Workplace Detox – A Cleansing Experience

Working from home means I connect often with others via Zoom video conferencing. Because my desk and computer are in my home office, which is a converted bedroom with closet, the backdrop behind me is the closet. And it is not very presentable to the other professionals on the call. In fact, it is pretty tacky! So I finally got fed up and decided to do something about it. And you know what happens when you start a project, don’t you? It becomes overwhelming, and it is tough to take the first steps.

But I was so embarrassed over how unprofessional I looked on video that I was humiliated into taking that first step to detox my workspace for public viewing. I also realized that when you live or work in a space that feels confining, cluttered, disorganized, overwhelming, dreary (pick a word that describes your work or home environment), then it becomes toxic to your body, mind and soul.

Consider the effect on your health.

Mess Equals Stress

In one study, women who saw their homes as cluttered had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day, while those who described their abode as a well-organized, restful space had lower levels.

Cortisol’s failure to decline normally over the course of the day has “been associated with greater chronic stress, disease progression, and even mortality risk.”

Your Mind Wanders

It’s hard to focus on important tasks when several things compete for your attention. Researchers have found that being around disorganization makes it harder for your brain to focus.

Unhealthy Eating

A study in Psychological Science found that participants in an orderly environment chose healthier snacks than those in a cluttered environment.

Consider the effect on your level of productivity.

Less Efficient Visual Processing

You’ll be less accurate in figuring out how other people are really feeling when you’re seeing them amidst a clutter-filled room.

Less Efficient Thinking

Mental clutter is one of the prime suspects in the cause of age-related memory loss. If you’re unable to get through the material clogging up your neural networks, you’ll be slower and less efficient in processing information.

Clutter prevents you from getting promoted.

A CareerBuilder study found that 28% of employers are less likely to promote someone with a messy workspace.

Consider the benefit of decluttering on society.

You get rid of things that you don’t need.

Someone who gets your stuff might really want it or benefit from it.

Donating your stuff to the Goodwill, for instance, provides jobs for people with disabilities and generates income to keep the programs running.

You get a good feeling about how you can help others, which makes it easier to let go of what is bogging you down!

So how do you begin the process of decluttering and detoxing?

1. Commit to making the change.

You may need to “get ready” to “get ready” to make the change. It is all a process, so if you start imagining it in your mind first and see how that feels, you are more apt to commit to doing it in the real world. And don’t forget to schedule it on your calendar!

2. Take baby steps with attainable goals.

Start small. The first baby step I took in my office was to turn my small file cabinet that sits within reach a quarter turn, and just that small move visually felt like I had more space, and the energy of the room seemed to flow better. (Feng Shui anyone?

3. Prioritize the areas that you want to conquer first.

For me, it was just trying to block out the view of my closet in the background when I was seen on a video conference call. So I hung up a decorative piece of fabric with tacks, and it looked 80% better. Then I moved a book cabinet out of view and moved in a nice narrow chest and put a stained glass shaded lamp on it, turned on the light, and I was done. The background looked great, and it took only a total of 60 minutes to complete the process. Amazing transformation is such a short period of time, instead of complaining every day for the past year.

4. Schedule daily/weekly/monthly organizing tasks.

Since I accomplished my goal about a month ago, I like it so much I catch myself straightening up my desk area every day so it continues to look neat and orderly. I never would have done that before because my former workspace always generated negative energy, and I just didn’t care if it was neat or not.

5. Get your workmates or whole family on board.

At my last position working for a healthcare institution, we would have an annual declutter and purge day and would block out one full day so everyone could clean up their “cubes” as well as all the common areas. It was actually a very fun day, and then we would have a potluck and celebrate. Yes – decluttering can be fun and generate positive energy and relationships as well!

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire help.

A good first step here is to find out how much it would cost to hire someone to help you with a decluttering project. It may be less than you think, and you could frame it as a “health gift for you.” Or even ask your family or friends to give you this gift for your birthday!

7. Don’t give up — the situation didn’t happen overnight.

Face facts. All the decluttering you might do can all return once again. Pay attention to the signs that things are piling up again, and act on them right away so you don’t end up back where you started. This is a life-long process, and you need to treat it just like building any other habit. Keep practicing until it becomes an automatic response.

8. Reward yourself for your successes.

My biggest reward was feeling better about being in my office because it made me smile. Plus, when I was on a video conference call with my wellness team, they all agreed that my environment looked much more professional, and they each decided they might need to up their game, too. That is enough reward for me.

I admit that now that the deed is done, the clutter is removed, the background scenery is simpler and less distracting, I feel so much better, just like feeling “cleansed”.

So what cleansing are you willing to do to let the sunshine into your environment?

About the Author:

Carol Ebert

Carol Ebert is an experienced and successful wellness practitioner, healthy lifestyle coach and role model for what healthy aging looks like. She is a passionate promoter of people’s potential and inspires people to work creatively through life’s roadblocks to reach their highest goals and realize their dreams using the tools from her book “Too Busy for YOU? How to Prioritize Yourself for a Balanced, Mindful and Happy Life.”

1 Comment
  1. PEGGY PAUL 3 years ago

    This is an awesome blog Carol – I appreciate how you explained how my workspace ties to my overall well-being. Makes sense to me! Thank you! Off I go to detox my office… 🙂

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