Have you ever looked at your workspace and felt overwhelmed? Does it feel easier to walk away from it than fix it? Facing a messy desk can be draining.
People fall trap to the Einstein theory, “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” hiding behind a false truth that a clean workspace indicates a lack of creativity or intelligence.
It’s important to note that an organized workspace is not necessarily the same as an empty desk.
True too, there is research from scientists from the University of Minnesota who found “that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.” Specifically, you can gain leaps in outcomes in supporting creativity.
Unfortunately, most people, while they might really need to harness and encourage creativity situationally, are probably striving for productivity.
Tidiness as Princeton University researcher Professor Sabine Kastner found is key to clear thinking and being productive.
“Visual clutter competes with our brain’s ability to pay attention and tires out our cognitive functions over time.”
Tiring cognitive process means your brain gets tired. Tired brains think slower. Slower thinking produces slower, less effective work.
Being tidy and clean also supports generally good behaviors and supports people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an office job or if you work from home, keeping an organized desk and workspace is very important in order to work efficiently. It’s not always easy to pay attention to cleaning and organization when you’re worried about important deadlines, which is why your space can quickly turn into a mess.
And, in light of some of the debate on clean desk vs messy desk – it’s important to realize this is real
So in the course of the next week or so, find and block out time on your calendar to concentrate on your workspace. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re able to find everything you need quickly and efficiently!
Consider some of the following cleaning tips for your workspace:
1. File away your paperwork. Paperwork can get out of hand fast. Spend some time sorting through your paperwork. File important papers away, and shred any personal documents that you won’t need anymore.
* Put all loose paperwork into a filing system and keep folders for any paperwork that you’re currently working on. As new papers come in, try to deal with them right away, instead of leaving them on your desk for later.
2. Clean your work surfaces.
Since you’ll be able to finally see the bottom of your desk, you need to take advantage of the opportunity to clean the surfaces underneath the old clutter. Also take time to clean all of your desk items such as staplers, pens, and paper trays.
3. Make your business contacts digital.
Start a list of all your business contacts somewhere on your computer, such as your address book in your email. Keep track of their business name, photos, phone number, mailing address, and email addresses. This way you can toss out their old business cards that may be piling up on your desk.
4. Deal with old reminder notes.
If you have post-it notes all around the office, sift through them and throw out the ones that no longer apply. Reorganize them by priority, or make digital files to keep track of them. Post-its can get disorganized fast, so if you have something on a post-it that’s a long-term project, it’s better to keep your notes on your computer.
5. Deal with digital clutter.
Yep, this is a real thing. Cleaning your workspace doesn’t apply only to your physical workspace. Is anything cluttering up your computer’s hard drive? Go through your e-mail inbox and delete those you don’t need or file them away.
* Clean up your computer desktop and delete old files or back them up to an external drive. Take the time to properly back up your files often, so you never lose important work.
6. Organize your supplies.
Gather your work supplies into one area of your desk. Keep them in that space or a specific drawer. This will give them a permanent place so they’re not left out and scattered around your desk at all times.
7. Clean the areas around the room.
Vacuum the room around your desk and wash the windows, baseboards, and more. It’s probably not an area that you often think about, which is why it’s likely due for a cleaning.
8. Make a future cleaning schedule.
If spring cleaning for your workspace was a burden on you, it probably means that you let things get out of hand this year. You can prevent it from happening again by doing periodic cleaning of your workspace.
* Once you have an organizational system in place, you can spend maybe 30 minutes per week keeping everything clean and organized.
Then there are the ‘softer’ benefits of a clean, organized workspace – like a clean office environment is more inviting to you, your clients, and anyone you work with.
So, the next time you find yourself embroiled in the battle of the cluttered versus the organized desk, don’t fall into the trap. Remember, there are times that clutter might be helpful. But, if your focus is to get stuff done, getting organized is what will get you moving forward.
Have you ever felt like you’re just out of balance, getting moved along a path in your career, but you are behind the controls of the destination. I hear this a lot – careers out of control with demanding jobs spilling over into chaos in all areas of your life. This imbalance is often caused by putting undue focus on certain priorities to an extent that pushes out your other priorities. A life that’s under control is also well-balanced.
Regain your balance and get back at the helm of a life you desire with these strategies:
1. Tackle your possessions. It’s easy to get your life out of balance if you’ve been overly focused on possessions. You’re more likely to incur debt. You also might be feeling empty inside. The rush of owning a Ferrari eventually wear off. Avoid chasing possessions as a source of happiness.
- By the same token, if you don’t have the possessions you require, life is also unbalanced. Reliable transportation, suitable clothing, and a phone are a few possessions that are worth having.
- Avoid letting possessions control your life, but ensure that you have what you need.
- If debt is an issue, find a resource to help you understand your debt issues (do you lack income, or overspend?), make a budget that supports a healthy life goals and debt reduction overtime.
2. Your appearance and health. Focusing on your health is a worthwhile use of your attention. But too many people are overly concerned with their appearance. Everyone that lives long enough eventually looks old. What will you do then?
- You still have the option of feeling good about yourself, even if you’re not as attractive by the stereotypical standards as some people are. Everyone has their own unique beauty.
- Paying attention to your health and accepting your appearance will put this aspect of your life into balance.
3. Finances. Many people tie their self-image to their income. This isn’t a healthy or well-balanced approach. Money and happiness also don’t correlate above an income of $75k. Avoid basing your self-esteem on how much money you make.
- Having too little money can also throw your life out of balance. If you don’t have enough money to reliably pay your bills and feed your family, there’s going to be stress. Focus on generating the income you need, but avoid giving money more attention than it deserves.
- Are you looking for ways to generate extra income? Take a look at the skills you have – there is almost always some availability for part-time gig-type work from delivering pizza’s, to digital economy gigs on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. What about selling off things on Ebay? Crafting or collecting on Etsy? Don’t overlook simple solutions that might not be valuable to you, but could generate an influx of needed cash.
4. Relationships. Relationships are important, but they’re not the only thing in life. Putting all your emphasis on a relationship can limit other aspects of your life.
- Relationships can be a significant source of both pleasure and stress. If your life is feeling out of control, take a look at your relationships and determine if they are positive and rewarding or negative and demanding or worse, destructive or harmful.
5. Career. This tends to affect men more than women. Men seem to define themselves by their careers. How many times have you been asked, “What do you do?” And we’d love to say we’re a cardiothoracic surgeon instead of a plumber. But why does it matter?
- Give work enough priority that you’re able to be successful in your chosen field, and remember that you’re more than your job title.
6. Reputation. Once we start school, we’re obsessed with the opinions of others. Carrying this attitude into adulthood can create challenges.
- Let go of the need to be admired by everyone. If your friends and family admire you, you’re doing better than most.
It’s all about balance. Try to find the middle path. We all need money, but no one needs $10 million. It’s not having $10 million that’s the problem. It’s the unreasonable pursuit of it. Find balance in your work, relationships, and possessions. Get your life back under control by seeking balance.