Why Clutter is Stressful

The Bottom Line: Remove your clutter, free your mind, and see your productivity soar.

Personally, I can’t stand clutter, particularly when I’m working.  It’s not that I’m obsessively neat, it’s just that a cluttered work space means a cluttered mind.  A cluttered work space directly reduces your efficiency in getting things done and if you’re not doing your job that contributes to high stress levels.

Put differently (but exactly the same message), if your desk is a mess and disorganized and your mind is a mess and disorganized, then you are directly impeding your ability to get your work done.  If you don’t get your work done or you don’t complete essential tasks or jobs or commitments, your stress levels rise in direct proportion to your shortfalls.

Remember: a neat desk clears the path for a productive mind.

The following ideas are pretty simple … they are basic and fundamental.  But, as with many things in life, you have to go back to, and often re-learn, the fundamentals to increase your effectiveness. 

  1. Designate a place for everything … papers to paper clips, know where everything is (and that doesn’t mean on your desk). 
  2. Have a trash can handy and easy to reach. No excuses for not throwing out useless clutter.
  3. Minimize paper.  Go paperless on everything possible (of course, keeping everything organized and filed on your computer) and quickly screen those papers or magazines, etc. that you do get, and decide whether or not you actually need to get them.
  4. Again, minimize paper.  If you know where to find a document, you don’t need to keep that document.
  5. Get all of the office accessories, or anything else, off your work area unless they serve an immediate purpose.  If you are not using it, you don’t need to see it.
  6. Further to the above points … When in Doubt, Throw It Out.  You will never need 99% of the papers that you are saving. If you truly need a hard copy, make sure you have a good filing system and put it where you will know where to locate it.
  7. If you need it, scan it and keep it in an electronic file.
  8. Clean your workspace at the end of your workday and arrive to an empty desk at the start of your next work session.  Then you can prioritize, start on the most important task and complete it before going on to another. 

Remember, an organized work area results in greater productivity, and greater productivity means doing a better job at whatever you’re doing, and then always feeling good about what you do. 

Accomplishing something = good feelings.