Clutter is not the sign of a beautiful mind

How does your desk look at work? Is it a clear space or does it have an unwashed cup, crumpled pieces of paper, a broken pen and wrappers of kosai on it. If you have trouble focusing at work or even getting started on tasks, a good place to start making changes would be your workspace. When your desk looks like a hurricane has been through it, your mind can’t decide what you want to do. Whether it’s the wrappers of chewing gum that you know you should put in the dustbin, the half eaten plate of rice that you have no intention of finishing, or the flier you were given on your way back from lunch which you have no intention of reading, if it’s on your desk and you don’t need it immediately, it can be a distraction.

A desk at work with too many papers, files and clutter
No elbow space

Cluttered work spaces have been linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety. If you have to lift a pack of chips from yesterday and sweep aside a few crumbs to find a piece of paper or a half-buried file, your workspace is clearly not as optimised as it should be and it’s going to affect your productivity. It’s harder to get started on tasks when you don’t have clear workspaces. This extends beyond the office. If you work into your kitchen to cook a meal and see three days of unwashed dishes in the sink, you are likely to change your mind about cooking because it will probably lead to more unwashed dishes. Chances are the pots you need are unwashed as well.

If your workspace looks untidy and you feel it’s affecting your productivity, there are a few simple steps you can take to help with that:

Use your desk drawers

If you use a desk at work, chances are it comes with drawers. Those drawers are a good place to store papers and files you don’t immediately need as well as any other items on your desk that are distracting but occasionally prove useful. Make use of those spaces. Put away keys, pens, pencils, paper clips, stapler pins, your mobile charger and any other items you are not using. Your desk should be as clear as possible. The less you have on it, the easier it is for you to focus on the task at hand.

A desk drawer with some office supplies neatly stored in
Drawers aren’t just for decoration

Clear your workspace

If your workspace has so much clutter that the sight of it gives you anxiety, you should dedicate a few hours to get rid of all unnecessary material. Here you will have to be ruthless. Your favourite singing alarm clock and bags of your favourite snack don’t belong on your desk. Chewing gum wrappers are supposed to go in the dustbin. Weed out the sentimental. Your aim is to find a place that makes you feel ready to jump into work, one where you can be free from distraction. If you work from home and your family members have a tendency to use your workspace as extra storage, you should have a talk with them on why you need it clean and tidy. If your family are too much of a distraction during work hours, consider getting office space away from home.

A neat desk with a laptop, notebook and glass of water
Clear workspace, a sign of a productive mind

Make tidying up a daily habit

At the end of the day, when you have finished working, spend a few minutes to tidy up your workspace before you leave. It ensures you come to a clear space the next day and can dive right in to work. Whenever you finish using an item, try to return it to the condition so you can use immediately the next time you need it. It may feel like extra work but it pays off. Being able to start work immediately the next time will help you find motivation whenever it’s lacking.

A man putting a bottle back in a cabinet
When you’re done using it, put it back where it belongs

What’s your story? Has a cluttered desk stopped you from getting started on a task? Do you have trouble focusing because some item in your workspace is too distracting? Your workspace has to be a place where your mind automatically knows you mean business. That will be so much easier if you keep it as minimalist as possible.

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