When it comes to getting things done, hoarding can be a big problem. But this problem can be overcome, if you use your goals properly.
Let me explain…
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The Hoarding Problem
Have you ever wondered why some people become hoarders?
And I’m worried that it might have something to do with parenting.
In fact, I’m worried that I might be inadvertently raising little hoarders myself.
A couple times a week I catch either my five year old or seven year old rummaging through the recycling, looking for pieces of paper, cardboard, and plastic that they can “use” for various projects.
Just the other day, my five year old grabbed an old toilet paper tube out of the recycling bin as I was taking it outside.
“What do you need that for?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But I’m sure I could use it for something,” he replied.
Oh no, I thought. That’s how it starts.
The vision of him, a 40 year old man living all alone surrounded by piles of newspaper clippings and toilet paper rolls, flashed through my mind.
Is this the first sign?
Is there a well meaning parent at the beginning of every hoarder’s origin story—a parent who mistakes the warning signs as markers of childhood creativity?
Am I that parent?
The Hoarder’s Mindset
Now, I realize that I might sound a little insane here. And I’m happy to tell you that, in my saner moments, I’m pretty confident my kids aren’t going to become hoarders.
But I do think my kids sometimes fall victim to the hoarder’s mindset.
In fact, we all fall victim to that mindset from time to time.
Every time you save something you think might be useful “one day,” you fall victim the hoarder’s mindset.
And I’m not just talking about cardboard boxes and old yogurt containers here.
You can collect habits that you think will come in handy “one day.”
You can collect pieces of knowledge and skills that you plan to store away until you need them “one day.”
Or you can collect strategies, plans, and goals you think you will focus on “one day.”
Any time you don’t have an immediate reason for something, you end up storing it.
And, before you know it, your metaphorical garage is filled with metaphorical shoe boxes and lunch kits stuffed with all the things you think you might be able to use “one day.”
Meanwhile, the metaphorical car you actually use every day sits outside in the rain.
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Solution: Use Your Goals
In case that was a little confusing, here’s the point:
A major part of being productive is being able to focus on developing the knowledge, skills, and habits that you will actually use to accomplish your goals.
There are any number of things that could be useful. But, if you want to be productive, you cannot worry about collecting all those things.
Let them go.
Stay narrowly focused on the things that will help get you where you want to go.
But this is only possible if you have clarity about where you want to go.
You need to have clear goals before you can use your goals to guard against the productivity hoarding problem.
When you have clear goals, you can easily evaluate every trick, habit, strategy, or plan before you bring it home and allow it to take up space in your memory.
If you aren’t going to use the thing immediately, you probably aren’t going to use it at all.
If you can’t stay focused on your goals, you’ve already fallen victim to the hoarder’s mindset.
Now, of course, in order to stay focused on the right things, you need to make sure you’ve set the right goals for yourself.
But once you have clarity about what the right goals are for you, you can use your goals to avoid the productivity-sucking trap of hoarding and start actually getting stuff done.