Do you have an untidy workspace? Have you ever thought about how this can negatively impact on your productivity and mood? It is not uncommon for people’s workspace to become disorganised however for some people it can become chaotic and maybe even unhygienic. Although research conducted by psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota suggests that a messy space may lead to more creativity, for the majority of us, a cluttered and untidy workspace can be a stressor.
So why is it important to keep your workspace tidy and organised? A well-maintained workspace provides us with a sense of clarity. Most people tend to be more productive when their work area is clear, clean and tidy with no unnecessary clutter. It makes it easier to find and check through things properly reducing the likelihood of mistakes. It improves concentration and efficiency in doing tasks which will increase productivity and reduce stress.
So why do some people have an untidy workspace? This may occur for people who struggle to clear up their workspace because they are reluctant to throw away office documents or other resources. They may have created an emotional attachment to certain work or personal items and this can lead over time to a cluttered workspace. There can be fear of letting go in case of needing that object or resource at a later stage. It creates the ‘what if…’ scenario. People who have chaotic workspace very often end up storing non-significant or unimportant objects with the important documents. Over time there may be a difficulty in identifying what needs to be kept and what does not. The skill of distinguishing what is important to what is not needed can become redundant and this can lead to an internal struggle to identify what is important and what is not important.
However, the good news is we can reactivate this skill to distinguish things that are important and are not important and as there is no time like the present to do it!
Tips to create a tidy, clear and uncluttered workspace
- Admit you have an untidy workspace: Once you identify that you have an untidy workspace you can start to put a plan together to tackle the mess.
- Imagine a tidy and organised workspace: when you can imagine what it looks like you have a goal to work towards
- Take action: Rather than leaving it until tomorrow, do something about it now. Move from procrastination to action. Part of the problem is that things are being left until ‘tomorrow’ and other things become priority to organising and tidying your workspace. This also needs to be a priority.
- Break it into smaller tasks: If it is difficult to give it the time needed to organise the mess break it into smaller tasks taking one pile or section and work through it. Schedule it into your day like you would other tasks.
- Never be afraid to throw away things: Sort out your documents and items into things that you need to keep and things that you can throw away. Items that can be thrown away are pieces of paper with doodles on them and old phone messages for example. Are there items that are saved on your computer that you do not need in paper form? Can you scan the documents and save them onto your computer to save space? Challenge your concerns about throwing things away.
- Sort things out: After sorting through your items categorise them into topics or by urgency for example, categorises that are meaningful for you to be able to easily access the documents or items. Put these documents into storage containers or a filing cabinet to create more space.
- Only keep necessary office supplies: Check what office supplies you need on your desk and put the rest into a container to be stored away for when you need them.
- Make it a habit: Now that you have a tidy workspace it is important to maintain it. Before the end of every working day take some time to tidy your desk and throw out items that you do not need. Once you keep on practicing this habit before you now it, it will become automatic
- Enjoy your tidy workspace: Notice the difference it makes to you. If you have a positive experience of your tidy workspace you are more than likely to maintain it.