The “E” in the LIGHTENTM Model for Stress Relief stands for environment. Whether it is at work, home or school, you want to make sure your environment is set up to help you succeed. So when you are working on an important project, you likely will need:
- a comfortable place to sit
- minimal interruptions, and
- understanding from those around you.
Another key element in helping you be productive is making sure that your environment is not overly cluttered to the point that it adds stress to your day. Researchers at Princeton University found that a cluttered environment makes it more difficult to focus on a specific task due to a person’s visual cortex being overwhelmed by all the task-irrelevant objects in the room. Things like unopened mail, unfiled papers and many other objects just scattered around can be very distracting.
My Dad’s last apartment was a classic example of clutter. He had junk piled up all around his place – several feet high – and a narrow walkway to get through the apartment. He was embarrassed about the condition of his home and refused help to clean it up. It wasn’t until he was moved to hospice that we were able to clean up the apartment with the help of a junk truck.
Each time I have moved homes, I take the opportunity to declutter. I find that asking myself two questions for each item helps organize for my move:
- Have I used the item in the last year?
- Does the item bring me joy or have sentimental value?
If the answer to both of those questions is no, then the item should be donated or thrown out – no exceptions. This has also worked for me when I haven’t moved but wanted to organize a room or the garage.
And once you have decluttered, you have a much easier time cleaning your environment – which further improves your health and reduces your stress.