Clear The Decks

Before you took your holidays this year it is likely you spent time tidying things up in preparation for being away – completing unfinished tasks, catching up with correspondence and outstanding emails, arranging delegation where necessary, making decisions about what could wait and so on. If you did you will have experienced that feeling of freedom and clarity as you left the office.

That’s the feeling of a tidy mind, unfettered by unfinished business. If you did you will have enjoyed your holiday more. If you didn’t, your conscience will have kept reminding you of things you ought to have done  - you may even have called in just to check, or logged on to check your work emails. 

Loose ends clutter the mind. You may be able to put them out of your conscious mind temporarily, but they’re still there unconsciously. It’s not the fault of your brain – it is after all a faithful machine – it keeps things going until they’re filed or finished or in some sense completed. Research is showing that a part of the purpose of dreams is to ‘file’ away completed tasks and experiences. That’s why unresolved issues in a person’s life can lead to recurring dreams.

The other aspect is that you can only give something 100% attention if you’re actually clear in your mind to do so. The conscious mind is easily distracted, either by external stimulus or from unconscious interference. We all know it’s hard it can be to concentrate in a noisy environment, of if there is something else on out minds.

If you take the trouble to clear the decks ready to go on holiday, how about taking the trouble to do so every week, or even every day. The optimum approach is to have a “close down” process at the end of a working day, telling yourself what’s been accomplished, what is left incomplete and what can be deferred.  Even when you have tasks and responsibilities that run over many days or weeks, you can still define partial completions and progress made.


To contact Nick Woodeson, please email him at