Is Clutter Affecting Your Ability to Produce Work?

10 Aug, 2015 Productivity

Messy workspaceThe next time you enter your office to work, evaluate your surroundings and whether or not it’s clean. The truth is that most people with “desk jobs” work in a cluttered environment. It’s just something that comes with the territory. While having a cluttered desk may seem harmless enough, it could have a significant impact on your productivity levels, inhibiting your ability to produce quality work in a timely manner.

To put the problem into perspective, the employment firm Adecco conducted a survey of 1,000 office workers, asking them about the level of cleanliness in their coworkers’ working environment. The firm found that an overwhelming majority (57%) claimed to have judged coworkers based on how clean or dirty their workspace was. Furthermore, more than half of the survey’s respondents said they were appalled by coworkers’ messy work stations. Food-related debris was the most appalling.

But can a cluttered/messy workspace affect your productivity levels?

Albert Einstein once said, ““If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” While Einstein is arguably one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists of all time, his view on clutter may not necessarily hold true for everyone.  Sure, some people may work better and/or harder in a cluttered environment, but it’s usually the opposite that occurs for the majority of workers — a cluttered workspace inhibits their ability to produce work.

One of the biggest problems associated with working in a cluttered environment is the simple fact that it’s a distraction. A typical cluttered desk may contain sticky notes, memos, print-out documents, pens and pencils, CDs/DVDs, flash drives, food, beverages, and just about anything else you can think of. All of these items may distract the worker when he or she is trying to complete a task; thereby, lowering the worker’s productivity.

Your performance coincides with your workspace. When it’s organized and precise you have the mindset and motivation to work,” said Jennie Dede, vice president of recruiting for Adecco. “With so many open office plans today, more people can see into your workspace, and they do judge. It’s often personal. They think that you must be a slob in your real life.”

Even if you don’t care what people think about you based on your workspace, other studies have found that your brain can only process a few things that your eyes are seeing. If there are too many things competing for your eyes’ attention, it interrupts your concentration.

Simple Steps to Clean  Up Your Workspace

First and foremost, pull out the trash can and throw away any trash you come across. Even if you “think” your desk is free of trash, it probably contains at least some stuff that can be tosses in the trash. Eliminating the trash from your desk is the first step towards making it clutter-free.

If you haven’t done so already, consider investing in a file cabinet. Rather than tossing your documents on your desk, you can neatly tuck them away in a file cabinet. If a file cabinet isn’t feasible, you can buy inexpensive desk organizers to hold binders and file folders and drawer organizers to hold pens, flash drives, notepads, etc. Clean out your desk drawers and move items into your newly organized drawers. These simple steps will go a long way in creating a clean working environment that helps your productivity levels.

Do you think having a cluttered work environment hurts your productivity? Let us know in the comments section below!

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