Take a walk in the woods or stroll through an art museum and you will instantly be aware of the color that surrounds you. What you may not be aware of is your mind and body responding to the color on a sub-conscious level.
Chromotherapy, or color therapy, is used in many parts of the world as a means for reaching a person’s psyche for better health and well-being. This type of therapy is not without debate, but when you consider the importance color plays in nature, you can see where we might want to discuss the matter further.
Surrounding ourselves with a variety of colors, in what we wear and in our home, is believed by many to have a very real impact on our state of mind. It is not considered a coincidence that a woman wearing red feels more power and vigor, while a woman dressed in blue exudes peace and tranquility.
Your home office is the perfect place to experiment with the effect color can have on stress, mood, and energy. Let’s take a look at the kind of struggles you face in your home office and how color might be able to switch things around a bit.
If you are sitting in your home office hour after hour, staring out the window because you simply can’t get a spark going to get anything done, your energy level needs a boost.
Red and orange are definitely colors that will set your mood on fire. Lethargy, tiredness, and just plain sluggishness won’t last long when surrounded by these passionate colors. Use these powerful colors as accents so they don’t overwhelm you and make you nervous instead of energized.
When your mind is racing, your heart is pounding, and you find yourself pacing instead of working, anxiety is in over-drive. This is often a result of stress and possibly fear.
Calming, quiet blues and greens are the colors for you. These colors create what you might think of as a cool hand on your forehead. You can include a very soft pink to help balance your energies. Blue, green, and soft pink; are you thinking of a calm ocean sunset? That’s the idea.
Sometimes we get so involved in multi-tasking that our focus suffers. This situation causes stress, but relieving the stress is secondary to regaining focus. We want to fix the problem first; and the problem is lack of focus.
Clean, crisp, fresh white helps restore clarity of thought. Include the color violet to renew wisdom and strength to help guide you through your work and keep you on task.
If your every thought seems to turn negative for no reason, and you can’t talk yourself out of this downward spiral, perhaps a dose of color to lift your mood would help. Depending on where the sadness is coming from, colors could affect your mood in different ways.
Yellow is a cheerful color and can create a more positive feeling. Orange is another color that invigorates the psyche, helping to perk up the mood. Pink can be used in this instance as a way to balance negative energies with positive energies so one doesn’t dominate.
Stress is caused by many factors, both internal and external. Losing focus, having negative thoughts, feeling tired and lethargic, and feeling anxious to the point of serious distraction, are things we may have to face as we try to accomplish our work. Dealing with these issues in a proactive manner is the first step to creating a real solution. Consider using color as one tool to help alleviate these moods. It’s easy to do and well worth a try.
How many times have you walked into your home office only to cringe, turn around, and walk out? If you spend more time thinking up reasons to avoid your office than actually working in it, you may be suffering from ‘mess related stress.’
The fact is, clutter is more than a time and space waster; clutter causes stress. Let’s take a look at the typical home office hot-spots and learn a few tricks for clearing the clutter to create more calm.
Whether you have a huge antique roll top desk, a modern massive executive desk, or a tiny computer cart, your desk is going to be the repository for a lot of stuff.
Much like a closet, the bigger the desk, the bigger the mess. Purchasing a larger desk will not solve the clutter problem. However, organizing the space you have available on your desk will definitely help.
Start de-cluttering your desk by making a clean sweep of the top, cubbies, and drawers. All that should remain is the hardware, such as the computer, printer, etc. Once you can see your desk’s surfaces, the mess that should jump out at you first is the tangle of cords. Even though electrical and computer cords don’t exactly infringe on your workspace, the visual impact most certainly will stress your brain. Clear this mess by corralling those cords in simple cardboard or foam tubes and get them out of sight.
Now that you have a clear surface and neatly tucked away cords, set up a few containers for those items that you always need. You’ll probably want small bins or cups to hold pens, pencils, and notepads. However, your needs may include paper-clips, staplers, tape, rulers, and calculators. The idea is to only have on your desk what you need to work, and to have those items stored in handy containers.
You will want a nice big clear area on your desk to actually work on the project you have at the moment. Therefore, rather than pile your desk high with an entire week’s worth of work, choose another area close by to hold the papers, books, journals, or other bulky items you’ll need later.
That brings us to the most common home office clutter monster – papers. This includes projects, notes, mail, and all that paperwork we just can’t seem to get rid of. There are, however, ways to tame even this monster.
As mentioned, you want to remove the pile of papers from your immediate work area, most likely your desk. In order to have a good work space available on your desk, the paper has to go somewhere else. But, there’s more to de-cluttering than just moving papers around.
