Nidhi Parikh • Mar 22, 2022
Imagine sleeping in your living room with your TV on high volume and the lights on top of you burning at the brightest.
Or imagine getting ready for a party you have to arrive at in less than 10 minutes and the moment you open the cupboard, all the clothes fall out. Now, you need to find one, iron it out, and worse yet, what if you don’t even find that dress you wanted to wear?
Can you feel that stress, that frustration creeping up in your bones?
That’s the same effect a cluttered workspace can have on your productivity. Don’t believe us? Read on to find out about the “Cluttered Desk Experiment” carried out by Harvard University and how they proved the same.
Harvard University conducted an experiment that involved more than a hundred undergraduate students. These students were either exposed to a perfectly clean workspace or a workspace where the desk was cluttered with papers, folders, and discarded cups.
The students were then called to a separate room to attempt a puzzle that was described as challenging, but in reality, was impossible to solve. It involved tracing a geometric figure without lifting the pencil from the paper or retracing any lines.
Those students who were exposed to the clean workspace attempted the puzzle for an average of 18.5 minutes before giving up, which was more than 1.5 times as long as those that attempted the puzzle after being subjected to a messy workspace (11 minutes)
Why was this the case?
The researchers predict that the mess posed a threat, in a sense, to the participant's minds. This caused a depletion of their mental resources and thus affected their persistence to continue with a frustrating task.
Now that we know what impact an uncluttered workspace can have on your brain, let’s find out the benefits of having a clean one.
Imagine focusing on your laptop screen while your entire table is neatly organized. Now, imagine there are piles of papers lying here and there on your desk. Will these items steal your attention?
Research says yes.
Scientists at Princeton University used fMRI and other approaches to show that our brains like order. When there are constant visual reminders of disorganization, it drains our mental resources and reduces our ability to focus.
The same research found that when this clutter was cleared, participants found it easy to focus and, as a result, increased their productivity.
All the folders on your desk are stealing your attention, making it difficult to focus. You are not able to complete your tasks in the timeframe you had set. You feel helpless, unproductive, and stressed out by seeing all those unchecked to-dos on your list.
A study conducted in the U.S. found that clutter has a direct relationship with stress. They found that the level of cortisol (stress hormone) was higher in mothers whose home environment was cluttered.
No time wastage
More clutter means more time to search for things.
Let’s see how it would look in real life.
You are in a meeting. You jotted down a client’s phone number. A week later, you need to call up that client on an urgent basis. There are piles of papers lying on your table. Would it be in that pile? Or would it be in your desk drawer along with a hundred other documents? Or worse yet, what if you have lost it?
Statistics state that you’re not alone in experiencing this. An average American spends 2.5 days annually looking for misplaced items.
Just consider how much time you could save every day by keeping things organized. The faster you can find things, the faster you can get started with the task at hand. What’s more? It at least saves you from that frustration when you’re not able to find things on time.
Teleport yourself to this scenario - The sunlight is coming through your window. There are green plants on your windowsill. Your table is all cleaned up and your shelves are organized.
Do you feel relaxed already? That’s the power of having a clean workspace. It automatically lifts your mood and puts you in the right mindset to fly through your to-do list.
Can you estimate how much bacteria a typical office keyboard may have?
Brace yourself for it!
A typical office keyboard can carry around 7500 bacteria at any given time.
What’s more? Research has shown that a cluttered work environment triggers avoidance and coping mechanisms that involve watching TV and snacking on junk food.
This proves that having a clean workspace is not a luxury anymore, but a necessity to avoid sickness and have good health.
Here are six simple ways to boost your productivity by having a clean workspace:
Give everything a proper space: So many times, it happens that paper cups, your water bottle, files, and documents lay on your table because you do not have an assigned place to put them in.
Be it the pens you use or the paper cups you drink coffee from, give everything their proper space. It takes away that decision fatigue when you have to think, “Oh there are 20 items on my table. I don’t know where to put them so might as well leave them where they are.”
Label items: Let’s say you are a salesperson. You might have to jot down notes for each prospect, or maybe even store their numbers. Wouldn’t it be much better if you have different files for different purposes and label them properly? For example, one file could be on pharmaceutical clients, one could be on design agencies, and yet another could be your personal work files.
This reduces the risk of losing important data and ensures you always find the things you need. If you have a creative side, turn it on and use different colors and designs to label your work essentials.
Wipe high-touch hotspots: Now that we know how many bacterias might be there on your keyboard, the case might be the same for high-touch hotspots such as your work desk, mouse, desk lamp, charger, and so on. Make sure you clean these on a daily basis with surface disinfectants or other wipes.
Get some storage solutions: Storage solutions like a stationery stand, a file rack, or paper cup holder can help you manage all your items and ensure that you don’t end up with a table that has files, documents, and pens strewn all over.
Try to reduce clutter: Want to spend less time cleaning and organizing things around your workspace? Reducing clutter is the way to go then! Printing less, making digital folders instead of physical ones, putting things in the trash as soon as you’re done with them, are some ways to reduce, if not eliminate, clutter from your life.
Deep clean often: You need to have not just a good-looking workspace but a clean one as well. Deep cleaning your workspace every week or two is a must.
We understand that working professionals do not have the time to clean their workspaces often, especially when you’re working from home. For that reason, we bring to you home cleaning solutions that you’ll love. All you need to do is book your cleaning service by clicking here and enjoy a clean and productivity-enhancing workspace.
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by Nidhi Parikh • Feb 14, 2023