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9 Ways to Get Rid of All the Crap in Your Life That’s Holding You Back

9 Ways to Get Rid of All the Crap in Your Life That’s Holding You Back


    The Mayan Calendar proclaims 2012 as the Year of New Beginnings.

    But it doesn’t say that in your overloaded planner, now does it?

    Too much to do, too many responsibilities, too many meetings, deadlines and far too little time. Too much crap in the way. Feels more like the end of the world then a new beginning, right?

    It felt like that to me when I landed in the hospital over Christmas. Needles pierced my skin begging me to make changes. Three surgeries and weeks of healing later, I decided to cut the crap that is holding back my life and make 2012 the Year of New Beginnings.

    From now on all my decisions and time need to be dedicated to those matters most important to me: my health, my family, and my purpose.

    Anything not aligning with these areas had to be culled and cleared.

    When you face an illness or relationship breakdown (or any other life challenges), you start to understand the importance of prioritizing. So much of our precious and limited time is taken up with unimportant tasks and people pulling our attention this way and that.

    The good news is that you have control over where you give your attention. Wake up now and only focus on the essentials.

    What are your three most important focus areas?

    Decide on your three highest priorities. Then take action using the following nine ways to clear out the crap so you can relish every waking minute as you realign your time and energy with your priorities to recharge your life.

    1. Remove Yourself From Negative Environments

    Travelling for many years put me in a happiness bubble where everyone was friendly and kind.

    As soon as I returned to the real world (and the blogging world), I realized that there are a lot of people who love to argue. I soon found myself getting swept up in the negativity. I thought I was contributing in a positive way — or at least being helpful — but really the very act of me contributing meant that I was taking in and expending negative energy.

    It’s not just the arguing in the moment, but the processing of it afterwards that consumes many of your waking hours. I’ve learned that I can’t change people, but I can change my focus and where I hang out.

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    I have since culled several communities from my online space.

    Don’t let people rent space in your head. Make the decision to stay away from any environments that don’t serve you. Hang around only those who help you grow and are positive and encouraging.

    2. Shut Down Social Spaces

    I’m big on having as many windows open as possible when I’m working online. It drives my husband crazy, but it helps me to keep on track and not forget any important tasks I need to get back to.

    But it also ensures that I stay connected to the social sphere.

    The notification numbers flash at me and before you know it…I’m distracted by ridiculous status updates about lunch selections, tweets directing me to yet another interesting article, and the explosion of a new online argument.

    Take control and shut down the windows of your social communities. Log out. Designate times of the day to check in.

    Take advantage of some useful tools like Post Planner to schedule your updates for the day.

    You’ll soon be so involved in being productive that you won’t even notice that the social world has disappeared.

    3. Forget About Checking Email Five Times an Hour

    Why do we feel like we need to check our emails multiple times in an hour? The fear that we are going to miss out on the next big opportunity grips us as we go and check one more time.

    Just in case.

    Did we ever check the mailbox multiple times a day? No…because we trusted that whatever was wanting our attention or needing us for the next big opportunity would arrive at approximately 3 pm every weekday afternoon.

    I have found a great deal of resistance to letting this one go, which I think flags another needed change: a “desperate” mindset.

    I have organized set times during the day to check email, and outside of those times I log off and shut down. My productivity levels have increased dramatically as a result, and I could do better still.

    Turn off all your email notification pop-ups (don’t forget those phone apps) and schedule in times to check your email. I promise you are not going to miss out on anything.

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    4. Get Back To Pen and Paper

    I wrote this article sitting on a beach chair by the pool. The afternoon breeze blew the sticky heat off my skin and the rainbow lorikeets sang a sunset song to me from the banksia bushes.

    I locked the computer away inside and I let the thoughts write freely on the page with the help of my pen — the trusty one that writes well. (Admit it — we all have that one pen that we’re attached to…)

    It might seem like extra work because I will have to eventually retype the piece, but it’s not really. I am relaxed, the thoughts are flowing easily, my eyes aren’t turning square, and there are no distracting flashing neon notification lights.

    To increase your productivity, it is important to remove yourself from your normal environment and go to a creating space that does not involve technology. You will banish that stilted electronic energy and use a more natural form.

    Grab a pen and paper, a hammock (and maybe even a beer), and get creating. You’ll be amazed by the quality of your word flow.

    5. Go to Bed Early

    If you are a parent like me, you are probably thinking I am crazy for suggesting this. When the cherubs are safely tucked in their beds that is really the only time you have for productivity.

    But if you are culling in other areas, then your work hours will be filled with more space for greater productivity. Now you have time to go to bed at a decent hour.

    Studies have proven that the human being cannot function optimally if it does not get adequate rest. Burning the candle at both ends is not going to help you progress forward. You might think you are being productive but the quality of your work will suffer — not to mention the dark circles that will develop under your eyes.

