A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

My Nanna (Grandma, Ouma, Yaya, Nonna, Mawmaw – insert name you are most familiar with) was an avid knitter, embroiderer and sewer. And she taught me – with varying degrees of success – to also be able to do those things. They are skills that I still use from time to time and I have such fond memories of those times of learning from her. But I’m not sure the greatest lessons I learned were the skills, I think the greatest lessons she was in fact teaching me were patience, problem solving and planning.  

You see I get feel such a sense of accomplishment when I get results and when I see a finished job. And so, sometimes, I rush in. Like a fool, as the saying goes. And whilst at the start it feels brilliant; like I am mastering the task, it is not long before I find myself faced with a problem, or an error, and more often than not, I realise it is an error I could have avoided.

This week I have had so so many clients, and friends, telling me how overwhelmed they feel. One client actually showed me a photo of a cluttered kitchen counter in her home and said “that is what my head feels like” – I was impressed by the clarity of her analysis – despite her feeling like her head was a jumbled mess! And I must confess that I have also been feeling a lot like that this last week or so and last night, it came to a head in a spur-of-the moment, unexpected and amazingly freeing way; I cleared out my wardrobe.

Now I know this doesn’t exactly sound like mind-blowing, personal development, mindset shifting, coaching kind of information, but just stick with me for a moment if you will. My wardrobe is not a closed cupboard with doors, it is an open one, and you have to walk through it to get to our bathroom. So every day for the last few months I have been starting my day by walking to the bathroom through my jumbled, cluttered wardrobe and thinking to myself  “I really need to organise that.” And the day goes by and I don’t. And then another day goes and another and I’m guessing you get the idea? And so every morning when I am getting ready for the day ahead I have a flustered and frustrating time of rooting around trying to find clothes that are weather appropriate/activity appropriate/meeting appropriate etc etc and it has been making me irritated, or late.

Well last night, as I was walking past my wardrobe mess for the millionth time I was reminded of a phrase that my Nanna used to use often when helping me correct my sewing mistakes; “a stitch in time saves nine.”  And in that moment, even though I had heard the phrase many many times before, I suddenly felt it with with such conviction and I knew exactly what I needed to do. I grabbed a big box from the garage and a bin bag from the kitchen and I set to work.

Within twenty minutes I had pulled out all the rubbish that needed to be binned and all the clothes and shoes that had sat unworn and that I could offer to a new home and then I set to work re-organising and re-folding what remained. And another ten minutes later I stood in the doorway and felt the unmistakable feeling of accomplishment rising in me and peace and calm descending on me.  Thirty minutes, that was all it had taken, just half an hour upfront to put a system in place that saved me almost that same amount of time just this morning.

So, what is my coaching message in this story then? (Thanks for sticking with me!) If you are in the place where you are beginning to feel a bit muddled, or a bit overwhelmed, if it feels like every day is rolling in to the next and you are like the hamster on the wheel just trying to keep the pace going, I want to encourage you to jump out of the chaos and de-clutter. It may feel scary, it may feel like you are going to drop some balls, that you won’t be able to get the momentum back again but I assure you that you will, and in actual fact, you’ll be able to keep a better pace and with greater endurance if you take a moment to plan smarter and strategise more clearly.

What area of your business, life, family, or mind do you need to press pause on and de-clutter? I really want to encourage you to give yourself that time so that you can move forwards with greater energy, confidence and impact.