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Be Clutter Free and Be Productive

Updated on April 13, 2013
Clutter takes over
Clutter takes over | Source

Staying clutter-free keeps my workplace under control and keeps me productive. Without clutter I have fewer distractions, less of an opportunity to procrastinate, less stress, less of a chance of physical injury, and less of a chance of my work being destroyed. Simply put, it’s best to stay simple and keep that clutter away.

Clutter is distracting.

Sherrie Carter, writing for Psychology Today, points out that it’s easy to become overwhelmed when we work in a clutter space. There is too much around us, and we lose focus or become overwhelmed by it. For me, the biggest problem is that clutter often leads to procrastination. Seeing the piles of paperwork (or anything else) around me leads my mind to wander and, if the work I’m doing is challenging, I know that I’ll find myself taking a break “just for a minute” to clean the clutter up. Avoiding the clutter in the first place means that I can be focused and productive, not distracted and scattered.

Organizing pro gives tips on staying clutter free

Clutter wastes time.

When there are piles all around me, I can’t find things easily or at all. Jennifer Nelson of WebMD says that mental and physical clutter wastes our time and makes us less productive. It’s easy to lose something in a stack, and that first look-through isn’t always enough to find it, causing even more time to be wasted. Even the Department of Health and Human Service’s Federal Occupational Health website (Let’s Talk) agrees that “clutter distracts us, drains our energy, annoys our co-workers…And of course, when a worker spends hours every week looking for misplaced items, their efficiency suffers greatly. “ Of course, not being able to find things because of clutter leads to more than just wasted time. It also leads to stress.

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Clutter is stressful.

Psychology Today, in an article titled “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies” points out that clutter affects how we feel about ourselves - and not just ourselves, but also those things around us, like our homes and work places. If things are messy, then we don't feel good. Those bad feelings may manifest as anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed or helpless. If we’re surrounding by clutter, we may feel that we aren’t being successful. How can we feel that we’re in charge of our lives when we aren’t in charge of our desks? On top of that, being cluttered means that we may not be able to meet deadlines because we’re too focused on finding the work instead of doing it, and missing deadlines and losing things causes even more stress to pile up, making the already precarious stack of stress ready to topple our mental health.

A clutter-filled (and dangerous!) desk
A clutter-filled (and dangerous!) desk | Source

Clutter is dangerous.

While we may think that clutter only has psychological effects on us, it’s more than that. The Department of Health and Human Service’s Federal Occupational Health website (Let’s Talk) states that “According to FOH Environmental Health specialist Bradley Christ, extreme clutter can interfere with safe access to workspaces, can block ventilation and sprinklers, and can present fire hazards.” They also quote OSHA who warns that clutter is physically harmful. If there is too much clutter in the workplace, such as on desks and around chairs, workers are actually at risk for ergonomic problems. For example, if a computer keyboard or monitor is in an awkward position, the user might wind up with pain or damage to their shoulder, back, or neck. It can be uncomfortable and make the worker ineffective or at least less effective because he or she can't work comfortably. We can actually cause ourselves physical injury just by having a cluttered desk or office!

Clutter leads to more clutter, and sometimes worse.

As someone who has cats, dogs, and a child, I’ve learned the hard way that leaving things stacked or unorganized can lead to a bigger mess. Whether it’s a cat who slips on the pile or papers and causes them to hit the floor, a dog who literally eats my homework, or my son who likes to draw on anything he can find, regardless of it’s something that I have to submit to work or school, there is always something that can go wrong when there is clutter around. Keeping a clutter-free workspace means that my work is safe from many dangers.

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