    The more sleep we get, the more energy we have to create amazing work and complete tasks. Make an effort to get to bed before 11 pm every evening, aiming for no less than 6 hours sleep. Besides, going to bed early will help you achieve the very next important way to increase your productivity.

    6. Get up Early and Utilize this Focus Time

    Grab the vibrant energy that arrives with the sun. As the world is not quite up and creating chaos around you, this is the perfect time for you to snap up some hours to be highly productive.

    Leave the emails, the social sites, and the reading of other posts. Get straight to the creation work; the work that is best going to help you achieve your goals.

    You may also wish to use some of this time for exercise or meditation work. I find meditating first thing in the morning helps to clear my mind and gets me feeling relaxed, connected and fresh.

    If you get up at around 5 am this will give you a good solid two hours of focused work; it is amazing what you can achieve in this time.

    7. Say No More Often

    Life comes with a never-ending supply of parties, coffee meetups, meetings, phone conversations, dinner dates, conferences, press trips and every other imagined opportunity demanding our presence.

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    It is wonderful to feel wanted, but at what cost?

    Attending all these functions will have a detrimental effect on your lifestyle and productivity.

    Last year, I was laying the foundations for our blogging business so I said “Yes!” to everything.

    The four months previous to ending up in the hospital, I had a baby, was a single parent for two weeks, went overseas twice, travelled domestically for business three times, spoke at four conferences, and had meetings and events non-stop.

    We don’t want to miss out or let others down, so we say “Yes” instead of “No.” But this will quickly lead to a case of burnout.

    Saying “no” to those things that aren’t that essential will open up the way for those more important opportunities to take priority.

    I’ve said “no” several times this year already, and I feel less overwhelmed and more laser-focused. The right opportunities and teachers are now arriving.

    For each new invitation or request, ask yourself the following:

    “How will saying yes to this help me grow and improve in my three most important focus areas?”

    If it doesn’t, then say “no”.

    8. Improve your Diet

    Have you ever stopped to think of the crap we put into our bodies? I’ve paid attention to this recently while implementing some very specific dietary lifestyle changes.

    After a week, it became glaringly obvious the reason for my slump in energy and frumpiness, when I lost 4 kilograms and my natural energy levels shot through the roof.

    My productivity levels were now matching my energy.

    Reduce the animal fats and sugar in your diet. Eat to live, not live to eat. I now follow the diet of the Okinawan race in Japan who have the longest life expectancy, and little incidence of heart disease and diabetes.

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    Basically 2/3 of your diet should be plant food and 1/3 meat, comprising of mostly fish.

    Your health is your most important asset. Don’t push it to the side any longer.

    9. De-clutter your Environment

    You’ll notice that up until now you have culled in order to improve your work and health, now it is important that you clear up that stale energy around you.

    Letting your head space be taken up with so many unimportant tasks means that we allow the papers to build up around us. And it’s not just the paper, but the clothes, the toys, the gadgets — all those things we haven’t used in months or years.

    Usually, we are holding onto them either because we are too lazy (or busy) to clean it, or we have that “lack” mentality that tells us to hoard…just in case.

    If you haven’t used it in a year, then you don’t need it. I like to assess my belongings on the basis of a year to account for the change of seasons — mostly in regards to clothing. All other items can be assessed on a shorter period of time.

    As a traveller, I want more memories and less stuff. Culling comes easy for me.

    I recently discovered old journals filled with the pain of past mistakes and regrets. I am focused on moving forward; holding onto a past I no longer want does not help me with that. I threw them directly in the bin to free up that positive energy space for me.

    What are you holding onto that you no longer need? Start with a different section of your room every day to declutter.

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I really use you?
    • Is holding on to you going to help me move forward and enable me to be productive?

    In Closing

    The end of the Mayan Calendar does not really mean the end of the world. It just signifies another cycle; a cycle that gives us permission to break free from the crap that holds us back.

    All you need to do now is decide. Are your dreams worth it? Do you believe in them enough? If you do then the choice becomes pretty simple.

    No more crap. Just new beginnings.

    (Photo credit: Conceptual Image of Papers Coming Out of a Man’s Head via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

    According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

    So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

    Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

    Lighting

    Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

    If you work in a company office:
    You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

    If you work from a home office:
    Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

    Chair and Table

    If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

    Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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    • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
    • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
    • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

    If you work in a company office:
    Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

    If you work from a home office:
    Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

    Clutter

    Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

    If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

    If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

    Room Color

    The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

    Room Temperature

    Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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    If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

    If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

    Room Scents

    Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

    Try using these scents to stay focused:

    • Pine – Increases alertness
    • Cinnamon – Improves focus
    • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
    • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
    • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

    If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

    If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

    Noise Level

    The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

    If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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    Air Quality

    Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

    If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

    Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

    If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

    Different Spaces

    If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

    If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

    If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

    Organization of People

    Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

    If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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    If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

    Idea Storage

    Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

    For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

    Refreshment

    Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

    If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

    Bring in Nature

    We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

    If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

    If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

    Digital Space

    For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

    Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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