Clutter Strikes an Imbalance with Work and Life
Work/Life balance is a huge topic in today’s hustle-and-bustle society. With the corporate world and the general job market living up to the term “Rat Race,” it seems as if individuals are constantly working, trying to maintain and grow their spot at their place of business. As a result, a topic of equal importance and emphasis has evolved in work/life balance, so much so that it is actually a hot topic among most employers.
How do we achieve this balance? The answer may surprise you: Eliminate clutter. What, you ask, does clutter have to do with work/life balance? Quite a bit, actually.
A cluttered environment significantly impacts the way we function on a day-to-day basis, both at work and at home. Dealing with clutter everywhere and all the time leads to stress, and that can lead to a wealth of negative feelings and emotions. Some of the words we’ve seen used to describe this state include overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, angry, depressed, confused, unproductive…we think you get the picture!
To avoid all of this negativity, you need to get organized and simplify your work and home lives and spaces. While this may sound very pie-in-the-sky, it’s actually very achievable. The first thing you need to do is identify the areas of clutter.
Look at the space around you. Are there piles of papers, unopened mail and magazines? Is there a junk drawer (or drawers) overflowing with stuff? Do you even have a clear spot on your desk or kitchen counter? Remember that you cannot be productive if the space you’re in doesn’t work for your needs.
Once you’ve spotted the problem areas, develop and write down a plan of attack. Follow the same rules you would for any planning and organizing task: Make time each day to tackle one of the points of clutter—15 minutes is a good amount of time, since you want to be sure to keep these in small, manageable chunks. For example, one day you can clean off your desktop and the next, organize a set of shelves in your kitchen. Do this for both home and office. If you don’t, chances that the clutter from one will slowly migrate to the other are high. As scary as this sounds, YES, clutter can follow you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. One person can’t be expected to do everything themselves all the time. At home, ask your spouse or partner to pitch in to the effort. It makes a great productive chore to keep the kids out of trouble, too! At work, look at ways you can move your administrative duties to an intern, virtual assistant or student volunteer.
Email is a huge contributor to clutter—just think “spam” and e-newsletter subscriptions and updates. Set specific times during the day to check these—we suggest limiting it to 3-4 times, and during the in-between time, turn off your alerts or close your email program entirely. For regular paper mail, checking it once per day is more than sufficient. Don’t let either email boxes get too full—they can quickly become overwhelming stacks of clutter and snowball out of control.
There are so many ways to start the de-cluttering process and maintaining a balance between work and life. If you ever get stuck during the process, ask yourself this question: “If your home or office were to burn down, what items or materials would NEED to be replaced?” If you have things that don’t fall into this category, chances are they’re taking up valuable space and contributing to your stressful environment.
So, strike a balance in your life today and get rid of your clutter.