Things left undone can be exhausting. We may feel like we are setting them to the side so we can focus on other more important things. But this "less important" stuff still interferes with the things that are important to us now. There's a part of us that knows something is undone, no matter how deep or far we bury it. It takes a lot of effort to not think about something.
I was recently working with a client in her home office. She set up a separate file drawer for every project that needed to be take care of. There were about 14 drawers. Two of the drawers were for her jobs. She considered these the main priorities. She rarely got the chance to interact with the other drawers. When she talked about the neglected drawers, she sounded so tired. Weariness is a red flag. I follow it when I'm clutter busting.
I asked her about one of the neglected drawers. It had to do with taking care of her late mother's estate. My client had taken on the responsibility herself because her siblings weren't going to. But she hadn't done anything with it for seven years. She felt she could ignore the estate stuff for a lot longer because otherwise it would take time away from her business. I asked her how long it would take to finish. She said a week if she did nothing else. But she said she couldn't afford to do that to her business.
I said that when she talked about the estate stuff she felt like a hallow shell. This meant that it was constantly tapping her. Maybe it wasn't a lot each day, but seven years of being drained is significant. It diminished her ability to work with her jobs, her connection with her family, and her general overall health. She probably got used to be drained so it didn't stand out for her like it was for me. But the evidence was there. Then there was the additional drainage from the other eleven ignored projects. It was amazing there was enough left of her to get out of bed in the morning.
She saw how she had tried to push through the exhaustion from the side-project distractions by overcompensating her efforts with her business, and that it was taking a toll. She decided to take a chunk of time each week towards completing the estate work. Then she would move on to the next side project. And when that was done, the next. She looked and felt stronger with her decision.