Superhero Self Care – Part 6

Your space affects you.

My war with the dust bunnies has reached epic proportions, and with all the holiday activities, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep up. I just cannot focus on my Good Work (i.e. Heroic Good Deeds) when the piles of paper are falling over, there’s sticky notes all over the place and three used coffee mugs sit on my desk. Clutter in front of me clutters my mind, and I need both to be clear in order to save anyone’s day, including my own.

And I’m not the only one. Studies (like this one) have shown that when your environment is cluttered, you are less able to focus. You are

before and after 2

more distracted with competing visual cues, like multiple piles of paper, and less able to process information.

Look around. What do you see?

Do you have a room, a surface, a space where you can start fresh every day? Does it uplift you when you walk in? Or do you fear going certain places or starting up your computer because the mountains of to-dos and messages make you feel anxious and overwhelmed?

Whether your superhero headquarters is made of crystal shards or is in a cave, it’s important to set up a space of your own that supports your Good Work. It can be a spare room, a desk, or even just a shelf where you keep some of the tools of your trade.

This is more than just cleaning or organization.

There are many good systems out there for getting your “stuff” organized. You can start small, set aside a weekend or hire help to get things to the level of “maintenance mode.” That’s a great goal, but it’s a big project with a lot of steps to take. Go ahead and take the first step, but I also know that…

You need a safe, supportive space, right now.

If you don’t already have a space, choose one that isn’t frequented by everyone else in your family or office (depending on where you do the majority of your Good Work).

  • Remove everything. Put it all aside for now.

  • Dust/clean the surfaces.

  • Replace only the tools that you need every day, or for that day’s Work. (Everything else can go into a box or drawer for now. Trust me.)

  • Add a few things that inspire you, like a book, figurine or favorite quote.

  • Sit with it for a few moments, and check in with your response.

How does it feel? Can you breathe easier? Focus better?

Calendar an hour in the next week to go through the box or drawer that you put the non-urgent items into. During that hour you will papers & folders into:

  • Need to do before the end of today

  • Need to do this week

  • Need to do this month

  • Reference/filing

Put only the “Need to do today” pile in your space and put the rest aside again. Then schedule time on your calendar to review those piles every week, prioritizing the new stuff and shifting everything that’s not urgent into the “month” pile. If something stays in the “month” pile for more than a few weeks, maybe you don’t need to do it at all. On the computer, you can use email folders, file folders, flags or reminders to prioritize your to-dos the same way. Then you are only working on what needs to happen “today”.

Many ‘experts’ encourage you to touch a piece of paper or an email only once. That would be great if we could always do that. But when you can’t, give yourself the space, physically and mentally, to do what you can.

Incorporate all your senses.

A friend of mine once said that whenever she needs to change her frame of mind, she vacuums. Something about it allows her to be calm and start on the next task. Personally, I have always had an association of fresh air and open space with the smell of lemon, so I use lemon juice cleaners in my work space. I also use task lighting and background music to put me in the right frame of mind. And if I’m feeling particularly anxious or have very little time to wind down, I turn on the chair massager!

Set yourself up for success.

Setting up your space is also really important for specific tasks. An excellent way to be and feel prepared for a meeting, a call or a project is to set your space up in advance. Take at least five to ten minutes to gather your notes and tools, open the necessary files, and move everything else out of the way. Then sit in your space for a few moments and think about your desired outcome. Are you looking to participate fully? Finish a project that’s been dangling over your head? Get a new client or partner? Setting a clear intention before you begin will focus your actions and your mind.

Doing your best work every day is demanding, so make it easier by creating an environment that supports the best you!

How do you set up your space? Share your ideas with our community in the comments section below.

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