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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

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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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