Clean, clutter-free workspace is essential for productivity, whether you are still working in the office or from home. Clean and clear space allows for mental clarity – something that often gets neglected in a typical work setting. And don’t get me wrong, I totally understand how being busy and clutter go together. Although the worst ever known enemy of productivity, we are often expected to multitask, which inevitably creates even more clutter and chaos on our desks.
Just think about it. Do you ever feel overwhelmed looking at your desk and not knowing what was on top of it? Do you have so many papers in no order of priority that you don’t know where to start? Or worse, do you ever search for something amongst the clutter to the point where you get frustrated?
On the other hand, have you ever cleared your desk for any reason and felt like wow – I have so much space? Did it feel like you could instantly breathe easier?
This is how I feel when I look at my desk at various stages of work. I certainly feel refreshed and twice as ready to take on whatever task I’m given when I have a clean, uncluttered desk that is not covered in various forms and folders (and trust me – I’ve had busy times when my desk was covered in 10+ folders, over 200 pages each, at a time).
So to me, the benefits of having a clean workspace are very clear, but in case you need more convincing, here is the logic behind clean (home) office space:
The Benefits of a Clean Workspace
We, humans, are given a pair of eyes and a brain, which interprets everything that our eyes see. You may not have realised it, but we are highly visual creatures. Well, of course, some people are more visual in the way they absorb information, while others are more aural or even kinaesthetic (that’s actually me!). But we receive a LOT of information through our eyes nevertheless, and this is bound to affect the brain.
When we see a clear space, it acts as a blank canvas – we can imagine all sorts of things here, we can create anything from nothing. All masterpieces started with a blank canvas. But when we see clutter… well, it’s clutter. Nothing exciting, just a bunch of things that overwhelms us because we don’t know where to start. Clutter is taxing on the brain, it affects the mood and our sense of well-being. Moreover, having so much clutter we risk losing something important in a pile of trash.
The benefits of clean and clear work environment are:
- Improved focus and mental clarity
- Reduced stress levels and anxiety
- Anger management (yes, clutter can actually make us angry!)
- Reduced risk of injury (there are many hidden hazards in clutter)
- Increased productivity
Now that we have straighten this up, let’s dive in!
How To Create A Productive Workspace
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Creating a productive workspace isn’t difficult. We can break it down into three parts:
- Clear the space
- Keep the essentials
- Add personal touch
See, it isn’t complicated! Now let’s look at how to get there.
First things first, you need to declutter your desk/workspace.
Depending on where you work from, you can find different items cluttering your space. But even if your work from a busy kitchen or a sitting room, you have to make sure that your immediate work place is clear of everything that isn’t relevant to your task.
Look through everything that is on the surface of your desk/table and sort things by categories, like paperwork, stationary, diaries and planners, personal/beauty products (because they may live on your desk too), etc.
Go through each item in each category and make a decision: do you need this item? If not, toss it out. If yes, is your desk the appropriate place for it?
Do the same for paperwork. Do you need this page/form? Should it be stored somewhere else? Are you finished with it and it needs to be filed or is it something you have to work on? If it is on your to-do list, is it urgent or can it wait?
In the office, I suggest having a sorting system for all paperwork you work with: ‘To Do’ and ‘In Progress’. Once you’re done with it, file it straight away – that way you won’t be piling up paperwork that isn’t a priority anymore.
Keep the Essentials
Now that you have sorted your stuff and discarded what’s not needed, you can decide what is the most essential of the things you do need.
Things you might want to keep on your desk:
- a pen holder with a few pens (no need to keep a big bunch there, you can keep extras in your drawer)
- document trays/caddy (but don’t let it overflow – only keep things you are working on or going to work soon)
- a diary ( have a designated place for it on your desk)
- other items, depending on what your work is about.
For the rest of the things that aren’t so essential, find a place in one of your drawers. It is best to have your drawers organised too, maybe place some trays or dividers for better ergonomics. The idea is to have a place for each item that you need to keep. This will benefit your work in several ways: no loose items floating around, things are easy to find because you know exactly where everything is, and of course both of these factors are going to save you time.
Add a Personal Touch
This is the most important and enjoyable part.
Adding something personal or joyful to look at is going to make the place feel a little cosier and increase your mood, your satisfaction with being at your work place (whether in the office or at home) and thus, increase your productivity.
It could be something as simple as a little plant in a pot – real or artificial, the choice is yours. Do keep in mind though that real plants require care. For easy maintenance, you can choose a small succulent plant. Succulents are great for purifying the air too.
You could also place a photograph in a frame, or a figurine, a couple of books that inspire you. Whatever you choose, it must represent something for you or be aesthetically pleasing.
The Colour Effect
The colour of the items you place on your desk may have a direct effect on how you feel and your productivity levels. For example, green is considered to be calming, blue and purple may help you focus on your tasks, while yellow and orange are happy, energising colours.
The Scent Effect
While it is probably unwise to place scented candles or diffuse essential oils and mists in a typical, shared office, the power of different scents and their effects on your mood and productivity should not be underestimated.
Luckily, pharmacies and other stores, including online, are now happy to offer you essential oil rollers that you can apply to your pulse points and reap the benefits of different essences.
Again, much like with colours, you may find that different scents have different effects on your mind. Lavender and geranium can be calming and de-stressing, while sweet orange, bergamot, grapefruit, lime and lemon are uplifting. Pine and rosemary scents may bring focus, clarity and improve your alertness. My favourite oil brand is Tisserand and I personally use The Little Box of Motivation set, but do check out the other sets like The Little Box of Relaxation and The Little Box of Mindfulness to find one that would suit you best.
The Water Effect
This may not be a piece of lovely decorum, but I suggest you keep a bottle of water on your desk at all times. You can choose a bottle to fit best into your new environment. It could have a motivational message on it or have a colour that boosts your mood and productivity. Or it could be just a regular bottle because, after all, its primary purpose is to hydrate your body.
The slightest dehydration can have detrimental effects on your body. Your brain requires regular hydration in order to function properly. As little as 1% water loss is shown to decrease cognitive function by up to 5%. So for the maximum productivity at your work place, keep a bottle nearby and don’t forget to sip from time to time.