We all have paper to handle every day. We take notes, we get mail, we save receipts – the list is endless, just like the paper. If you tend to toss every piece of paper into the In-Box in your office, perhaps it’s time to stop treating all paperwork equally.
To set up a system for paperwork that doesn’t just become another pile, you will need to divide your office’s In-Box into categories. For example, set up three boxes and title them “Immediate,” “Tomorrow,” and “File.” Anything you have to handle before you move onto another task goes into the “Immediate” box. Something that is not as time-sensitive, but needs to be checked again tomorrow, obviously goes into the “Tomorrow” box, and things that don’t need any further consideration can simply go into the “File” box to be stored when you have time. Of course, you will really have a fourth box – the trash can – to complete your paperwork system.
If you use this method, remember to keep the papers moving daily, and clean out the filed papers on a routine basis, which brings us to the next area where clutter often reigns – the file.
Even the best file cabinet or closet fills up when left unattended. You may think “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to this clutter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Knowing you have mountains of clutter lurking behind closed doors is enough to cause ‘mess stress.’ You don’t have to see it every minute of every day to feel that stress gnawing at you.
Start clearing the stored stuff out of your files, shelves, and closets by first finding out what you actually need to keep. There are good lists available on many websites, including the IRS. Use these guidelines to begin purging documents that are no longer needed for tax or estate purposes.
Now you can begin digging into those items that are no longer relevant. You may find old manuals for equipment you don’t have, or receipts for items way past the point of return. Many of these items have simply been forgotten. You may even find boxes and packing materials for items you have no intention of ever shipping anywhere. It’s time to discard those “some day we may need these” items.
Discarding old paycheck stubs, receipts, and empty boxes is pretty painless. But, the next step can be a bit more difficult. This is the area you dread most – the emotional things.
These are the crafts you started, magazines you saved, and other items you kept because you loved something about them. Maybe it’s a book or magazine with decorating ideas or recipes you wanted to try. It may be a story you saved to read later. Perhaps there are pictures to be framed or cards to be stamped. The point is, there are projects lost in a pile and it’s a difficult thing to deal with.
The easiest method for clearing the stuff you are emotionally attached to is to get rid of the extras. For example, take pictures or scan those craft ideas and recipes and download them to files on your computer, then toss the magazines. Go through all your projects and purge items you no longer need or want. Any school or daycare would be happy to take your extra ribbon, fabric paint, glitter, card stock, stamps, and whatnot.
If after clearing out the extras you are still faced with piles of projects, consider making a small investment in some inexpensive shelving to neatly house your crafting projects. This simple storage solution can go a long way to de-cluttering, and de-stressing.
Now that you have your desk cleaned off, your paperwork moving smoothly from start to finish, your filed items purged, and your projects reduced and neatly arranged, it’s time to sit down and get some work done. What a relief to finally be rid of that creeping clutter. Enjoy your ‘mess-less stress-less’ home office!
As you’ve probably discovered, your work can trigger all kinds of stress reactions. From minor annoyances to heart attacks, on-the-job stress is a major cause of many mental and physical ailments. Are you suffering the consequences of workplace stress?
Consider these questions:
- Do you find yourself feeling annoyed with your supervisor or co-workers?
- Have you been looking for excuses to be late to work or to stay home occasionally?
- Do you get a stomach ache or headache within an hour after getting to work?
- Are you having trouble focusing on a work project because your emotions are wrought up over a work incident?
If you answered “Yes” to any one of these questions, you’re probably experiencing job-related stress. The good news is: if you’re proactive about managing your work stress level, you’ll feel less wound up and enjoy more success at work.
Try these strategies to deal with job stress:
- Remind yourself, “it’s just work.” There will be times you’ll have a difference of opinion with your boss or co-workers. Consider it creative disagreement and move on.
- Learn to recognize the things you control at the office. By the same token, let go of the things you’re not able to control. Your work life will become much lighter and brighter when you acknowledge both of these issues.
- Work through “resolvable” issues immediately. Rather than let issues fester and grow, if it’s within your power to negotiate a resolution, do it as soon as you can.
- When you feel overwhelmed, ask for assistance or guidance. Everyone occasionally experiences work struggles. In nearly every situation, it’s appropriate to ask for help at work.
- Establish your work priorities; then methodically work to complete your projects. List your tasks in order of priority. Start at the top of the list and work down, crossing off tasks as you go.
- If you have any questions whatsoever about which task or project is more important to complete first, proceed directly to your supervisor and ask. Avoid excess job stress by seeking guidance if you need it.
