When running your own small business from an office or from your home, organization, both physical and mental, is always an important factor in your success. Not surprisingly, clutter has been found to be a significant factor contributing to stress and anxiety in your work environment.
According to Mikael Cho’s article, clutter can affect your productivity adversely. He mentions a study undertaken at Princeton University which gave participants the same task in an organized and a disorganized environment: “The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”
Psychology Today echoes these findings with Sherrie Bourg Carter’s piece. She points out that although clutter poses a considerable threat to efficiency at home and productivity in a business environment, this fact often goes unacknowledged. “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”
Carter suggests a day-to-day approach to cut down on clutter at your desk and increase productivity. She says that giving yourself a fresh start each day will be beneficial: “De-clutter your primary work space before you leave it… make a habit of cleaning off your work space before you go. Not only will this give you a sense of closure when you leave, it will also make you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space.”
One more point to consider is mentioned by Cho. He stresses that in our virtually connected business culture, clutter is not simply a pile of manila folders and un-filed papers on your desk. Electronic clutter can be just as debilitating: “Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks.”
Scheduling time into your work day to devote to clearing out your digital clutter can help with this. By designating a particular time or multiple times every day to devote to dealing with business related emails and social media, you can train yourself not to jump every time a new message beeps, distracting you from the task at hand.