There’s an interesting concept in the world of crime and law enforcement that basically states that when a neighbourhood shows small signs of the law being broken, with things like graffiti and broken windows, then the area is more likely to attract more crime.
This ‘broken window’ theory is built around the idea that people believe these areas to be easier targets for crime because these small acts are being overlooked and not taken care of.
Now, I think we can also apply this concept to our own lives.
When we let small things slip through, almost unnoticed but still always there on the periphery of our lives it’s too easy to let other, bigger things slip through too.
If you’re feeling that everything is slightly out of control in your life, then take a bit of time to look around and find your metaphorical broken windows.
They’re normally quite small tasks that, for one reason or another, you keep putting off.
It might be:
- The pile of washing that you never seem to be on top of
- A stack of paperwork needing to be sorted through and filed away
- A folder full of photos on your computer to be edited and printed out
- That side table covered in clutter
- The bag of old clothes you sorted out but haven’t taken to the charity shop yet
- A piece of clothing that needs a quick repair
None of these jobs are huge.
But they’re also not really urgent, so they get moved to the bottom of the to-do list each day. And then moved to the next day’s list, then the next and so on.
The problem with these jobs is what they come to represent.
We see these things that we can’t seem to manage to get done and feel guilty, defeated almost. We feel that sense of chaos and lack of control because we can’t even get these niggling jobs sorted.
So we lose motivation. We think, if I can’t even clear the clutter off the table, how can I manage all the bigger stuff in my life?
Those broken windows lead to more and more broken things, and a bigger sense of being out of control and overwhelmed.
Make fixing your broken windows a priority.
You can go at it full power and dedicate a whole day, or week if you need to, to getting all those little, niggly tasks ticked off your to-do list.
If that’s not a realistic option then you could try the power hour approach, where for one hour a week you focus solely on these broken windows. It might take you longer to get everything done but that one hour of focus will get you started, get you moving, get you feeling that you’re back in control.
The first step is to grab a pen and a piece of paper and make your list.
Think about all the little jobs you keep saying you’ll get to one day. The small things that bug you but you’ve not got round to dealing with yet.
Then get to work and start fixing those broken windows.