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Is Your Office Space Stressing You Out? Here are 5 Tips to Declutter And Destress

Is Your Office Space Stressing You Out? Here are 5 Tips to Declutter And Destress
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A recent survey found that as many as 8 in 10 Americans are stressed out about their jobs. That means, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your work is causing you stress.

But why is work so stressful? For a lot of people, just the idea of going to the office causes angst. In fact, as many as 78% of people get Sunday night anxiety about going to work on Monday. The problem could be the office space itself. It could be that it’s too small, too cluttered, and too loud. This may not sound like much, but for many, this can be the root cause of workplace stress. Studies have shown that your environment affects your mood and your health, so creating the a positive office environment might be the key to getting rid of some of your stress.

If your office space is stressing you out, try out these 5 ideas and see if you can’t transform your environment (and your mood) for the better:

1. Declutter your desk

You may have heard the old Einsteinism, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

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Proponents of this way of thinking will often tell you that people with messy desks are more creative. This may be true, but it’s good to remember that they’re not creative because of their messy desks, it’s just that creative people tend to be disorganized. Messy people also tend to be more stressed than they appear. Maybe that’s why, in her book, “The LIfe-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo says that “visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.” So organize your desk! How you do so is up to you—it’s the thought that counts. People with organized desks are often:

  • Less likely to commit a crime
  • Less likely to litter
  • More likely to show generosity
  • More likely to give to charity

The above traits are all associated with happy, unstressed people.

2. Get organized online

No one likes working with a control freak, but maintaining a level of control in your life (and in your office) matters to your mental health. Even small degrees of control, especially in chaotic office environments, can make all the difference in lowering stress.

This is also true for digital spaces. Try to find a place for everything you use online and use software that helps you stay organized. This may sound obvious, but so many people function with disorganized file folders and inefficient routines. This will help you develop better digital habits that make things more streamlined in future.

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In addition, organizing your day the night before (with calendars and blocks of time), can help you break things down into digestible chunks that are less intimidating.

You might even end up saving yourself a lot of time. The 40-hour work week is a relic. People are working an extra 7 hours a week on average, with nearly 1 in 5 working over 60 hours a week. A little more organization could go a long way towards a shorter work day.

3. Don’t rely on caffeine

Offices promote some very unhealthy behavior in Americans. Bad posture and bad vision are often the easiest to identify, but few people point out one of the greatest offenders: the coffee pot.

On average, Americans drink 3.1 cups of coffee a day. That’s quite a lot of caffeine. While we all need a burst of energy sometimes, but coffee might not be the best place to get it. Studies show that caffeine from coffee lasts longer than we thought and can be a leading cause of compounding stress. So the more trips you make to the coffee machine, the more stress builds up inside. It’s worth exploring options that keep your body and brain decluttered. If you’re suffering from a lack of energy, your problem might just be a lack of vitamin D.

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4. Schedule out-of-office time

Taking breaks for your brain is good. When you take a break, you deactivate your brain. When you return, you activate it. This back and forth allows you to refocus your goals and not overthink anything.

Studies have also shown that people who give themselves time for a 30-minute walking break from work were generally more enthusiastic and relaxed while being less stressed. And you shouldn’t just take small breaks, either—4 in 10 americans don’t take their full vacation time. This is a big mistake. Take your vacations. They’re good for you!

5. Find a quiet space

For focused, highly productive work—it’s best to find a quiet space to think. But that can be difficult when 70% of companies feature an open-floor plan. This can lead to a lot of stress. In this digital age of hyper-productivity, we require quite, relaxed spaces without distractions to think and function. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of every quiet space you can around the office. Otherwise, the overwhelming white noise might just drown you out your thoughts.

But those spaces may not be in your office, or even in the same building. If that’s the case, you might think about taking “off-sites” once in awhile. A change of scenery can be the best way to boost your productivity.

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Moving on, without stress

Your environment matters. Whether it’s a cluttered desk, a noisy office, or just antsy, caffeine-addicted coworkers that can’t stop watching YouTube videos, our office environment greatly impacts our work productivity.

The secret to staying decluttered and destressed is to recognize the impact that clutter and stress has on you, take positive steps to reduce that impact. This will help you live as healthy and stress-free a life as possible.

Featured photo credit: https://picjumbo.com/ via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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