Some people feel that a little messiness can inspire creativity. This may be true, but where’s the line between messy and chaotic? It can be hard to tell. If your desk at work or in your home office is covered in papers and your file folders are strewn everywhere, there’s a good chance your productivity and creativity are being negatively impacted. All of this can result in more stress and a flustered mindset. The key is figuring out how to corral the clutter so that you can work more efficiently in an environment that energizes you. Let’s explore some ways to do that.

Your Messy Desk

Your desk says a lot about you. This is especially true if you work in an office or other setting with colleagues and customers. Even if you’re an independent professional who works from home, anyone who sees your workspace will form an opinion of you. It’s human nature to make judgments. Something you may not have considered is the way the piles and mess strewn on your desk create an impression. And what about how you feel when you work there? Such visual clutter impacts your concentration, your mood, and your productivity in a negative manner.

Downsides of a Messy Desk

When your desk is cluttered, you waste time searching for things you need in order to complete your job. This could be hours each week. Along with this lost productivity comes the stress of not being able to find what you need. It can take a toll on your mental state and even affect your creativity and critical thinking. Visual clutter also zaps your energy. You feel overwhelmed simply by being surrounded by the mess on a daily basis. This feeling of being inundated can also take away your motivation, lessening your productivity. A clean desk allows your eye to flow, making you feel more energized. It will boost productivity when you’re able to find what you need and make fewer mistakes. Increased productivity is a catalyst that leads to getting even more done. This type of success feeds on itself. Also, you’ll be projecting a more professional image when your workspace is clean.

Ways to Clear the Clutter

Cleaning up the mess will take a concerted effort. Be brutal by getting rid of everything you don’t need. Put necessary papers in their place, such as a clearly labeled filing system. Keep only basic mementos such as family photographs. Avoid placing items on surrounding furniture such as chairs or cabinets. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter, keep it neat by reducing your paper intake. Use email and other electronic methods such as scanning documents whenever possible. Do a sweep of your office area every evening, putting things away and clearing surfaces. Limit your tendency to create piles in the first place by setting up labeled baskets for important papers and things you need to look through later.

Don’t let a messy desk be your undoing. A few simple steps will help keep your workspace tidy and improve your productivity, not to mention improving your mental outlook.

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