Working in a cluttered space is not only distracting, but it can cut down on efficiency, too. How can you get work done when there’s a mess covering every surface of your work area? As it turns out, science has some pretty nifty answers to this all-too-common complaint. Something as simple as putting up shelves can give you the space you need to organize and de-clutter your work space.
How Clutter Affects Productivity
Trying to work while you have a screaming toddler or a barking dog next to you is next to, if not totally, impossible. Researchers at Princeton University believe that a similar reaction takes place in your brain when your work or home study areas are excessively cluttered. The more stuff you give your brain to focus on at one time, the harder it is to concentrate on the one thing that should take precedence.
Think of it like a computer processing information; it’s easier to process just two or three pieces of data at a time. When you have 300 tasks going at once, things get complicated. Without the ability to fully process information, you are likely to become frustrated and lose motivation.
During Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute-led study, researchers used an MRI and other tools to map the response of the brain in cluttered and uncluttered environments. They found that clutter in any form keeps the brain from being as productive as it could be. Keeping clutter out of your space will make you less irritable, ensure that you are distracted less often and even make you more productive.
5 Essential De-cluttering Tips
Most people think that a big project is better done in pieces. This is just not true. You’re better off doing the project all at once unless it’s extremely large—especially when it comes to de-cluttering your home or work space. If you tackle it all at once, it’s much easier to get it to a point where it’s restored and, thus, it becomes easier to maintain going forward. Follow these tips to de-clutter your space.
1. If you tend to get distracted at your desk, keep only what you need within arm’s reach. Not having objects to fiddle with when you’re working will help you to stay on track. Put items like pens, tape and staplers away in desk drawers or on other shelves away from your work space.
2. Plan out and organize the items you need most on a daily basis, but be sure that you set a limit for yourself; it’s easy to go overboard when you lack organization skills.
3. Give yourself time every day to take away items you no longer need from your desk space. This will help to make room for the things you really do need, like new files, documents and supplies.
4. Don’t use your email inbox as a list of things to get done. Digital or real, clutter still affects your brain in the same way and should be avoided. Instead, write a paper list or use software like Todoist instead.
5. Use your shelves! If you don’t have shelves already, invest in a bookcase or other shelving unit to fit books, paperwork and various other things you may need. Don’t need that book or document just yet? File it up out of the way and forget it.
Almost everyone has clutter in their home or work space. While resolving excess clutter might not be an easy fix, it’s a move that can significantly boost your productivity and cut down on unnecessary lost time. Use the space you have and make more space by utilizing shelves and you’ll be clutter free in no time.
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