“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday’s junk.” ~ Louise Smith
Now the festive season is over. Christmas is a period where days, weeks, time itself doesn’t seem to mean much; a time of blissful (and sometimes stressful!) disconnection from the worries of your everyday life. But now, that time is gone, a new year has come around and you know what day it is again; you are about to get back into the rhythm of ‘normal’ life. But before you get too comfortable settling back into your habits, why not clear the decks! There is no better time to declutter your mind and your environment. Let go of the ‘stuff’ that is cluttering up your peripheral vision so that you can sail on into the New Year with a clearer head and a greater sense of wellbeing at work.
1. Declutter Your Space
A cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind. Too much extra stuff, or mess, in your physical space does a couple of things to your brain:
- You become over stimulated. Too many colours, noises, objects, movements are a lot for your brain to process. By reducing these things your brain wasted less energy on these distractions, and more energy on the important tasks in hand.
- If your clutter falls under the umbrella of ‘mess’, things being in the wrong place, your mind adds it to a subconscious ‘to-do’ list. Dealing with this clutter is just another thing that needs to be done. Deal with that stuff first and you will find yourself to be much more focused.
Going about this is very easy. Just simplify your work-space, wherever that may be; get rid of all non-essential items. Next, find a specific home for all the items that are left. Before you start work in the morning, be mindful of the locations of all these items, take 5 minutes to make sure they are in their new designated spots… this way, your brain will see that all is in order and will give you the freedom to concentrate on the essential and the ‘now’.
2. Single Tasking
Simplicity is the key to your wellbeing at work. The productivity it allows will do wonders for your professional resilience. Multi-tasking is a habit we all fall into and are conditioned to think of as more productive than single tasking. Multi-tasking is complex and stressful for the body and the mind, so much of your energy is wasted on the stress of the very fact that you are ‘multi-tasking’.
Make a ‘to do’ list. Order by priority. Then move through it task by task, seeing each job from start to finish without any other distraction. You will be amazed at the efficiency of this method, even if it does seem counter-intuitive. If a new task comes in, just revise your list, and think about the task when you come to it. This is better than letting the new demand hang over your head and your current job. Try it! You will see your stress reduce and your wellbeing soar.
3. Let it Go
There is no better time than the new year to get rid of those issues and grievances lingering in the back of your head. Grudges demand a lot of energy and serve no purpose, so let it go. Missed opportunities are gone now, so let that disappointment go and move forward to the next prospect. Everyone makes mistakes, stop worrying about the ones you have made, let them go. Once this baggage has gone a weight will lift. You will emerge feeling happier and more resilient.
4. Think On Paper
Sometimes there is too much going on in your head, and all of it is important. Ideas, appointments, conversations, deadlines… you need it all. To stop your brain from exploding and to keep your wellbeing at work intact, just unload some of this stuff onto paper. Or an app. Or a word document. Whatever suits you. Think of it as an external hard-drive for your mind.
This is a big one for us these days. We all do it. Checking the phone for messages when there is no need. Popping some music on. Checking our social media. All of these are distractions we don’t need. Try switching off your devices for an hour. Phone off. Radio off. Close your Twitter and Facebook tabs. See what a difference it makes to your focus. It does your wellbeing a world of good to quiet your sensory surroundings for even just an hour every day.
And in the spirit of ‘quieting your sensory surroundings’… meditation. It doesn’t have to be for long, 5 minutes after lunch might be all it takes. A quick meditation every day, to be present and reset your mind will go some way to helping your professional resilience. Your heart rate will go down, your stress will reduce, and your mind will find much greater clarity.
These are all small changes. New Year’s Resolutions have a reputation for being huge and, often, unachievable feats that are far outside our normal habits. Try and incorporate a couple of these small changes at work and in the rest of your life and see what fantastic tools they can be in improving your wellbeing.
By Chris Thomson
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