Ways To Declutter Your Life And Reduce Stress
Work causes many people stress and anxiety. There is always something left on the “to-do” list or something that has been forgotten. Occasionally during the year, we experience lulls in work demands.
For many, this occurs around the holidays or after the end of a fiscal year close. Taking the opportunity during those times to declutter your work life can lead to various benefits including a reduction in stress and time savings.
While it may be obvious, the first step to decluttering your worklife is actually removing clutter and unnecessary items from your work space. File the stack of papers, clean up the coffee cups, invest in a couple filing cabinets, make sure electronic cords are out of your way, etc.
There have been studies done that those with cleaner, more organized spaces feel happier and less overwhelmed. Make your office space somewhere you feel you can sit and think instead of wondering where that report got to.
Cleaning up your space also sends a positive message to your colleagues around you. They will see a person who takes pride in their work space and seems to have things together.
If you are still using rolodexes and daily planners, consider making the move to a digital platform. Many people argue that “technology doesn’t agree with them” but really, that is the result of not understanding the technology.
Whether you consider yourself tech savvy or not, utilize the calendar on your email agent, create excel or access databases to track projects, or utilize a cloud based system to share files.
The benefit is that all these pieces of information start becoming more readily available to you whether you are in or out of the office. It also allows you to more easily share information with your co-workers or supervisors when necessary.
If you are ready to take the ultimate step, consider moving all your paper files into digital ones. While the process may be time consuming, the result is quick access to countless pages of documents.
Going digital also serves to protect you. Most companies have backup processes in place to ensure that digitized information cannot be lost, even in the case of a system failure. Can you say the same about your paper planner?
Clean Out Your Email
Have you ever come back from vacation with so many emails to respond to, you did not even know where to start? Unfortunately, many workers keep their inboxes in a constant state of “full”. Going through months or years of emails can be exhausting, so focus on a little bit at a time.
Create folders to organize incoming emails for faster retrieval. After reading an email, mark it with an appropriate alert or reminder so you remember to come back for it.
For all the rest, make sure they stay marked as “read” so the first thing you don’t see upon logging in to email is “476 unread emails”. That is enough to make one shut down their email application immediately.
Most importantly, make sure you set up spam alerts for junk email that comes to you. It’s stressful enough to have an inbox full of relevant emails, but having an inbox full of junk mail creates unnecessary hassle.
When you look at your calendar, are your days filled with meetings which leave you little time for your actual work?
If the answer is yes, reconsider which meetings really require your attendance. This might lead you to having conversations with your supervisor or colleagues about the sheer number of meetings being scheduled in your organization.
If your colleagues are feeling equally overwhelmed with meetings, they will likely be open to your attendance being via phone or only as needed. This may even lead to a larger change within your organization if everyone agrees the number of meetings needs to be reduced.
The goal of reconsidering meetings is to provide you more time during your workday to focus on your workload, rather than everyone else’s.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
Often what makes our work environment so stressful is the expectation or compulsion to juggle everything at the same time. You only do yourself your mental health a disservice by thinking you can focus on multiple projects or deadlines at once.
Practice the art of focusing on getting one thing done (and getting it done well) before you move on to the next issue. Not only will you be surprised at how quickly you check off your to-do list, but you’ll soon come to find out that the next item will wait until you’re ready to tackle it.
Decluttering our work lives should be standard practice a few times a year. This will allow you to continue the habits you’ve picked up and adopt new practices along the way. The ultimate goal is to feel like you can handle the workload you have, even in a stressful environment.