How to Finish What You’ve Started

When working on clearing your clutter, do you hop from pile to pile or room to room without ever completing one task fully? If so, you likely end the day frustrated and feeling like you’ve worked hard with nothing to show for it.

To overcome this scattered approach, I bring you back to my friend, the POM round.

When getting started on and finishing something you’ve been avoiding, Pomodoro rounds are your friend. If we’ve been in each other’s lives for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me mention this tool once or twice (or 10 times) because it’s that powerful!

As a refresher, here’s how POM rounds work:

  • Choose the task you’ll be working on.
  • Estimate how many rounds you’ll be doing. Be realistic as you could be up against tricky items. You’ll want to be able to have time to sit with that so under promise and over deliver.
  • Eliminate any and all distractions (email chimes, phone buzzes, family members interrupting, etc.)
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Get to work and stay the course until the timer goes off.
  • Take a five-minute break.
  • Repeat.

Some important addendums to make the most of your rounds:

  • Scheduled POM rounds are for the chosen task or they are for nothing. If, when you sit down to get started, you want to do anything but the task, you have two choices:
    1. Do the task for 25 minutes.
    2. Sit there and do nothing. And I mean absolutely nothing. Sure, you can close your eyes and breathe but other than that, nothing.
  • Pausing the timer during a round is forbidden. Once the clock starts ticking, stick with it for the full 25 minutes. See them through or they don’t count.
  • The in-between-round breaks are brief — only five minutes so plan accordingly. Stand up and stretch, visit the bathroom, get something to drink. This is not the time to jump on social media or check your email because before you know it, 30 minutes will have passed.

While the structure of the POM round is super effective, there can sometimes be more getting in your way of finishing what you start than the lack of a set window of time. Sometimes the task or project can push some buttons. Maybe it’s making you face things you’d rather avoid like the difficult decision of whether to let go of your child’s first blankie or the come-to-Jesus conversation you need to have with your spouse.

Uncomfortable feelings are part of the process so don’t use them as a reason to throw in the towel. Instead, during the POM round, close your eyes, take a deep breath, or jot down some notes about what’s coming up for you.

If strong feelings are stirring, hold space for them. When this happens, it’s no longer about the stuff, it’s about the emotions. Shift your focus, journal, or simply feel. Then circle back after a week or so and see how it feels then.

I’m using POM rounds right now as I write this letter to you. I have 14 minutes left in my current round, and as tempted as I am to scroll through Instagram, I’m sticking it out because my commitment to you is important; because the commitment to myself is important; and because I need Little Kerri to trust me to do what I say I’m going to do so she’ll feel safe with me as I make bold moves in my life. When she feels safe with me, she doesn’t need to get my attention through clutter.

Removing anything from your life that doesn’t support you and your highest good is a multi-layered process. It’s almost never cut and dry so be prepared for hiccups and bumps along the way. In fact, it’s in those hiccups and bumps where you’ll learn the most about yourself, and that knowledge will help minimize the return of any future clutter.

Now off you go, my fellow Trailblazer. Make space and prosper!

2 replies
  1. Cynthia
    Cynthia says:

    Kerri brings forth something obvious to the objective viewer, but seemingly yet another human introspection fact. All of our physical surroundings reflect our mental states. I have been very neat and organized most of my life. Watching my mother clean house was a big revelation. By 3 pm when kids showed up, she had about 5 things going, none near done. That taught me about distractions, setting goals. I could not be thoughtless one second in my own house chores or found myself going from vacuuming, to entirely more detailed area needing attention. Same with my job, I can only see one thing on my desk that I am working on, otherwise I feel overwhelmed to see so much to do, or I get distracted every time my eye catches a project, worrying or interested in it. It took work, constant prioritizing, and yes, boss overruling intrusions or other.

    And with all this great training, why am I now at 68 a big mess? Illness, pain, have drained my will and energy, until I do not know myself..and guess what, my house looks like my state of mind. I was never relaxed or at peace when my house, office out of order. Now, I have tried to forgive myself for the mess, and not judge myself so to make me even more frustrated. But, I do find, on my better pain days, that I can trick myself into getting things done by just not thinking about it at all, and forcing myself to area physically. Getting started if you will.

    But I cannot even say, “just do 1 hour.” I literally cannot think about it. I have trouble deciding basic things, and how to organize stuff, which so hard as I was so good at prior. So, should I get a helper or splurge on a better system to organize, both?

    I resist help, thinking I am so capable..this pain illness has changed my life, and I think I am still me, but am not.

    I have bought, tossed, rebought more containers than I have shoes. So frustrating…

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Hi Cynthia,
      I’m not sure how this comment snuck past me, but I apologize for not responding sooner. I can imagine how difficult it is to live in such a different way now due to your illness, and I love how you practice being gentle with yourself. It might be worth inviting an organizer in for a consult to see what he or she could do for you. It sounds like you know what you want or need done, you’re simply limited in your physical abilities. Asking for help could be the best thing you can do for yourself. You are deserving and worthy of it!


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