The Importance of Unpacking

The importance of unpacking

During the past two weeks, we’ve moved our family cross-country — from the Chicago area to Charleston, SC.

Last week, our world was all about packing. Today, the movers arrived and all we have on our mind is unpacking.

In this previous post, I wrote about how clutter (email, desk, etc.) can lead to stress and anxiety. Well, I’m really feeling that today, as we are surrounded by unpacked boxes and crates waiting to be emptied throughout the house.

I know that unpacking and getting these boxes out of our home will reduce my stress level and make my wife and I feel so much more relaxed.

But doesn’t that principle apply to work, as well? Don’t we all have those daily “boxes” that we need to unpack to help us be more productive and less anxious?

I’m talking about all those tasks and projects that build up in your mind throughout the day. Sometimes those tasks make it to your to-do list, but sometimes they sit in your mind, unpacked, contributing to the clutter.

It’s so important that we unpack on a regular basis.

How do I do it?

  • Well, for starters, at the beginning of every week (usually Sunday evening), I “unpack” all the tasks and projects in my head into a master to-do list for the week ahead.  I think through every client and every project, and I write down the tasks I need to accomplish for each.  For the past several months, I’ve been using Google Keep for this universal list, because of its ease of use and its availability on my Android smartphone and tablet.
  • Throughout the week, whenever I have a task that pops into my head — I made sure to unpack it as soon as possible by getting it down in Google Keep in the universal list. By getting it out of my head and in the list, it let’s my brain know that I’ve unpacked it, and that it is in the queue to get acted upon. It’s amazing how much peace of mind you’ll experience simply by getting these tasks out of your head and in to your list.
  • I feel it’s important to only really set out to accomplish 3-4 major tasks each day (trust me, other, less important tasks, client calls, etc. will pop into your day to fill it up). As such, I take three or four of the tasks from the universal list each day to set as my daily priorities.
  • Please note that when I list a task in my to-do or priority list, I make it a very specific task. For example, if the overall project is to write a one-page media proposal for a client — that project involves several tasks.  For example, one task may be emailing one of my ad buyers for rates in a specific market. I bring this up because I used to confuse projects and tasks.  As such, my to-do list would be full of projects that would require the completion of multiple tasks. Be specific and make your tasks what David Allen calls “next actions.”
  • By all means, mark off your tasks as you complete them. A sense of accomplishment always follows the ability to visually see the tasks you’ve completed during the day.

It’s easy  for entrepreneurs to get cluttered minds. The amount of tasks or ideas that come at us in a single day can be overwhelming.

That’s why it’s so important to unpack, get the tasks out of your head and into your list, and focus on priorities from that list every day.

How do you unpack?  Do you have trouble unpacking the tasks and ideas in your head? Please let us know in the comments section!


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