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8 Ways To Declutter Your Life

8 Ways To Declutter Your Life

We all know that life can be quite hectic and out of control. Drama and complications come from the lack of control over our lives. I assure you, some of them can be easily controlled and eliminated if you try out these easy tips. So, let’s get to it! (Yes, minimizing complications already.)

1. Know your priorities

People get distracted and procrastinate; it’s part of being human, but when is it too much and too late? At work or school, remember to keep your attention on the assignments at hand. Any urgent tasks should be dealt with immediately and not be put off.

Focus on what needs to be done right now and choose to do the things that would make the most difference. After you have accomplished that, ask yourself what other areas need the most of your time.

What haven’t you been doing that you know you should do? Knowing what you need to do first will give you a sense of control over your life, and thus, less drama. If you have time, here is some further reading if you need more help getting to know your priorities.

2. Keep a well-organized schedule

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    If you don’t already keep a schedule, then go right now and make one! Having a well-organized schedule will make your life so much easier. Whether you like old-fashion calendars or mobile apps, the act of keeping track of future events will dramatically decrease the likelihood of complications.

    Once you start a schedule, you can conveniently see what is planned for the future and not be overwhelmed by upcoming events because you have had time to prepare yourself for them.

    The perks of an organized schedule do not stop here. You can also look back at how you spent your time and improve your time management skills.

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    Perhaps some meetings could have been completed in an hour. Perhaps you are spending too little time with the people you care about and spending too much time at work. Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” What do you want your life schedule to look like?

    3. Keep a list, any list

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      As mentioned before, knowing your priorities will be helpful in decluttering your life. Like any grocery list, you put down things you want to do in the future so you won’t forget. A nicely arranged list will provide you with a visual cue to prioritize your day.

      Check out this list of good list-keeping apps! Choose one that has sharing capabilities so you can share your lists with friends, family and significant other: it certainly makes things easier when you go shopping!

      If you already keep lists, decide on three most important tasks to do in the morning every day. This way, you know exactly what needs to be done that day, and completing them will give you a sense of accomplishment! I personally love the moment I tick-off something on my to-do list!

      4. Make shortcuts for everything

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        Another way to make your life simpler is by setting up shortcuts for everything you do. These shortcuts encompass areas like work, school and everyday life. Depending on the kind of software you use most frequently, you can look up faster ways to do the same thing.

        For Windows 8 users, here is a great list of shortcuts you probably aren’t already familiar with. We use computers for the majority of our day, and by knowing how to do the same thing with the least amount of time, we can definitely accomplish more.

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        Does your job include answering emails and doing repetitive tasks? It might make your life so much easier if you establish canned responses.

        A shortcut I personally love to follow is especially handy when I have piles of work to read through. This is what I would like to call “The NV” reading method: when I need to read something really quickly, I only pick up the nouns and the verbs of the paragraph.

        Once you get used to reading like this, your brain will be able to read papers much faster as it is now trained to piece words together.

        5. Have good routines

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          In order to feel like you have control over your life, routines are one of the best ways to go about decluttering it. The ideology behind routines is that patterns make people feel safe and comfortable – everything is going exactly as planned.

          When you follow a set of patterns, it feels like nothing will go out of hand. My friend suggested a nice routine for lunches during weekdays, so that you can save time on decisions with “guaranteed results.”

          For instance, you can have Fancy Mondays to blow away the Monday blues, Taco Tuesdays, and/or Espresso Fridays to power through the last day of the week. And once routines get too boring, just throw in something you don’t usually do to bring in some unusual and surprising new flavours.

          6. Limit your social media usage

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            A lot of our everyday drama comes from social media. People often compare their own lives to their friends’ Facebook updates, but what they often do not see is the ugly side of everyone’s lives. Who would post that on Facebook, right?

            Social media is also the prime evil of procrastination – you know you’ve spent more time up there then you should have. Now, there is a new browser application that enables you to limit your usage. Key in the websites your rational side knows you shouldn’t be spending so much time on, and go cold turkey!

            7. Separate different circles of friends

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              The more your co-workers know about your daily life, the more awkward things get! Try your best not to let your actual life intersect with your work life; the further apart they are, the less drama and gossip there will be.

              The workplace is a very competitive environment – you would not want any untrue rumors to go around about you that may have a drastic effect on your reputation.

              Depending on what kind of a job you have, letting your clients know about your private life may also affect your professionalism. They might no longer see you as someone with the authority and power you had before. Sometimes it’s crucial to be a little distant!

              8. Spend time with the right people

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                We all have limited amount of free time each day, so who do you choose to spend it with? Here’s a simple list of questions that will make the decision easier:

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                1. Do you feel yourself and comfortable around them? If you have a full-time job, you might not get enough rest and relaxation every day, so it’s important that you can be yourself during your off-hours.

                2. Can you tell the truth when something upsets you? Who we tell the truth to is, of course, who we should spend the most time with. If you have to put on a mask when you hang out with someone, he or she probably isn’t the best person you should spend your time with.

                3. Are you genuinely happy and satisfied when you are with them? Some people spend time with the kind of friends they believe will make them happy. It can be tiring and impractical to rely on someone for your mood – be the person you want to spend time with. Know exactly what makes you smile from the bottom of your heart, and then you know who to spend your time with.

                4. Do they tell you the truth? The truth isn’t always the sweetest thing to hear, but we need to hear it anyways. Who else would tell it to your face, if not someone who truly cares about you?

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                  We’re all unique, bar-code unique. So, some tips are not meant to be followed rigorously as everyone’s situation is different. These are simply suggestions that you may find helpful to dedramatize and declutter your life! Say YES to a simpler life!

                  Featured photo credit: Hipster Wallpaper HDW via heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com

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                  Published on January 16, 2019

                  How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                  How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                  We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                  You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                  You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                  That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                  Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                  1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                  Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                  We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                  To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                  At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                  The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                  2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                  Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                  The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                  In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                  It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                  It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                  So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                  • Are you a great strategist?
                  • Are you an effective planner?
                  • Is Project Management your strength?
                  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                  • Are you the ideas person?
                  • Is Implementation your strength?

                  Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                  3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                  One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                  Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                  Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                  Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                  4. Take Time for Planning

                  “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                  One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                  You can take the time to think about:

                  • What’s the purpose of the project?
                  • How Important is it?
                  • When does it need to be delivered by?
                  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                  • What are the KPIs?
                  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                  • Who is working on this project?
                  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                  • What tolerances can I add in?
                  • What are the review stages?
                  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                  Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                  5. Focus on Priorities

                  Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                  Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                  One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                  James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                    6. Take Time Out

                    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                    8. Stop Multitasking

                    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                    9. Work in Blocks of Time

                    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                    Then take another 10-minute break.

                    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                    10. Get Rid of Distractions

                    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                    12. Take a Time Audit

                    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                    13. Protect Your Confidence

                    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                    Final Words

                    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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