Technology has changed the way we work and relax. It’s important to recognize just how much it has impacted our lives.
We are constantly bombarded by information and stimulation and it is taking its toll on our brains. Meanwhile, the expectations placed on us by our work have only increased as a result of greater productivity tools and enhanced connectivity.
The problem? We’re having a hard time keeping up with all this change!
And it’s leading to burnout.
For a great number of us, the demands placed on us are simply too great for us to shoulder. The constant stimulation and constant bombardment of information is leading to burnout. And knowing how to get what we want from life is seemingly impossible.
Our brains evolved in entirely different environments and they simply aren’t designed to thrive under these conditions. The result is what we call ‘overwhelm’. That means too much information, too much pressure, too much to do and too little time. We end up stressed, exhausted and disorganized and it’s just not good for our health.
Most of us simply have too much to do, we are too ‘wired’ and we are too bombarded with information, decisions and more. Approximately half of us are burned out because we’re trying to do too much and because we’re struggling just to keep afloat. The irony is that we actually end up achieving less the more we try and squeeze in and as such, we can never get ahead.
But there is an answer and there are ways around these problems.
The secret is organization.
It might sound like a small thing but staying organized is actually everything in today’s environment. By staying organized and keeping on top of all that information, those huge to-do lists and your calendar, you can take each challenge one step at a time.
Too many decisions
A great place to start is to remove those difficult decisions that are taking up our ‘mental bandwidth’.
Many of us think that the big ‘limit’ on our ability to get things done is time. We all make the excuse that we don’t exercise because we don’t have time and that we don’t do more with the family because we don’t have time.
You don’t have any problem with time. Your problem is with energy. The reason you’re not using that available time more efficiently, or even to have fun is that you’re low on energy.
Energy management then is actually much more important than time management very often. And a BIG component of energy management is to understand the impact that decision making has on our energy levels.
Every time you have to make a decision, this takes a toll on your energy levels and leaves you with a little less energy to ‘spend’ on other tasks.
For instance, when you wake up in the morning and decide what you’re going to wear, that will not only take up time but it will also take up energy. Likewise, when you decide what to have for lunch, you’ll also be using up your mental energy to make that decision.
And this then means that you have less energy when it comes to making other, more important decisions. When someone asks you what to do at work, or when you’re wondering how best to save your money, you now have less mental energy available to dedicate to that decision. By the end of the day, you burn out!
How to reduce decisions
So what’s the solution? There are a number of things you can do but one of the most important steps is simply to reduce the number of decisions that you’re forced to make in a day.
This is actually something that Steve Jobs is famous for doing. Jobs apparently decided he wanted to reduce the number of trivial decisions he had to make in his life and so he removed all variation from his clothing. He replaced all of his items of clothing with just black t-shirts and jeans. That meant that every single morning, he would put on his one outfit and never need to worry about what he was going to wear!
While you might not want to go as far as Jobs with it, there are nevertheless effective ways you can reduce the decision making surrounding your choice of outfits. One of the easiest ways to do this is just to plan your outfits in advance so that you have all of those items ready to go. You can even write this out on Sunday evening so you can refer to that plan.
Another solution then is simply to have, say, 20 outfits for work that you know you like and that you know are suitable. Now, you can simply refer to any of those 20 in the morning without too much thought.
I finally got around to doing this organizational task and it has reduced my morning stress considerably!
While you might not want to keep your outfits the exact same every day, you might well be more inclined to keep your food consistent for breakfast and lunch.
These meals aren’t exactly ‘exciting’ in the first place. So why not have the same cereal and toast for breakfast each day and the same salad bar/lunch box for lunch. This reduces waste too, makes shopping much easier and also makes it considerably easier to monitor your calorie intake if you’re dieting.
As for dinner, this is something else you can plan at the start of the week. And it works even better if you can also prepare some meals – cook something big on Sunday and you can put some Tupperware boxes in the fridge for lazy evenings. Now you can simply heat those meals up in the evening instead of throwing a pizza in the oven.
Organizing your home
The next thing to do is to tidy your home. This is crucial because a tidy home is a reflection of a tidy mind. More than that though, it can also create a tidy mind and here the correlation becomes ‘two way’.
Not only does a tidy home make it easier to find things, thereby saving time and stress as you’re no longer hunting for keys, but it also makes your space that much easier to relax in. Our brains actually crave order and organization and this is why we find things like tilted picture frames so distressing.
One of the single most important things you can do to make your home tidier and easier to get around is to get ruthless and to start throwing things out.
This sounds ruthless and at first you might object to the idea of parting with your possessions. Actually though, reducing your items can make your home considerably less stressful and help you to stay on top of your chores a lot more easily.
A good place to start is with your ornaments and knick-knacks. Go through all the things you have on display on your sides and throw out half of those items – or at least put them away somewhere.
By doing this, you have now created a much more minimal space, which is immediately going to feel less stressful to spend time in. At the same time though, you’ve also created less work for yourself – you now have surfaces you can very easily clean by wiping a cloth around instead of needing to first remove all your items individually.
And on top of all that, you have actually increase the average quality of the things on display. What’s left behind will now be only your very favorite things. That means that those favorite items will get much more attention and focus, versus all those other things that were detracting from them.
Another way to be more ruthless is to find all the boxes under your bed and on your wardrobe that you haven’t been in for the last 6 months. Remove anything valuable or sentimental and throw the rest out. If you haven’t used it in all this time, then you don’t need it!
What you’ll find is that you surprisingly don’t miss any of those items and if you find that you suddenly need a mini torch, or whatever else it was, then you can simply buy a new one!
Just taking a few steps like those above can make you feel calmer, more in control of your life, with a more relaxed brain. Try it!