Staying Organized: The Problem with Clutter


If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

I’m sure we could debate the advantages and disadvantages of clutter. However, in real life terms (leaving Einstein aside) — would erring on the side of less clutter (and more organization) be the best path?

I believe so.

A cluttered state can affect feelings of well-being and productivity. Moreover, if you work in clutter, co-workers may make negative assumptions — and bosses may worry that you are chronically disorganized.

Research discussed in this article at HBR, examined how persistence was affected by exposure to a neat vs. a messy work environment. The researchers found that subjects exposed to a neat environment worked at a challenging task longer (1.5 times actually), than their counterparts who viewed the messier desk.

As the article explains, when our resources are drained by distraction — our performance can suffer. (This makes perfect sense). This can affect how we tackle a challenging task. Of course, there has been evidence in favor of a bit of mess to encourage creativity. However, definitive research is in order.

Here are a few clutter busting ideas for you. If you are chronically messy in the office, pick one that really speaks to you and give it a try. (Give things time — so you can settle into any change.) If you are simply fine-tuning your work-life organization skills — let us know what helped you amp-up your game.

(Click on the item photo to learn more.)*

Banishing the Clutter Mindset:
The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing*
This book delves into when and why you should let some things go. Enough said.

Try a Bullet Journal (see this link for more on this method).

This desk top organizer has a place for current reading material.

File Folders. A necessity. Use them. They do help. Label one “ideas”.

*This denotes an affiliate link. We often receive emails about suggestions for topic-focused books and products. These links make things quite simple.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

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