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A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague and asked, “Hello, how are you?” My colleague enthusiastically responded, “I’m great!”

This response caught me off guard. It was not what I expected. I was used to hearing tired and busy. To be honest that was the response I was used to replying with as well.

Have you noticed how tired and busy are becoming a common response when asked how are you doing? I understand it. Those two words rule my routines some days. How can we move past tired and busy?

It’s possible that a medical condition may be contributing to your tired. Allergies, depression, sleep apnea, low iron, thyroid issues and more can increase fatigue. If a possible health condition is causing your fatigue, extra sleep or exercise may not be the answer. A conversation with your family doctor can rule this out and help you make the changes you need personally.

Looking at your sleep health and hygiene may help reduce your tired. According to Harvard University, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nearly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended amount. When sleep is reduced or cut short our bodies don’t have time to complete what is needed and the result is that we wake up unprepared for the day.

Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are often the first line of defense to combat tired, but these common solutions may be contributing to feeling tired. Caffeine is a stimulant but can have an opposite effect. Studies show that while some energy drinks may increase alertness for several hours, participants were often more tired the following day. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia or make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is also known to increase anxiety, nervousness, stress levels, and jitteriness. Studies have shown that it is safe for most people when consumed in low to moderate amounts.

Can the way we look at things contribute to our “tired and busy”? I think so! For example,

instead of looking at a long to-do list as something you HAVE to do consider the perspective that you GET to. Look carefully at your list. What are you busy with? Sincerely, the answer to “busy” may be doing less. It is hard to slow down when there are a million things to accomplish. A long critical look at a calendar and to-do list can be influential in what to keep and what can go. A slowdown may also be the answer in the way you do things. Slowing down could mean being present, and being mindful of whatever you are doing at that moment.

In addition to examining my schedule and lifestyle, I promised myself that I would focus on a positive aspect of my life when responding to the question, “How are you?” 

I probably will be tired or busy every time someone asks me that question, but shifting my focus when responding will help me. Will you join me in responding with something besides tired or busy when asked how you are doing?  

MedlinePlus. (2019, April 30). Caffeine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

Phillips, D. T. (2016, April 27). Slow down to get ahead. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/slow-down-to-get-ahead/

Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How much sleep do we really need. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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There are varied findings on the effects of clutter in the home or workplace. According to a study published in 2011 by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, the more visual stimuli in our environment, the less we are able to focus. According to this research, an uncluttered and organized home and office will help reduce irritability and distraction.  It will also promote productivity and better information processing. Clutter can drain us of energy and interrupt some of our daily processes, like getting to work or school on time. For some, however, a messy desk can spark creativity, according to a recent study by Kathleen Vohs and colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Results from one of their experiments showed that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room.

So if your clutter doesn’t bother you or anyone else… embrace it! If it does bother someone, read on…

Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to find a bill or invitation?  Does your child frantically rush to find his backpack, shoes or library books in the final minutes before the school bus comes? Is it a challenge to coordinate your family’s many activities on a central schedule? My recent frustration with all of these scenarios led me on an organization journey for a few trouble spots in my home, namely paperwork and the family “drop spot” (where everyone dumps their belongings once inside the house).

There’s an old saying that still rings true… have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. The first part of that takes some trouble-shooting; the second part takes forming a habit to maintain the organization.

To help create a “place for everything,” I conducted an online search using terms such as ‘family command center’ and ‘family launch pad’ and collected a lot of ideas and pictures. Then I figured out where the problem spots were in my home and what organizational tool or process might help with that. With concern for saving space, time, and money, I was able to solve most of our issues by adding a few cubbies and hooks where needed.

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Putting everything in its place… ah, this is a continuing adventure, one that I’ve brought my whole family on. Sometimes we need to remind each other to put our shoes away instead of in the middle of the floor (myself included). Overall, the time and effort put into organization has made a big difference in keeping our living area more tidy.  It has also helped us in getting out the door in the morning with a little less chaos.

So if you notice clutter becoming a frustration, steps to tame it for your situation may start you on you a journey of your own.

Sources:

McMains S, Kastner S. “Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex.” Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 12;31(2):587-97. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167

Doheny, K. “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You? Get your clutter under control, and your attitude and health just may improve, too.” WebMD Feature Archive, Reviewed on June 19, 2008. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/clutter-control

Vohs, Kathleen D., Joseph P. Redden, and Ryan Rahinel. “Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity.” (2013) Psychological Science, 24 (9), 1860-1867. http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/faculty-research/facultyPM.aspx?x500=vohsx005

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

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