Take Control of Your Overwhelmed Workspace

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are three steps to taking back control of your space.

A jammed email in-box, overbooked calendar and cluttered desktop will make even the most energetic person feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

This happens when you try to do more and be more than is realistically possible. I have been trying to conquer that habit for years. I have good news, though, even if you’re like me and tend to take on too much, you can still pause and re-start at any time.



Here is what I do when things begin to feel overwhelming in my workspace:

If I need to, I can be creative with my laptop on top of a pile of dirty dishes and unpaid bills, but that is not my preferred way of working. The best thing I ever did for myself was to begin cleaning off my desk about 30 minutes before leaving my workspace every day. Occasionally, things can still get chaotic. When this happens, here is how I gain control quickly:


FIRST: Clear The Clutter and Organize. I begin with old-fashioned in-boxes. The paper on my desk is not clutter. It’s a pile of action items that I have been too busy to take care of. I begin by sorting these important tasks into categories of to do, to read, to call, etc. Then, I schedule time on my calendar to process all of these tasks.


NEXT: I Clean Up The Space. A cluttered space means I haven't had time to keep my environment organized. When things are normal, I take a few minutes every day to dust, de-clutter, and straighten the space. Setting aside just a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day will keep things from getting out-of-control.


My third and most important tip for you today is to Set Clear and Consistent Boundaries for yourself. The reason we feel overwhelmed and chaotic is because we overbook ourselves or because we let others intrude on our time. I get it, this is easier to talk about than it is to implement. Be aware that distractions and drama can be a clever way to sabotage yourself from doing your most important work.


Even if you have been distracted or procrastinating for years, the best thing you can do right now is to make a decision that you’re going to put your work as a priority. Then—respect your decision. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted by distractions or interruptions. If you find yourself off track, get right back on. This isn't something that you’ll master immediately, it’s a process, but once you create this habit of setting personal and professional boundaries, the people around you will begin to respect your need to work, and they may begin to model your behavior as well.

Remember—how you are in life and business is a model for others, so stay out of overwhelm and keep being influential.



Beth Caldwell is the author of more than ten books on leadership, inspiration, and personal development. She believes that women CAN do it all, just not at the same time. She is the founder and creator of the SHIFT Program and Leadership Academy for Women. She is the former host of the popular WebTV Show Smart Leadership and currently hosts a motivational weekly broadcast called Monday Morning Mastermind.

Beth spent four years teaching with the Steve Harvey Success Institute on the topics of leadership, time management, and personal success. She’s received the Pittsburgh Magazine “40 Under 40” award for being an innovative young leader and was recently honored with the Woman of Courage award. Learn more about the next Leadership Academy for Women here. 

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