Clutter is a common phenomenon in everybody’s life. It doesn’t happen overnight and most of us don’t immediately realize we have a cluttered home, backyard or the office. Still, as much as it is common, clutter is also damaging to our daily lives. It messes with our productivity, especially if it’s present in our offices. But how, really?
The effect of clutter
Many university studies have proven that clutter in the office (or anywhere, actually) makes you more frustrated and stressed, which, of course, prevents you from focusing on your job. Your brain processes information differently when you are in cluttered surroundings. We function better in an organized environment because we don’t waste time looking for things and we’re not distracted, so it’s much easier to focus and be more productive.
1. Designate a place for your things
Your desk is probably the area with the biggest clutter in your office. It’s because flat surfaces simply invite you to leave things on it and pile them up. Before you put yet another piece of paper on it, ask yourself: “Does this really belong here?” So, in order to prevent yourself from placing coupons, memos and documents on the desk, have specific places for each one of them.
2. Have a place for things you carry with you
Many times, we forgot to take an important thing with us when we’re leaving the office. The clutter only makes it harder to remember what items must go with you. So, the efficient solution would be to use a desk drawer, a canvas bag hanging somewhere or a credenza where you would put away things that you usually take with you. So, this is a place for your keys, bus pass, phone, lunch bag, umbrella, etc.
3. Revamp your to-do pile
It’s not a good approach to have one big pile of different documents and papers. What you need to do is to create “action files”, dividing them into two main categories. The first one is permanent action files for tasks that regularly occur and will never be completed. This includes bills, letters you are supposed to write and people you need to call. The other one is for temporary action files. It’s for one-time-only projects, the ones that have a beginning, a middle and an end. Label them with the name of the project or of the person connected to it.
4. Make easier access
Clutter means you’ll spend more time searching for things in the mess. Once you get your desk cleared, you should come up with a few tricks to get things you need more easily and faster. The first thing would be to identify the items and files you need on daily basis – those are the ones you should keep in the upper drawers. Files that are only occasionally needed can go on the shelves or in a cupboard. If you often have to leave the desk to go to another office, a project room or just to another corner where your whiteboard is, it’s more efficient to use an office trolley where you can keep things you need at those places. That way, you won’t forget anything and will take it with you more easily.
5. Declutter by throwing things away
The truth is that you probably have some things in the office you don’t need anymore. The problem is to identify which things you should get rid of and which ones to keep. There are two simple questions that will help you see the difference between the two. The first one is: “Do I really need this item to do my job?” If you have a drawer full of half-used pens and numerous sticky tabs, be honest with yourself and remove it. The other question to answer is whether a certain item is beautiful or has a positive impact. Family photos and plants may not be really necessary for your work but they have another important purpose. They keep you happy and motivated when you feel you need a break. Just don’t go overboard with this kind of stuff, otherwise, you will soon lose the feeling you’re in your office.
6. Have multiple charging stations
Annoying cables and wires are probably an everyday problem. If you plug your phone and tablet the moment you get into the office, then you are also having troubles with dealing with the wires. Eliminate them by getting duplicates. Tucking the plugs and wires and getting them out of your sights will do the trick, too. If you have a metal surface, use a magnet to organize the cables behind the desk. Zip ties are also pretty handy.
Clutter in the office really clutters your mind and cost you a lot of time. Decluttering your working space will truly increase your productivity, making you more efficient and focused. You just need to get on to it right now.