Oswald Letter

Give your 2016 “to do” list a good spring cleaning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Dan Oswald

Spring has sprung. The grass is green. The flowers are blooming. The trees are in full blossom. It’s that time of year again. Time for spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new. At least that’s my wife’s way of thinking. Last weekend, we spent a day cleaning out the garage. At the end, we made one trip to the dump, a second to Goodwill, and another to a consignment store. We had years’ worth of stuff piled up in the garage, and it was time to clear some of it out.

Spring is also a great time to take account of how the year has started. Remember that list of all the things you wanted to accomplish in 2016? Well, it’s time to see how you’re doing. Pull out that list (or better yet, pick it up off your desk), and take a few minutes to review it. How are you doing?

There are certain things on your list you may have already accomplished. We’re a quarter of the way through the year. You might be able to check a few items off your list. If you can, congratulations. It feels good to have accomplished some of your goals.

I’m sure there are other items on that list you’re still working on. Are you making progress on those? Are you as far as you would like to be on all the items on the list? It’s a good time to take account of how you’re doing. Have you made the type of progress necessary to get through your list this year? You still have three quarters of 2016 to accomplish everything you set out to do.

Then there are a few items that shouldn’t be on that list—things that seemed important or were important just a few months ago that now just don’t warrant being on a list of the things you want to accomplish in 2016. Those are the ones I want you to focus on. I want you to do some spring cleaning on your list. I want you to throw out some of those items so you can focus on the ones that really matter.

It’s possible that as the first three months have unfolded, you have added a few things to your list. There are always important things that pop up as time passes. But if you’re adding things to your 2016 “to do” list without taking anything off, you run the danger of having too much to do this year. Your list may have become cluttered.

That’s where the spring cleaning comes in. It’s time to clear the clutter from your list. Consider some of the new items you have added to your list—are they really important enough to make your top priorities for 2016? I’m sure some are. But now it’s time to consider the items that were on your list when the year started but, with the addition of your new priorities, no longer belong.

Cross them off. Get rid of the items that are no longer part of your priorities. Clean up that list. The only way you can focus on the most important items is to rid your list of the things that no longer are priorities. If you don’t, you risk spending valuable time on tasks that just don’t matter that much. It’s like cleaning out the garage. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need so you have room for the things that really matter.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things that at one point you considered a top priority, but things change, and you need to adjust. If, given how things have evolved in the first three months of 2016, your priorities need to change, it’s better to deal with it now while you have enough time. Don’t spend your year focused on yesterday’s priorities. Take account, and make your adjustments so 2016 is a success!