Have you ever spent any time looking up “desk setup” on social media?
You’ll find some beautiful examples of workspaces tailored to their creators' vision of how they want to spend their time working. All the elements of their desk setups are carefully selected to work in harmony.
But if then take a look at your own workspace and find it to be a cluttered mess it can be a bit of a bummer.
A cluttered workspace makes our productivity go down the drain and makes us feel beat up and worn down at the end of the day, especially while working from our home office.
The good news is that this can be fixed in several ways.
If you’ve been struggling with cluttered and messy workspaces, read on.
How does clutter impact our productivity?
Aside from not being visually attractive, a messy workspace can have a significant impact on our productivity.
Here are some of the ways in which clutter on our workspace can make our productivity take a dive.
Distraction and lack of focus:
A cluttered environment can be visually distracting and make it difficult to concentrate on tasks at hand.
When there are numerous items scattered around, it can draw attention away from the work that needs to be done, leading to reduced focus and productivity.
And as mentioned earlier, it just doesn’t look good. And having a visually appealing space can boost our wellbeing in quantifiable ways.
Increased stress and overwhelm:
Have you ever felt like you were going crazy while looking for a pen at your desk?
This is the stress we’re referring to.
Cluttered spaces can create a sense of chaos and overwhelm, increasing stress levels.
More stress = less work getting done = feeling worse at the end of the day.
Reduced efficiency and flow:
Clutter can impede workflow by creating physical obstacles and hindering movement. It can slow down processes and make it more challenging to complete tasks efficiently.
The cluttered environment may also disrupt your ability to tap into your flow states. Your flow is the state where you’re doing your best work and feeling awesome while doing it,
Procrastination and avoidance:
Clutter can contribute to procrastination and avoidance of tasks. When the surroundings are cluttered, individuals may feel overwhelmed and may be more inclined to delay or avoid work altogether, further reducing productivity.
Impaired creativity and problem-solving:
Clutter can hinder creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. A cluttered environment may restrict mental space and limit the ability to think clearly and come up with innovative solutions.
This means that you’ll be spending extra time and energy while possibly coming up with inferior solutions.
In other words, decluttering your workspace should be at the top of your priority list. Since it would pretty much pay for itself with the boost in productivity you would get from it.
Why do we clutter in the first place?
Intuitively, we all understand that having a messy and cluttered workspace is not a good thing.
However, it can feel like we’re powerless or that no matter what we do, our workspace is still a mess.
The reasons why we clutter can be quite deep and hard to deal with at times. They’re individual to each of our own experiences. So it’s important to remember to be kind to ourselves while embarking in the process of decluttering our workspaces.
Here are some reason why some people tend to clutter:
Lack of organization skills:
Some individuals may struggle with organizing their belongings effectively, leading to cluttered spaces. They may find it challenging to establish systems for categorizing and storing items, resulting in a buildup of clutter over time.
Organizing is a skill in of itself, which is good news, since it means that it can be developed even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Emotional attachment to possessions:
People often form emotional attachments to their belongings, making it difficult for them to let go of items even when they are no longer useful or necessary.
Sentimental value or the belief that certain objects may be needed in the future contributes to clutter.
If you’re one of those people whose closet is on the verge of exploding, then you know what we’re talking about.
Decluttering often involves making decisions about what to keep, donate, or discard. Some individuals find it difficult to make these choices, fearing that they might make the wrong decisions or regret getting rid of something later. This indecision can result in cluttered spaces.
Some people refer to decision making as a muscle. So if in other parts of your life you find yourself making a large amount of decisions, your decision making muscle might be exhausted by the time you need to put your workspace in order.
It's important to note that individual reasons for clutter can vary, and different combinations of factors may contribute to the accumulation of clutter in different cases.
Addressing these factors, developing organizing skills, and adopting a proactive approach to maintaining tidy spaces can help prevent clutter from building up.
3 strategies to fix your workspace clutter.
When it comes to decluttering spaces, there are several effective strategies to consider. Here are three commonly recommended approaches:
Categorization and Sorting:
Start by categorizing items into groups based on their similarities (e.g., clothing, books, electronics).
Sort each category further into subgroups, such as items to keep, donate, sell, or discard.
Evaluate each item within its category and make decisions about whether it is genuinely needed or brings value to your life.
This method can help streamline the process and make the decision of keeping or throwing something away significantly easier.
The KonMari Method:
Developed by Marie Kondo, this method emphasizes decluttering based on what sparks joy and personal attachment to items.
Sort through belongings by category (e.g., clothing, books, papers) rather than by location.
Hold each item and assess whether it brings joy or serves a meaningful purpose in your life.
Discard items that no longer bring joy or have fulfilled their purpose, thanking them for their service before letting go
The KonMari Method encourages a more mindful and intentional approach to decluttering. So if how you feel about things is very meaningful to you, this method might resonate with you the best.
The 20/20 Rule:
The 20/20 rule focuses on quick decision-making to declutter efficiently.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to decluttering during that time frame.
During each 20-minute session, aim to identify and remove at least 20 items from your space.
This approach encourages a sense of urgency, prevents overthinking, and helps tackle decluttering in manageable increments.
If the KonMari method doesn’t work for you, then it’s very likely that the 20/20 rule will.
Regardless of the strategy you choose, it's important to establish a system for organizing and storing the items you decide to keep on your desk setup.
This could involve using storage containers, labeling, or creating designated spaces for different categories of belongings.
Prevent clutter from happening again
If you managed to muster the energy to declutter your workspace only to see it in a complete mess a few days later, you know how terrible this can feel.
Our suggestion to prevent clutter from happening is to implement a system and to stick with it.
By sticking to a system you’ll eliminate the decision making process and free up your bandwidth to focus on your work. Which will in term boost your productivity.
Here’s a suggestion of what your workspace system might look like:
- Make a list of what items are authorized to be on your workspace. If there’s something that’s not on the list, put it anywhere else but your desk.
- Utilize the right tools for the job. Invest in desk organizers and on desk productivity tools like our on desk whiteboards and monitor stands. Assign them specific spots on your desk and put them back in their designated places.
- Clear your desk at the end of each day. This is the best way to make sure clutter doesn’t creep up on you.
Having an inspiring and clutter-free workspace is possible
Considering that on an average work week you’ll spend at least 40 hours at your workspace, it's easy to see how a boost in productivity could make your life easier.
Even though it may take some trial and error, you’ll surely be able to find the decluttering system that makes sense for you and helps you keep your workspace inspiring and working for you, instead of against you.