Stressful situations are commonplace in any working environment. Screaming deadlines, tetchy colleagues and administrative hassles are all part and parcel of the daily grind whether we like it or not. Yet despite this abundance of external stressors, many of us continue to create further anxiety for ourselves without even realizing it.
If you’ve ever spent half an hour wading through reams of paper in search of that one critical document or felt swamped by the abundance of brightly coloured Post-It notes covering every inch of your work station, then you’re probably suffering from Irritable Desk Syndrome. Yes, it’s an actual disease, and something that can end up causing far more stress in the long run than any ranting client could ever hope to.
You see, clutter is the sworn enemy of calm, and something that afflicts many of us as we rush from deadline to deadline, seemingly unable to stop for breath. As the paper piles up and the space on your computer desktop shrinks to the point that your background wallpaper is nothing but a distant memory, stress levels mount, affecting not only productivity but also long-term mental health.
Buried in an avalanche of documentation, it’s impossible for us to feel creative or productive, as we’re constantly reminded of work yet to do; distracted from the job at hand by the multitude of others waiting around the corner. Clutter signals to our brain that work is never done, leaving us in a perpetual state of anxiety that reduces our ability to focus and think laterally.
But here’s the good news – this stress can be controlled. Simply by making a few changes to your daily routine, you can reduce the mental and physical clutter in your personal space, reducing your anxiety levels and improving your overall productivity in the process. Here’s how:
Do you really need that three-hole punch? How often do you actually use your birthday calendar? It’s time to get ruthless with your personal space, and remove anything that isn’t absolutely essential to you. The little things can quickly pile up, so it’s important that you only hang on to those that actually have a purpose.
You already have a fully functional and compact filing system on your desk – use it. In the vast majority of cases, those documents on your desk also exist in digital form, so why double up? Just remember not to duplicate that clutter on your computer, or it’ll leave you feeling equally overwhelmed.
CLEAR THE DECKS
It might seem obvious, but it’s vital that you take a couple of minutes at the end of every day to take stock of your environment and remove any unnecessary elements. By ensuring this is done regularly, you’ll avoid drowning in tsunamis of paperwork further down the line.
TAKE A PICTURE
Are you holding onto documents and slips of paper just so you can refer back to them at a later stage? Why not simply snap a few pictures of the offending articles and relegate them to the bin? If you really do need to reference these documents at some point, you’ll be far likelier to have access to your smartphone anyway.