There is a powerful connection between the state of our homes and workplaces and our personal health
and well-being, it is just as important to set our intentions towards our professional goals as they are
towards our closets. Earlier this year I had the chance to speak with NBC Washington to share some tips
on resetting for the New Year. Here are the ones I shared related to our professional lives:
1. Investigate what joy at work means to you.
• Which activities at work do you enjoy the most? What are the essential pieces
needed to do your job well? What have you been proud of accomplishing? Write
these ideas down and look for the items in your office space that represent these
ideas, and the projects that have brought this joy to life.
• Be sure to incorporate some joy into your workspace! If you are using a shared
space like the kitchen table to work at, create a ritual everyday where you clear off
the table from breakfast and bring in your 'work supplies' - this can be moving over
your favorite plant from the window sill to sit beside you, grabbing a framed photo
from the TV stand and setting it next to your laptop, or making the cup of tea that
you ONLY save for work hours. At the end of day put these items back where they
normally live and take a deep breath - these small movements help signal shifts for
your workspace and your day even if you are inside the same place all day long.
2. Minimize decision fatigue by examining the tasks you regularly complete
• We make ~35,000 decisions each day but usually only remember ~70. Decisions can
be broken down into low, medium and high stakes ones. So break out that pile of
index cards and write down the ones facing you today to get a sense of what you
are dealing with. Decisions range from low ones like ‘which font should I use on this
power point’ to high stakes like ‘am I offering the right services for my clients’?
Medium ones are unfortunately most of what we have and they are often difficult
to complete because they feel too hard to do in advance and too easy to forget.
• Look at your pile and think: which decisions deserve my time and attention? If
making the decisions is critical for the work you do, or want to be doing to advance
your visions, keep it. Any small ones you can delete or routinize (like what to eat for
breakfast each day, or always wearing the same style of shirt to work) will free up
mental space. High stakes decisions need focused attention and mental clarity to
complete. Medium stakes decisions should be sorted by type and scheduled on
your calendar so they don’t get pushed down the road.
3. Address your digital clutter
• Research has shown that the more time spent on email, the lower the productivity
and higher the stress. And that other digital traps like our phones, suck up ~85
moments a day when we reach for them. Getting a handle on your digital life will
improve concentration and confidence. When you set aside time to review your
digital life ask yourself these questions about emails and files on your devices: will I
need this email again to get my job done? Will it provide knowledge or motivation
for future work? If the answer is no, go ahead and delete it. Set up a digital filing
system based on your current work and as new documents and emails cross your
path thoughtfully consider whether you really need to look at it again.
4. Schedule ‘tidy up’ days at work for physical and digital space along with your colleagues
•Managers can support this by scheduling bulk clean up days – David Allen noted that
“all organizations should establish a purge day” where everyone has permission to
spend the whole day in decluttering mode on their computer and in physical offices
• How you schedule your time is an important part of organizing your home
workspace. No one likes to rush through meetings on a Friday only to be met with
stacks of notes you need to email off to your boss, or printed out half-edited
versions of briefs you already submitted online. Try scheduling yourself a 30 or 60
minute 'weekly review' session - this practice was developed by David Allen and
gives you the opportunity to literally 'tidy up' your workspace, calendar and to-do
list so that they don't spill over into the rest of your home or life.
• This also helps to establish a mindful and compassionate work environment and the
practices to sustain it. Workplace mindfulness sessions help organizations address
workplace loneliness, anxiety and burnout by establishing connection between
team members and a healthy workplace culture where individuals can grow and
flourish as part of a team.
Decluttering is about so much more than getting rid of things: When we make purposeful choices about
what we want to live with, we also set intentions for how we want to live.