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December 19, 2015

WORK: What To Do When You Can't Control the Chaos

Your home is your space. You may share it with your family, your roommate, or maybe just your cat, but you have a say in how much or how little your home contains and how those contents are organized.

You feel peaceful and relaxed at home because you've worked to keep it clutter-free and efficient to live in and maintain. It's your sanctuary.

What about your job? If you work in a large office or for a big company, you may not have much pull when it comes to office clutter and organization. If you're like me, it can sometimes feel like you're sharing a workspace with dozens of roommates who don't understand the ripple effect their chaos has on their coworkers or the overall feel of the office.

Sometimes you're all just too busy trying to keep from falling behind on deadlines to make substantial changes and things simply pile up.

Have no fear! There's a way you can minimize the negative impact of office clutter and give yourself some much-needed breathing space at work by creating a sanctuary for yourself there as well.

If you have your own personal space like a desk or workstation, start by streamlining that. Clear everything out of drawers, off of the work surface, and remove any hanging clutter on the vertical surfaces. Think carefully about what you use in a day to complete your most common work tasks. Replace the tools and materials needed to complete those things and send the rest to the supply closet for someone else to use.

Keep the horizontal surfaces as clear as you possibly can. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we have to have tons of papers, files, or tools on our desks in order to appear busy. Try to remember that "busy" is not an indicator or employee value--your results, not the piles of work at arm's reach--prove how valuable you are to your team.

Does your office have an employee suggestions box or another place where you can gently mention that you feel office productivity and morale would improve with some spring cleaning? Use it!

Can you telecommute? Many people never consider asking their boss if telecommuting, even if only one day per week, is an option. My husband did this with his job and had great success. Of course, it didn't hurt that he sweetened the deal for his employer by offering to pass on an annual 3% raise if he was able to shift to telecommuting two days each week. He still came out ahead thanks to all he saves on the cost of transportation.

If telecommuting isn't an option for your type of work, can cut your expenses to allow yourself to work fewer hours than you do currently? That simple change may be enough to relieve your stress.

If all else fails, take a deep breath and remember that you are not at work 24/7. Truly savor the time you are at home and try to take that feeling of order and comfort with you each day.

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