I love building. I love expansion. I love making new things, doing new things.
But that's only one side of the coin. Expansion is fantastic, but you need to consolidate your gains.
Most of the time, you can consolidate a little bit each day. Clean things up, put things away.
But when's the last time you devoted an entire day to consolidation?
I try to do it at least 3 times a month. It's fantastic.
On my time-tracking I've got a question: "What assets could I build/improve/acquire today?" But today, the only reply is - "Consolidation day."
On a consolidation day, clean everything, wash everything, max out your grooming (cut fingernails, toenails, shave, haircut if necessary), mend anything broken that you're going to mend.
Clear out your email, systematize your calendar.
A big one - if you've got something that you keep meaning to do, but haven't started yet - you need some objective measure for when you'll start it or give it up. Having "NEED TO START" notes posted all over your home is not conducive to good work environment. If a project goes three consolidation days without me starting, I usually scrap it and put it in a hold file.
If you're almost done with a book, maybe finish it on a consolidation day. If you've got a bunch of finished books you're not going to re-read and space is at a premium for you, sell/gift them on.
Clean up your computer a little. Physically clean it, but also file things appropriately. Cut down on your email. Be realistic and triage the email you're not going to answer for whatever reason.
Consolidation days aren't sexy, but having 2-4 of them per month really keeps you on track. Sometimes, if you've got a big project looming due in a couple weeks, you might not think you have time to consolidate. Actually, just the opposite is true! If you've got two weeks left and haven't been making progress, it might make a lot of sense to take a day off and clear up all those little nagging things in your life. Get your workspace and home clean, buy new groceries, throw out old groceries that have gone bad, pre-cook a bunch of food, clean up dust, do laundry, file everything, etc, etc.
A solid 5-10 hours of cleanup and clearup while listening to some music or educational programming is pretty fantastic. Your mind is clear afterwards and you're ready to build.
When was your last consolidation day?
This is a brilliant idea! I stumble on this from time to time when I have a low energy day; I simply devote it to maintenance items. But the idea of doing it regularly, more like a GTD weekly review... I can see moving a lot faster on projects in spite of the time lost, just because there aren't a bunch of annoying 'mosquito' tasks buzzing around.
I had an accidental consolidation day on Wednesday, I intended to write to you about it anyway because it tied in to your post last Friday riffing on the same theme of clearing down the essentials, doing the grooming and so on.
I've been crazy busy lately, there are two major projects I'm riding herd on plus a small rack of support issues, they are all huge attention drains and I'm not afraid to admit that it was getting seriously hard to keep up the energy level needed, let alone keep all the balls in the air.
Then, on Wednesday morning, my PC blue screened and rebooted. Came back up and worked for a few minutes, then did it again. It appeared to be a disk read error of some sort so I set it on a full disk check at boot up time and hoped that would sort it out long enough for a replacement disk to arrive (and time to change it and reinstall to become available!)
Instead of feeling like my right arm was cut off, I decided instead to see to the grooming... caught up on all my filing, emptied my physical In Tray, cleared out the trash, tidied the stuff in my cupboard and did all the maintenance my server was overdue for and so on.
The disk check did recover the PC by the end of the working day and the past two days since I've felt much more back in flow again. Thanks to my accidental consolidation time, my big tasks feel like they are more on track again rather than delayed... I'm definitely planning on scheduling more consolidation days (or at least mornings) with the PC off!
Cleaning the house today, as next week I'm back at work and it's also start of semester. It's quite amazing how much I better I function when everything's clean and organised. I'll have to put aside time for it this semester, so I don't have to crack it in 4-6 weeks time and go on a cleaning spree...
It's a rule I have. Every place I spend time should be better because I was there.
Everywhere. A table at Starbucks? I'll wipe it off with a napkin when I sit down, and pick up my mess when I leave.
Be friendly to staff everywhere. Tip great service well. Point out terrible service politely to a manager, because terrible service is bad for everyone (the server, manager, business, and customers are all worse off if terrible service is happening).
Lightly clean any room you go to.
Don't trash a room just because other people are going to clean it.
I started this as a personal growth thing. I don't know, but maybe when I'm thirty or something I'll remember how stupid I was now:
Dear future self:
I'd like to refer to "future me" as "you" and present me as "me" to help keep things clear. I hope you can learn to keep your spaces clean. I'm sorry, but I am disgusting. I know I should clean up after myself but it's so hard to every day when I'm trying to compose and practice and work and everything at once. Anyway, I'm trying really hard to be the best musician. I mean, I guess I could practice more - who couldn't? But hopefully I make you proud.
Juries are next week, and since I never did one, I'm super nervous about performing in front of so many staff. I should practice, but I need a break. If I do anything music and school related I might crash. I'm breaking it up with downloading all my sheet music I got. :)
I hope you can realize that you've come a long way since you began, depending on when you read this. I know things are hard for us but it's hard for everyone. We just have to keep going. Well, I meant to write more to you since I want you to have something to read, but I'm trying to do work. Finals are coming up and I can't fail.