De-clutter Your Workspace!

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OTs are notorious pack rats

We are two weeks into the New Year. When the calendar rolls over, many people make resolutions.

We all know the standard resolutions: lose weight, eat better, exercise and get organized. The last resolution has hit me pretty hard recently as my family is remodeling, and a good portion of our home needed to be cleared out. There had been been 20 years’ worth of things that I had to part with. I found that I was having a really hard time parting with them, and I couldn’t figure out why. I decided to do some research about other people and how they handle this.

When I did my research I found out I am not alone. After reading a few articles, it turns out that there might be an emotional attachment to the things I’ve held onto or fear of getting rid of an item, causing “remorse syndrome.” The one common thread in all of the articles was that too much stuff is not good for you. It clutters your mind and makes being productive difficult. It even causes some people to become so depressed about the amount of things they have that they avoid certain parts of their homes.

I decided to explore this with my co-workers. Everyone in the department agreed that they have things that they didn’t want to part with as well. In a way it made me feel better, kind of like watching that show about hoarders on TV when you think your house is messy.

A few of us in the department started to brainstorm and think of ways that perhaps we as clinicians can carry over this clean-up into our clinic and our personal workspaces. If any of these sound familiar, be assured that you are in good company. I found out that OTs are notorious pack rats.

Here are some “pack rat issues” we found in our clinic and what we will be trying to do to “de-clutter” our space and ease our “pack rat blues”.

• Save every piece of equipment. Even if it is broken or missing pieces, we think that we may be able to harvest something from it, fix something else or fabricate a handy gadget for a patient. Be realistic; there are only so many pieces of broken equipment you can use. Get one big box or garbage can and work in shifts to clean out areas of the clinic. If you haven’t touched it in over a year, get rid of it.

• Piles and folders of patient education and exercise programs. We keep them around because we may need them. Again, be realistic. There are a few education sheets and exercise programs that we use often, and we will keep them. The others can be put in recycling, or you could make one copy of the rarely used ones and put them in a filing cabinet.

If you find in a year that you haven’t touched them, then recycle them as well. If you are lucky enough, you have a program on your computer that makes custom exercise programs, so you don’t need to keep copies of exercise sheets. If you don’t have that program, you most likely have access to the internet and can look up just about any reference you need. The need to keep all of those copies isn’t necessary anymore.

While cleaning up my workspace, I noticed the on my calendar that the Chinese New Year is coming up on January 28, and even though it isn’t the year of the rat, you can celebrate like it’s the year of the “pack rat” by looking around your department and workspace to start to de-clutter.

The New Year is in full swing, and the resolution train has left the station. I hope you’re on board. Maybe this year the resolution that you make could help you to work in the type of clinic you’ve always dreamed of.

Good luck, get moving and set yourself apart.

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About Author

Melissa Ricker, COTA/L, CSST, CWC
Melissa Ricker, COTA/L, CSST, CWC

Melissa Ricker works with acute and long-term rehab clients at Absolute Rehab in Canton, Ohio, at Altercare of Nobles Pond. She received the American Heart Association's "Lifestyle Change Award" in 2012 and is a "Wellness Champion" for her company's health and wellness program.

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