Thursday, September 13, 2012
Today I would like to talk about reducing stress. I think I'm going to make this my regular Thursday Topic. When I chat with people they are often telling me about how much stress they are under. Stress at work, stress at home, stress from the kids, stress from their spouse, stress from having so much to do and not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Much of this stress comes from being disorganized, having clutter around us. It's distracting. And when we are distracted we inefficient and waste a lot of time. When we realize how much time we've wasted during the day we place more stress on ourselves.
Frequently people turn to food when they are stressed. Food is comforting. It makes us feel better in the moment. Too bad it doesn't make us feel better in the long run. Food is good when we use it for energy to get all of the things done that we put on our "to-do" list. But as the day winds down, we realize we haven't finished everything we had on our list and this creates stress. So, we eat, usually something that we really don't want to eat so we can feel better.
Here's an idea, GET ORGANIZED.
"I am organized," you say. "I have a list!"
That's a good start, but not what I mean. Lists are great, don't get me wrong, but they only help you stay on track. Most lists have no organization, no real order, and they are usually TOO LONG. What I really mean is get your life organized. Get rid of the clutter, the refuse in your life. Take a moment to look around you. What do you see? If you are at your desk at work do you have an overflowing In-box? Stacks of paper on the corner of your desk waiting for you to get too them? Another stack of files on a chair? Post-it notes everywhere? How about on top of the file cabinet? How does that look?
If you are at home how does the room you are in look? Is it neat and tidy or do you have an unfolded blanket over the back of a chair, a pillow on the floor, maybe there are some dishes sitting on the end table on top of an unread newspaper from 3 days ago? How about a couple of pairs of shoes at the end of the couch? See what I mean. We have clutter everywhere in our lives. Isn't it distracting? How many times have you said to yourself "I need to get that mess cleaned up."
How many of these little "messes" do you have in your life. Personally, I have about a dozen. Actually less. Last night I cleaned up 2 of them and filled my recycling bin to the top with junk mail, newspapers, old files, and shopping circulars. Getting rid of that clutter was LIBERATING. I felt so much better afterwards, and so much less STRESSED. I was so relaxed afterward I actually sighed. Yes, a "sigh of relief."
Give it a try. Anything you can do to get less stressed, stay busy, be active and improve your life must be worth a couple of hours, right? This strategy works with just about every part of your life. I call it "Swabbing the Decks."
Make three piles:
#1. Stuff to keep. This is the stuff that has actual value. In this pile I put paperwork I need to keep either for a project I'm working on or for record keeping (i.e. banking, taxes, etc...). I works for a closet as well. Clothes I am going to wear again.
#2. Stuff to donate: This is stuff that might have value to someone else. In this pile I put files I am going to delegate to someone else or clothes that I am donating to charity.
#3. Stuff to throw away. This should be your biggest pile. Get rid of all of the old receipts, newspaper articles, recipes you aren't going to cook anyway, etc... Have lots of old clothes? Either trash them or use them for cleaning rags. I have a small rag bag, about the size of a wastebasket. Any bigger and I would look like a hoarder. Remember the idea is to free yourself of the clutter in your life.
Okay, now take pile #3 to the trash. Get rid of it. Get it out of the house. Out of site, out of mind. Gone forever. Next, take pile #2 and walk those files to whomever is going to work on them. Or take those items for donation, box them up and take them out to the car for delivery to the charity of your choice. Now, look around. How does your space look now? Are the "Decks" clear? How do you feel about your space now? Better? I'll bet you do.
Now, for the hard part. Go through pile #1 and do it all over again. I'll bet you cut that pile down by at least 50% more.
Getting organized and staying organized leaves us more time to do the activities we enjoy doing. Activities like cooking healthy food, working out, spending time with our family or friends or even walking the dog around the neighborhood. Organization helps us whittle our "list" from 10 items to perhaps 4-5 items. It makes us more efficient because it eliminates many of the distractions in our lives.
I hope this helps reduce your stress. Remember, we are each responsible for the life we lead. Take a couple of hours and make your life better for you.
JUICE to you.
P.S. In case you're wondering about JUICE, it's an acronym for Join Us In Creating Enthusiasm.