If you're reading this, you are probably looking for a way to improve the way your work life works. Who doesn't want that? One way is to throw out unnecessary papers, sure; but I'd like to suggest something a little more radical (and more impactful) with the following five tips that will clear out your world by making your workplace a happier and more interpersonally positive place to be. Because, of all forms of clutter, it's the emotional clutter--the drama and negativity--that is the most distracting and life-complicating.
As summer vacation comes and goes, it's an opportunity to get away from our work space for a while. When you walk back in to yours, take a fresh look at it, not just the desk and the shelves but, crucially, the people you surround yourself with, and how you organize your time with them.
It's a little like going into your closet and getting rid of things you haven't worn in a few years. Here are some mental messages that will help you declutter your brain so there's room for the good stuff.
1. Self-protective and antisocial thoughts: Sweep them out!
It's perfectly natural to worry about your turf, your ideas, and your position in the world. Of course you don't want to give away all your successful techniques and habits. But if you do, you will find that you have gained, not lost, in the exchange.
I have a not-so-secret recipe, and it involves banishing those fears in favor of helping other people be Greater Than Yourself. Take a deep breath every morning, and promise yourself you will take on the challenge to change your world for the better and elevate the people around you. Let all the fears and excuses out when you exhale. Lose 10 pounds of ugly self-doubt without exercising!
2. Time: Spend it the way you spend money.
Shop around and get yourself something shiny and new: in this case a connection (or several). Don't get complacent about your circle of associates; reach out through networking groups or start your own. Make a resolution to invest some time in a real, substantive conversation with one new person every week, for instance, and then incorporate that new relationship into your life.
3. Giving: Make philanthropy a smaller big idea in your life.
You don't have $1 million to get a hospital wing named after you. So what? Declutter your life while you improve the quality of someone else's. Bring healthy snacks or fresh flowers to an informal meeting, when nobody expects you to. Have $2 on you when you go downtown, to buy a paper from a homeless person or a coffee for a soccer parent shivering in the local park. Give books and magazines to a broke younger colleague when you're done with them. Donate some of your professional clothes to a charity that helps people trying to get their first jobs.
4. Inclusiveness: Make it fit into every plan you make.
Fit giving into every line of your to-do list. A new project, a new hire, a company outing, a personal sales goal: there's room for a giving element in all of them. Include the outsider, build in charity work and volunteering time for you and your staff, structure work relationships to accommodate mentoring and teaching.
5. Scheduling: Compress your kindness into a regular item on your calendar.
Make other people your top priority every day, but choose one day in particular to focus on it. The Greater Good website suggests you choose five "acts of kindness" and do them all in a row, on a chosen day each week, because the net joy you'll experience is stronger and greater for you when you do several kind things together.