep putting off;
- Doctor or dental appointments that we need to make;
- Loose papers or records that need to be filed away;
- Not paying bills on time;
- A difficult conversation we’re avoiding;
- A consistently problematic relationship;
- An errand we keep postponing.
I’m sure you can think of your own examples. The point is to eliminate those small irritations that take up our mental and emotional space, those “to-do’s” that sometimes hang over our heads for weeks or even months.
The antidote is action. You can begin with identifying what you keep either keep putting off, or are flat-out avoiding. Just put them on paper. Writing things down is in itself a step towards clarity and constructive action. Next, look at your list and decide what action needs to be taken on each one. Decide which one you are going to tackle first and then go for it. You may want to start with the one that feels the most difficult and just get it out of the way. You can tackle something that feels relatively simple and build momentum from there. Either way, once you get into action, keep going until you have gone through and eliminated everything you have been procrastinating on. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you. Clearing out clutter from a spare bedroom will take longer than making an appointment to have the carpet cleaned. The point is to take action. It may be helpful to enlist a friend or a mentor’s help, someone to be accountable to. (By next Friday, I will organize my (fill in the blank.)
Your payoff? More energy to focus on what’s really important to you, more satisfaction and order, and less frustration. It all adds up to more time for your life!