Is Your Desk Messy or Organized?

I lose my mind when my desk starts to get messy. I can’t think, or focus, especially with projects piled up, dancing for my attention.

I know I’m not alone too, with a 2011 Princeton University research study finding physical clutter distracts us, which lessens our work performance and increases our stress.

Alas, some workers find tidying up far down their list of priorities. While some may argue a messy desk can inspire creativity, I would side with self-made lifestyle guru, Martha Stewart, who is both creative and organized. Another uber successful professional with an organized office is famed fashion designer, Ralph Lauren.

If you tend to be messy, this professional organizer recommends you have a system to help you remain productive at work. While I am not a big fan of paperless either, I feel there comes a breaking point when mess overwhelms you, impedes your work, or space. It can be frustrating to navigate around a pile of boxes every day, or literally shuffle papers around trying to find something.

I support whatever works for you, but when a “messy” style hampers your work life, I would channel my inner Dr. Phil and ask: “How’s that working for ya?”

Maybe you can’t find a receipt to get reimbursed, that new contact name, or password you need. Perhaps your desk hasn’t been dusted, cleaned, or had food containers removed in a long time. These are signals it’s time to declutter.

We understand entrepreneurs, employees, and executives have little time to organize. Business owners have the extra stress of fulfilling many roles (marketing, accounting, webmaster), with administrative tasks often being pushed to “later”. These less enjoyable tasks can slide without a system. Disorganization begins, and that can interfere with job performance. See how that works?

We spend 35 to 60 hours in our offices each week, at least seven hours a day. That is an average of 2,000 hours a year. Why not make those hours the most productive?

Given we spend a third of our lives working, many people are overwhelmed as soon as they step into their office, and that’s not a good start to the day.

A physical change in your work environment will shift your perspective. While we recognize not everyone has the time—or desire—to organize, the backlog and clutter can be paralyzing. And it may only take a few organizing sessions to help reset your space and restore order.