Welcome to the crazy life of busy.
With the constant chime of alarms, messages, and calls, your desk is not a jungle, but a five o’clock traffic jam. You look around and see nothing but clutter: rings from coffee mugs, bright sticky notes with scribbles and scratches, candles you bought to relax which now sit vacant and forgotten.
If the above resonates with you, consider this your therapy. Implement these 10 tips to reduce stress and get your life organized.
Be like Santa: Make a list, check it twice.
We organize our days so we can “stay on track.” But before you can stay on track, you need to create the tracks. And that’s what a list is for.
On a sheet of paper, name five tasks you want completed (try not to go over five). Next to the name, put the amount of hours each task deserves. Then, reorder the tasks from most to least important.
As you continue your day, glance at your task list. Cross off tasks you completed, or tasks you know you cannot complete that day. Don’t obsess over your list, but don’t neglect it, either. And remember: do one task at a time. Which leads us to…
Take a chill-pill, stop multitasking.
We’re the age of multitasking maniacs. Though we finish multiple tasks (sometimes), multitasking is known to destroy focus, impair memory, and increase stress levels.
So take a chill-pill, and do one thing at a time.
Complete a pomodoro.
The “pomodoro” technique is a way to manage time by sectioning your task list into 25 minute, work-intense intervals.
Basically, buy a timer (or use your smartphone) and set the timer for 25 minutes. Pick a task, start the timer, and work. Within that 25 minutes, you cannot distract yourself. That is the point. No cell phone. No email. No games. Nothing but the task.
After the 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break.
Reduce your level of caffeine.
Don’t get me wrong. Caffeine certainly helps. But people almost never suffer from caffeine shortage. More often than not, they need moderation.
Though caffeine itself may not perpetuate stress, its effects certainly can. For instance, too much caffeine can ruin your sleep cycles. Caffeine takes a full twenty-four hours to leave your system. Even if you have a cup of coffee at 8:00 am, you still have 25% of caffeine at 8:00pm. A cup at 1:00 pm leaves 50% of caffeine at 8:00pm. That’s a lot of caffeine for bedtime.
So when you go for that 2:00pm cup of coffee, remember you could be doing more harm than good.
Leave time for social media sites and emails.
Another blessing in moderation, social media distracts to no end.
To keep this time-killer trigger out of reach, designate time for social media use. If you liked the pomodoro technique, you can use those 5 minutes of “down” time to use social media. Or maybe you designate the last 15 minutes of the day for Facebook, the first 15 minutes to Twitter, and 15 minutes of lunch to LinkedIn.
Either way, block off your social media use.
Make an external pocket.
When we get stressed, we tend to forget things. Important things. Wallets. Keys. Cellphones. Concert tickets. School forms. Whatever has importance tends to go missing when anxiety kicks the brainpan.
What I do when I’m stressed is make an “external pocket:” I place four strips of tape on my desk (at home or at work). Immediately when I arrive, I take everything out of my pockets and place them within the tapes’ boundaries. Then, at all times, I know where my stuff is.
You don’t have to use tape. You can use a basket, drawer, or box to group your essentials in one location.
Be a cleanup hitter and sweep.
Clutter on a desk translates into clutter in the mind. Sometimes, when you’re stressed, overwhelmed, disorganized, or confused, all you need is a good cleaning. So sweep the floor, organize the papers, move the desktop to a new location, and clear the clutter.
Choose contemplation over consumption.
When I am contemplative, I am thinking deeply about something, whether it be a problem, information, or news.
When I am consumptive, I am digesting information.
We experience information overload when consumption exceeds contemplation. And when that happens, you feel less motivated and more exhausted.
Just as people count calories, keep track of what your mind consumes. Leave some time for contemplation, meditation, silence. Silence in the mind makes you feel serene. Just as you section off time for social media, save space for silence.
Not literally (that would be called a “clap”), but mentally high-five yourself throughout the day. As you complete tasks, get excited. If you don’t complete something, don’t beat yourself up.
A study of 607 patients in Denmark found that patients with positive moods were 58% more likely to live at least another 5 years.
So give yourself a hive-five today.
Set realistic goals.
To tie this post up, we conclude with goals. Our first tip was to make a task list. If you made a task list, great. Now ask yourself, “are these goals realistic?”
Setting unrealistic goals increases stress. Since you cannot complete all the goals, you feel unaccomplished. Setting realistic goals, then, brings a sense of satisfaction when you leave the office, a satisfaction that says, “I did well today.”