Combat your love for possessions


Associate Professor Melissa Norberg, will be hosting a lunchtime workshop on Wednesday 9 October called ‘Declutter your life and take control of your stuff!’. Melissa will be guiding staff through tried-and-tested strategies, based on her research in the Centre for Emotional Health.

Here Melissa explains why cutting the clutter at work is good for you – and your productivity.

In any given situation, our brain attempts to selectively attend to information that will help us achieve our goals and to suppress information irrelevant to our goals. Being bombarded with a lot of irrelevant information makes it harder for us to focus our attention on what matters. Thus, for example, having a cluttered workspace or home may not only make it harder to find the information and the things we need, but it may also make it harder to complete a task.

Tackling the build up

The best way to avoid clutter is reduce how much we acquire. The second-best option is to set aside time each week to tidy up our office space. If you currently have stuff piled up in your office because your shelves, file cabinets, and cupboards are full, it might be time for a clean-out.

Depending on the level of clutter that has accumulated, you might need to set aside a few hours or a few days to get it done. Scheduling big chunks of time to declutter will be most efficient.

If you’ve set aside time to declutter, but find it difficult to part with your possessions, you may be experiencing some (or all) of the following thoughts:

  • I will feel bad if this possession goes to waste
  • I might be making a mistake if I get rid of this possession
  • I’m afraid I might later need this need possession
  • If I hang onto this possession, I might be able to give it to someone else
  • If I hang onto this possession, it will help me remember the past
  • Other people will like me if I hang onto this possession
  • Hanging onto this possession will encourage others to respect me
  • I will be able to use this possession to calm myself when anxious
  • This possession will help me be satisfied with myself

When we think about discarding our possessions, even when we no longer use them, it is common to experience thoughts and feelings that discourage us to discard. If we buy into these thoughts and/or believe that we need to avoid uncomfortable feelings, we will end up saving items that we do not need. Best case scenario, this makes it a bit hard to focus our attention. Worst case scenario, we are putting ourselves and others at risk for falls, fires, or other health hazards.

To learn two different strategies that may help you get past these barriers, come along to my lunchtime workshop, “Declutter your life and take control of your stuff!” on Wednesday, 9 October from 12-12.30pm. As this is a learn-by-doing workshop, you’ll need to bring along 10 possessions that have limited or no monetary value, are not currently in use, and are items that for whatever reason you have saved, despite believing that most other people would have thrown these items away.

Register for the decluttering workshop on the Staff Wellbeing Month website.

Other upcoming seminar topics include how to incorporate exercise into your routine, managing anxiety, mindfulness, and helping children overcoming fear and worry.

All Wellbeing Month seminar attendees have the chance to go in the draw for a great range of prizes.





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