If you’re having a hard time focusing on the job, the solution might be simpler than you think. Researchers have long known the negative effects of physical clutter. It makes sense, when you think about it. If you have a messy desk with papers and paraphernalia strewn all over it, these distractions in your visual field can hijack you from the task at hand. A study from the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University found that physical clutter (like desk disorganization) limits how well your brain processes information by wearing down your mental resources.
Perhaps you’re leaving things out on your desk or scattered around your office because you think you’ll forget about them if you file them away. There’s a problem with this clutter-as-reminder strategy, though. If your mind is pulled into thinking about the various tasks symbolized by each piece of paper surrounding you, then you’re sacrificing the opportunity to direct your brain’s full processing power toward your most important projects.
Don’t waste any more time trying to decide whether or not you should clear your office clutter — if you’re reading this article, then you already know you have a clutter problem. Here are some clutter-clearing steps that can help quickly restore the mental clarity that you need to do your best work:
While you may think you’re making things easier on yourself via the visual triggers that comprise your desktop clutter, you’re actually losing more efficiency than you’re gaining. By choosing the route of order and consistency over confusion and chaos, you can cut through the clutter that’s cramping your clarity.