After being out of my office for a couple weeks, today was the first moment I was back in for a couple “office hours.” Despite the fact that my to-do list is a mile long, my top priority was getting my train-wreck of an office a little more organized before I dove head first into that to-do list. For some reason, having a sense of control over the office was better for my stress levels than knocking a few things off that list.
This reminded me of some info I heard on stress management while listening to an excellent RadioLab podcast on Stress. One piece on stressed out rats mentioned that rats subjected to a stressor (electric shocks) had a reduced stress response if they could:
a. bite another rat (i.e. kick the dog)
b. gnaw on a block of wood (chewing reduced stress, interesting….)
c. have a warning before hand (predictability and being able to brace yourself)
c. push a button that was supposed to make the shocks stop (i.e. exert some control over the situation)
Cleaning my office versus just working away is a good example of the stress reduction we experience from a sense of having control over the situation. I put writing the to-do list in the first place in that same category as well. Just getting organized and creating a plan of attack is helpful for reducing stress levels. I’m glad I chose this instead of biting a co-worker. :)
Do you experience the same response to being organized? What organization tips do you use to keep stress at bay?