Wellbeing at work is important, and in a freelance world, it becomes crucial. Without the crutch of sick leave to fall back on, you need to be well: your business depends on it.
But also, multiple pressures – making money, keeping clients happy, running your own show – mean the stakes are higher. You’re more vulnerable to stress.
The problem is, wellness is the kind of elusive quality you can’t fix with a probiotic shake. Sure, you can go on a breathing retreat or load your phone with soothing bedtime melodies. But this won’t guarantee the outcome that you want. In fact, the more complicated your life becomes, the more apps you’ll need to feel OK.
It’s a vicious circle, but one you can break free from by re-focusing habits. Because if you pave the way to a super-organized life, there’s no need for Tibetan sound baths or light therapy.
Instead, you make everything simpler and calmer to run, which in turn gives you more “me” time. And really, that’s what wellness is about.
Here’s how to shape up your working life for optimal organization:
Declutter Your Space
In her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Japanese guru Marie Kondo argues that our belongings weigh us down. We keep things either because of an attachment to the past (your old school yearbook) or fear of the future (those tax receipts you keep ‘just in case’). But either way, they get in the way of being in the present.
In order to think clearly, you need to rid your workspace of clutter. Clear your desk of dying plants, old pens and stained coffee cups. Ditch any paperwork you don’t need. Be ruthless about it and only keep things that, in the words of Kondo, “spark joy” (you’ll know what these are on instinct).
Digitize everything you can and then go ahead and do a digital clearout, too. Just like physical items, all those unread emails in your inbox will weigh you down. FYI: Spike helps with this process by cleaning your inbox of unnecessary clutter and bloat. The more debris you can get rid of, both in real life and virtually, the more organized you will be.
In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed at work, you need to learn how to say “no”. No to people, and no to technology overload. If you don’t hold them in check, both groups have the capacity to eat up your time and energy.
With people, be realistic about what you can manage and draw boundaries around your day. You can’t be available to all people at all times, and those around you will quickly learn if you set limits. The trick is to be clear and consistent in doing so.
With technology, minimize the notifications you receive. Most pull-to-refresh apps are designed to drain your attention – don’t stand for it. Delete anything you can, and try to focus all of your communication in one place.
For example, with Spike, you can run all your tasks, chats and group projects from your inbox. You can also use it to prioritize your messages, schedule replies ahead of time and snooze chats you don’t want to respond to straight away. All this puts you back in the driving seat of your workflow, which is great for organization.
Since email is by its nature asynchronous, there’s no pressure to reply immediately, either. Email has always come with the unwritten rule that you don’t have to get back to people straight away – and this quality places it in a different space to instant message apps. It means you can lose the “always on” mentality that is so damaging to wellbeing.
Manage Your Time Better
Once you’ve put boundaries in place around your time, you should get into the habit of using it better. One way to do this is by assigning a set time limit to everything that you do. It’s so easy to let tasks overflow into empty space, but if you’re strict, you can stop this from happening.
Work to a deadline in everything you do, even if it’s just responding to emails. If you stop to reply anytime a message comes in, you’ll use up precious minutes without realizing it. Instead, prioritize each message for a clean workflow, and block out windows of time for deleting, replying and so on.
Make sure you schedule in regular breaks, too. You should get up from your desk at least once every hour and take a 45-minute break (at minimum) over lunch. Don’t have time? Start eliminating the time wasters you never noticed before.
Spike’s many features are designed to help you find the information you need faster, while collaborating more easily and cutting out excess clutter. All this means that you can use your time in the most efficient way possible.
Work Smarter, not Harder
To be more organized, you don’t need more time in the day. Instead, you need more focus in the time that you have. You need to eliminate distractions and be precise about how you work.
It’s all in small habit changes. If you can increase your efficiency by just 1% each day, you will – slowly but surely – create the groundwork for major change. And it’ll happen in a way that doesn’t feel forced, so you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
This sets up a chain reaction of events. The more you draw boundaries and manage your time, the more organized you’ll be. And when you’re more organized, you can achieve a stronger focus in less time. Instead of feeling strung out and distracted, and working overtime to compensate, you’ll get things done more efficiently.
Where does this leave you? With more time to give to yourself. When you have the feeling of space around you, instead of scrambling to get things done, you’ll hit a natural stride.
Good organization leaves you calmer, happier and more in control. That’s wellbeing all by itself.
What’s your wellness at work secret? Let us know by Tweeting us @SpikeNowHQ.