De-Stress & De-Clutter: How To Get Your Work Life Together
Career & Money

De-Stress & De-Clutter: How To Get Your Work Life Together

Whenever many of us think about spring cleaning, we're likely to address everything but our work lives. But just as it's important to change out those winter coats for spring jackets or organize all those hoarded thrift finds that have multiplied in your spare room's closet (or is that just me?), it's a good idea to clear out the stress, clutter, and disorganization in your work life.

Here are a few things I've done over the years to get on the right track and really bring in a new season of winning, empowered and refreshed:

1. Do a digital detox.

And no, this isn't about fasting from scrolling Instagram for a month. This is all about bulk-deleting those 300 sent e-mails that you no longer need to keep track of. It's about going into your Google inbox and getting rid of all 21,000 of those social media notifications. It's unsubscribing to newsletters that you rarely read (or don't need to be reading during work hours). It's emptying out your digital trash and feeling okay with the fact that you'll never see that old proof-that-I-finished-my-part-of-that-project e-mail you kept from a year ago.

It's about finally printing out the dozens of photos you took on that trip to Mexico two years ago. Delete numbers, photos, and apps from your phone and computers that you no longer use (or want to use). Organize those random files on your desktop into folders and only keep things that are current or super-important to the job that you do.

Since I'm the ultimate e-mail and digital file hoarder, I often do this process in small chunks---a few tasks at a time, over weeks---so that I don't overwhelm myself. Also, if there are files that you just can't part with (especially the large ones taking up space in your inbox or on your computer's hard drive), put them in a Dropbox, Google Drive, or other online file-storage option, invest in an external hard drive, or get a USB stick. Be sure to name files accordingly and utilize organizational tools like folders and bookmarks.

2. Set up automated tasks.

For example, I've found that using email templates is very useful for quickly inputting responses or copy that I repetitively have to type to do the work I do. If I need to send an invoice, I have a template for it, and I can schedule them to go out at the appropriate time. Even for corporate gifting, holiday greetings, correspondences with new writers, client onboarding, scheduling appointments, submitting reports, or other managerial things, I've found ways to automate certain tasks so that I have more time on my hands to focus on the creative aspects of my job.

If you can automate (or schedule) anything, set those up as ahead of time as possible using platforms like Calendly, Asana, or Hubspot. You can even automate your social posts, and it's not the formulaic, restrictive process it used to be.

Anything that you do every day, month, quarter, or year that is a routine that hardly ever changes much should be automated, as it will literally make your workday that much easier.

3. Upgrade your office space with small touches of joy.

For me, this means adding comfort, color, and great memories. I find that when the space I'm working in reflects vibes that make me feel happy, I'm more likely to be productive. Also, since I'm quite tall and work in front of a computer for 80% of my day, I have to be comfortable, so my desk, chair, and other amenities have to accommodate me.

I always keep photos of my family and accomplishments around wherever I'm working (even if it's just my computer's screensaver), something that's in a bright, vivid hue on my desk (like a candle, mug, or picture frame) and an ergonomic desk setup.

If I have to throw out, return, or donate a chair or desk simply because it's no longer comfortable or practical for me, I unapologetically do, no matter when or where I bought it.

I'm also a minimalist when it comes to my office space, as I don't like a lot of books, knickknacks, and other items lingering around that don't have a purpose. Figure out what office vibe and style allows you to work at your best in your office, and if something doesn't align with that, make the necessary adjustments.

4. Do an assessment of your professional life, passions, and goals.

You can liken this to how many who help people get a handle on their closets often start by asking them to assess what clothing they already have in them. Well, in this case, you'd need to just check in with yourself in terms of your current work-life outlook, the things you like about it, what you'd like to achieve in the season that you're in, and what you don't like about any of it. This is helpful because oftentimes, at the core of work-related clutter (both mentally and physically) is a lack of insight into where you are professionally and where you'd like to be. Many of the moves I make in my career start with that---down to the smallest work-related tasks and how I approach completing them.

You don't have to have all the answers, but it's a good idea to at least sit and write a few things down. Write down the processes that stress you out the most and possible solutions. Take some time to find out what type of optimal environment you work best in and how you contribute to the culture of that environment (if at all). What do you love about the everyday things you do at work? What do you dislike? Are there ways of communicating, project management, systems management, or technology processes that could make things easier or more challenging?

There are also online assessments to help you figure out more about how you can maximize your potential at work.

5. Get some help.

Decluttering and purging anything can be quite exhausting and mentally draining, so getting help in the areas where you need it is key.

For the digital detox, for example, I had to seek out someone who knows more about how to streamline things in a way that made sense to me, especially since I handle a lot of documents, emails, and image files that I don't like to get rid of.

Talk with an IT colleague, that one smart, always-organized friend, or even a coach to get the assistance you need for spring-cleaning aspects of your work life that you find challenging to address on your own. By taking things one step at a time and moving forward with a positive goal of shifting the energy in your favor, you'll find solutions that work for you.

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Featured image by Morsa Images/Getty Images

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