- Silently review all the reasons you do the work you do. Re-connect emotionally with all the positives you love about work. These realities about your career are far more important than the things that stress you.
- Vow to avoid drama at work. Refrain from allowing yourself to generate too many feelings about work. After all, it’s business. It’s best to use tact, neutrality, and diplomacy when dealing with co-workers. Your chances of experiencing work stress will be vastly reduced.
- Take a brisk 15 minute walk when you get home. There’s nothing like a walk to clear out the stress from your work day. Tell yourself that by the time you get back home, you’ll be thinking about what you’ll have for dinner. Walking after work is a great habit to develop for so many reasons.
- Use visual imagery techniques to let go of minor annoyances and frustrations. Imagine your stress is a big red ball. You throw it into the ocean and watch it bob away on the waves. Say “good-bye” as the ball is completely submerged far in the distance.
- Soothe yourself after you arrive home. Snuggle up in your blanket on the sofa and read your novel for a bit. Call your brother or a friend to chat. When you soothe yourself, you’re showing you know how to take care of your own troublesome feelings.
- Journal your feelings about work. When you write down your irritations and sources of stress, you can psychologically release the negative feelings you experience.
- Practice yoga or meditation to de-stress. The eastern philosophies of yoga and meditation soothe the souls of millions of people the world over. You’ll be surprised at how effective these methods are at eliminating your stress and keeping you more centered and relaxed.
Work stress is an unfortunate result of the human condition. Everyone deals with it from time to time. Practice these methods to remain optimistic and keep your work stress at manageable levels. You’ll re-discover the passion you have for your career!
Meeting deadlines is an important requirement for many jobs. Impress others by delivering results on time, and protect your peace of mind by staying cool under pressure. How about some suggestions to keep you on schedule with routine tasks and special challenges?
Strategies to Use Anytime
1. Break it down. Divide bigger tasks into smaller steps. If you’re in charge of moving your office to a new location, take into account everything you’ll need to cover, from hiring a moving company to ordering new business cards.
2. Budget your time. There’s a widespread tendency to underestimate how long things will take. Use past experiences as your guide. Anticipate that obstacles are bound to arise and allow extra time to deal with those situations.
3. Let go of perfectionism. Save your best efforts for when they’ll create the most impact. Sometimes you’ll have to go all out and sometimes you can accept something just being good enough. For example, as long as you can find everything in your filing cabinet, you can probably survive without color coding all your files.
4. Get moving. It’s easier to stay in motion than to keep stopping and restarting. Start gathering statistics for an upcoming report now and you’ll be a step ahead.
5. Take a break. On the other hand, you also require adequate rest. Pause during a busy afternoon to take a few full breaths. Sit down with a cup of tea for ten minutes and clear your mind.
6. Know your limits. It’s better to decline assignments graciously rather than taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed. Others will appreciate your honesty and you’ll be more productive.
7. Ask for help. Reach out to others when you require support. Asking for help makes you smart, rather than weak. Also, remember to be generous and assist others when you have the chance.
8. Develop a system. Design a calendar that enables you to see all your deadlines at a glance. Tackle routine tasks in bunches and it may go quicker for you.
9. Deal with stress. Dissolve tension by listening to a symphony or taking a walk in the park. Be good to your mind, body and soul.
Strategies to Use in Special Circumstances
1. Impose your own deadlines. Maybe you work for yourself or your supervisor takes a hands-off approach. Set intermediate and final targets.
2. Overcome procrastination. Figure out the reasons why you tend to put things off and apply practical solutions. Perfectionism is often at the root of procrastination.
3. Be honest with your co-workers. If a colleague is stalling your progress, it’s usually best to discuss the issue directly with them. Work together to clarify instructions or access extra resources.
4. Manage extensions. It’s easy to slack off when a deadline is pushed back. Think strategically about how to maximize the opportunity.
5. Recover quickly from missed deadlines. Only in extreme circumstances, like a hurricane or medical emergency, is it reasonable to let a deadline go out the window. Apologize sincerely, present a revised plan of action for resolving the situation, and set a new deadline.
6. Create a favorable setting. If you thrive on having some background noise, take your laptop to a coffee shop and catch up on your correspondence for the week. When silence is golden to you, shut your office door or play soft music to drown out sounds from the hallway.
7. Negotiate for more time. At times, everyone may agree that they’re better off adjusting the time frame. Take quality into account and realize it isn’t all about the time.
Skillful time management and teamwork will help you perform better when deadlines loom. Put these techniques into action to become more prompt and poised.