Category: Wellbeing

Let’s Get Organized! A Key Strategy to Stress Management

Written by Aliza Sklar

When it comes to neatness and order, some have an easier time than others. There are those who are seemingly born with an urge to clean everything they see, and there are others who insist that there is logic to the tumult, and it is only through the clutter that they work effectively.

There is something to say for both of these methods. A recent study in Psychological Science, found that those who worked in an orderly room did more socially responsible, “good” things, including choosing healthier snacks and giving money to charity. Participants working in a messy room, however, were more likely to try new things and develop more creative ideas.

Geniuses such as Albert Einstein, and creative minds such as Roald Dahl, thrived in the messiness of piled papers and hard-to-reach desks. However, for the average person, having a clean workspace can be a huge step to working efficiently and making your boss happy.

Stress tends to seep in where there is a lot of clutter. Messes can distract your attention, keeping you constantly multitasking and not fully completing each task to the best of your ability. Clutter can also be overwhelming, and lead our brains to believe that the work is never complete. Not to mention how frustrating it is when something important goes missing, only to be found buried under a pile of papers two hours after the report was due.

But it is possible to change the cycle, relieve the chaos, and reintroduce calm into your workday. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

A) Stop multi-tasking! (See my previous blogpost for tricks and tips)

B) When you are given an assignment, take care of it as soon as you can! If you push things off, allowing more and more work to pile up, it will be harder and harder to keep things neat and organized.

C) As soon as one task is completed, throw out, shred, or archive the leftover instructions and materials. Don’t leave things hanging around once they are taken care of.

D) At the end of the day, make sure your desk is clean. This will start off your next day right, on a cleaner, and more organized foot.

These changes may not happen overnight, but even just beginning with one or two of the above tips can prove fruitful to reducing your stress. Especially if you’re someone whose desk hasn’t seen the light of day in a while, following the above steps can lead to greater calm, and with that greater productivity and enhanced satisfaction for you as well your co-workers. Try it- you may be surprised 🙂

Multitasking – Pathway to Productivity or Method of Madness?

Written by Aliza Sklar

Being the Office Manager at the Center for Anxiety means completing many many (many) tasks – both big and small. As such, I’ve wondered lately: does multi-tasking really help to get the job(s) done faster?

For some, multi-tasking may seem to help accomplish much in a short amount of time. For others, it may also help keep things interesting; there’s no room for boredom when one is involved in many tasks, switching between them at a rapid clip. However, any honest multi-tasker must ask him or herself: though it seems that a great quantity of work has been accomplished, is there any quality sacrificed when tasks are attempted two or more at a time?

As people multitask, their ability to do each task well decreases since it takes time for our brains to switch between one task and another. This is particularly the case for complex/ unfamiliar tasks. Furthermore, while the amount of time it can take to switch between two tasks may be less than a second, recent research suggests that in individuals who frequently shift their attention, those blocks can add up to as much as 40% of productive time! Not to mention – multitasking also increases the probability of errors in one’s work, which cost additional time to correct.

So, as disappointing as it may be, when it comes down to it multi-tasking is actually counter-productive! The next time you think you are acting efficiently as you send an email while live chatting with the Staples rep while speaking to AppleCare on the phone, keep in mind that the less you do at once, the better. But what’s a chronic multi-tasker to do???

Here are three practical tips to avoid multi-tasking and still get it all done (number 2 is a favorite of mine).
1) Switch tasks in 20-minute increments. For those of you who just can’t work on one project for hours and hours, focusing on one job for bigger increments of time will get you further than spending just 5-10 minutes (or seconds) on each task before moving on.

2) Make a list of the tasks you have to accomplish. Having all the assignments down in front of you helps you to stay organized and keep on top of everything. Every time a new job comes up, take a moment to jot it down – but remember to stay focused on your task at hand, confident that you’ll remember to do the next item later. It’s also fun to check off each item as you complete it!

3) Keep your desk organized (a topic for another blogpost…) The less distractions you have in front of you, the more likely you will be to finish each item on your list.

Workplace Stress

Written by Debra Alper

Many of us pride ourselves on having a strong work ethic, seeking new challenges and opportunities at work and actively looking for ways to advance in our careers. However, if our physical and mental health begin to suffer, or our relationships bear the burden of our mounting stress, it is time to honestly assess the toll that workplace stress is having on our lives.

According to a 2007 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), three-quarters of Americans list work as a significant stressor, and more than 50% report that stress negatively impacts their productivity. The link between stress and physical health has long been documented, with headaches, fatigue, and stomach ailments among the most common somatic complaints. Less frequently reported, but just as pressing, are the effects stress has on our mental health. Irritability, anger, diminished concentration, and lack of motivation are just a few of the nasty effects of an overload of stress.

In today’s work climate, dialing down stress may seem harder than ever. With email and cell phones providing non-stop access to work, how is one to cope???

Here are a few tips:

1) Institute tech-free times!
While it may make you more productive, being able to access your work 24 hours a day definitely has its drawbacks. Namely, the sanctity of home time can be eroded. Though many of us can’t go off the grid completely every night, it’s wise to institute some boundaries. Carving out some time when all tech is off limits (e.g., during dinner time) will enable you to be more present in your leisure time, as well as more attentive to your work when you return to it.

2) Take breaks
Giving yourself short breaks throughout the day to stretch, take a quick walk, or interact with others has been shown to decrease tension, and can actually make you more efficient at your work. Resist the urge to work through lunch!

3) Self care
Unfortunately, self care behaviors such as exercising, eating and sleeping enough are often the first to go when work demands increase. The opposite should be true! Research shows without a doubt, maintaining a healthy physical state protects your mental health and allows you to be maximally productive. So prioritize those self care activities for yourself and for your work!

4) Ask for help
Finally, if tips like the ones above are not enough to keep stress at bay, you may wish to seek help from a mental health professional. Seeking help when you need it from those who trained to provide it can go a long way toward managing stress.