Taping Off

I’m in the process of painting a room in my apartment, which is long overdue. There are a few walls that are still in their “original” condition and haven’t been touched in more than a decade. As opposed to many of my friends & colleagues, I really enjoy painting. And one of the steps I enjoy most, beyond looking at the finished walls, is the process of taping off all of the trim.

It can be a really tedious process and I was almost tempted to skip a big portion of it when I started today. I quickly put that thought out of my mind and decided to focus and not take any shortcuts. At the end of today, I’m really glad I made that decision – it made so much of the painting process go smoothly.

When I tape off portions of the trim like the baseboards & electrical outlets, I’m protecting & marking off territory that I don’t want to affect or to intrude while I’m painting. In a sense, I’m putting up “guard rails” that can help me stay focused on what I want to paint and what I want to avoid cleaning up. It’s not like I’m making the process of painting foolproof or not challenging. These sections that are taped off allow me to focus on the details and push my level of performance so that I can paint freehand without a straightedge or guide.

There’s still a second coat to apply tomorrow, but in the meantime I wanted to explore the concept of “taping off” and see how it can apply to more than just painting.

When I embark on a painting project, I always make time for taping off. But in other areas of my life, I’m only now becoming more aware of the benefits of putting up some of these metaphorical “guard rails”.

For example, in my work life I’m now much more aware of previous negative self-beliefs I had about my own abilities. I’m also more aware of my own perceptions especially as it applies to other peoples’ opinions. In a way, I “tape off” this negative self-dialogue so that I can focus on the task at hand and do the best I can without being distracted.

I’ve read a few books that discuss belief & empowerment and several of them make the somewhat surprising statement about how the people who care about you the most can sometimes give you feedback that can instead make you doubt your choices or actions. They mean the best – they just don’t want to see us get hurt or disappointed.

I have encountered this in my life and it’s taken me a fair bit of time to become comfortable with not listening to that feedback. Sometimes if I’m embarking on a new venture or doing something that might seem risky to them, I now “tape off” these people (with love, though) so that I can continue on my journey of growth. I’m not shutting them out, but I do keep their doubts at bay while I’m still in the formative stages of my journey. If I listen to that too intently, then it will be easier to talk myself out of it.

The way I structure my work day, I attempt to “tape off” certain tasks & processes that would otherwise distract me. These are things that really don’t require my full attention, and it’s a great opportunity to delegate some of these tasks to other team members. It can be an opportunity for them to grow as well.

Taping things off allows me to focus on the work that I’m doing. It gives me the clarity to not worry about these other things that could distract me, or cause me to doubt myself or procrastinate. It’s second-nature to me whenever I start a painting project, but I’ll now keep an eye out for more opportunities to use this concept in other areas of my life. What are some things that you could “tape off” in your life?

Thank you for the time you’ve taken to read this article and I hope it has resonated with you in some way.

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