How much time do you waste combing through piles of documents to find the one you’re looking for? If you’re anything like the average worker, chances are you spend more than 12 hours each week trying to find information that’s buried somewhere on your desk.
Indeed, clutter causes fatigue, and sometimes just looking at a disorganized workspace can be enough to throw you off your game. In addition to making it harder to locate things or find space to work on, studies have even linked clutter to depression. Beyond that, some of those who decide to clean up their act have an incredibly hard time doing so. For some, that process can involve feelings of insignificance and paralysis—the feeling like you can’t do anything whatsoever to clean up your space.
In addition to those feelings of depression, workplace clutter also serves as a “tremendous waste of productivity,” according to Katherine Trezise of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
Do you really want your workspace to be a source of depression in your life? So before you start being called a hoarder by your colleagues—or your roommates, friends and significant others, if you work at home—you might want to take the time to clean off your desk once and for all. At the very least, it’s a way to boost your workplace productivity.
Believe it or not, 57 percent of Americans admit that they judge their coworkers by how clean or dirty their workspaces are. If your desk is super messy, then, it follows that at least one of your colleagues will assume that you’re just as much of a slob outside of work as you are on the clock.
Which means they’ll think you probably smell bad, and nobody wants to be chummy with someone who has an awful musk.
So, for starters, the cleaner your workspace, the more likely your coworkers are to respect you as a human being. The less likely they’ll be grossed out just by thinking about you.
Your workspace, ostensibly, is the place where you produce some sort of value for which you’re compensated. The messier your desk, the less space you have to work. And on the other side of the coin, the cleaner your desk, the more space you have to create.
Think about it: When inspiration strikes, do you really want to spend time reorganizing your pathetic excuse for a desk to find a surface on which to work?
Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule. But in the aggregate, here’s the second takeaway: A clean desk helps you become more productive.
Recent research says that U.S. businesses collectively miss out on $89.8 billion each year due to workplace disorganization. What’s more, the average worker loses about 38 hours each year thanks to clutter.
When your workspace is clean, you won’t have to search for things. Instead, you’ll know where they are right away.
So in addition to people assuming you bathe regularly and your work output increasing, an organized desk helps you get something that’s increasingly harder to find these days: more time. Whether that time is reinvested back into your job or spent playing Candy Crush on your phone is up to you.
If you’re a messy slob, all hope is not yet lost.
Since you’re the only one who controls your own actions, you can just flip the proverbial switch and become a cleaner person overnight—if, of course, you want to.
Here are some tips you should consider if you’re trying to turn the page on your life as a slob:
- Stick a trashcan near your desk. That way, you can throw away things in real time, so to speak, rather than setting them down and promising “to do it later.”
- Digitize everything you can. For bills and invoices—and maybe even magazine or newspaper subscriptions—consider going paperless. You’ll have fewer items to find homes for.
- Schedule regular cleaning times. Spend 10 minutes every other Friday cleaning off your desk. Set a calendar reminder if you have to.
- Throw away more stuff. Contrary to what you might believe, a majority of what’s in that pile of whatever-the-heck-it-is would be better off in the garbage can.
Sound good? Now it’s time to dissolve the strong sentimental bonds you’ve formed with the receipts that have been collecting dust on your desk for two years. You can do it!