Clutter is around us everywhere. From our work desk to our bookcase to our paper filing cabinets, we see clutter at work. But, it’s not only physical clutter – it’s also our digital clutter, emotional clutter, and spiritual clutter that’s affecting our mental health and well-being. Let’s find out how clutter impacts our work productivity and what research says about clutter and stress levels.
How Clutter Impacts your Work Productivity
One of the easiest ways to increase work productivity is to remove clutter from your work life and home life. But why? And what really is clutter?
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What is Clutter?
Clutter is anything that gets in the way of experiencing joy each day. It can be anything that takes away our energy and focus from the things that are most important to us.
Is there more than one type of clutter?
To make it simple, I view clutter in four categories. Physical clutter, mental clutter, emotional clutter and spiritual clutter exist in our world. All types of clutter affect our work lives and home lives – AKA our JOY!
4 Types of Clutter:
· Physical Clutter is comprised of our tangible objects. We visually see this type of clutter in our work offices, cars, and homes. Physical clutter can be simplified using the KonMari Methodä.
· Mental Clutter affects our ability to process information. Mental clutter tends to accumulate in our digital world through emails, text messages, phone calls and digital files. It is similar to mental overload, or the mental load that many people carry around.
· Emotional Clutter affects our ability to express feelings such as sadness, fear, or anger. Today, many of us find difficulty expressing our feelings due to the digital world. One way to help reset this is to journal your feelings.
· Spiritual Clutter affects our energy levels and ability to be present in the moment. Today, many of us are incorporating mindfulness and taking mindful pauses during the day to help with spiritual clutter.
Now that we know what clutter is and the four types of clutter affecting our work lives and home lives, how does clutter relate to work productivity? Clutter takes up valuable resources including our time, energy, focus, and money.
Picture this: How many times have you misplaced a piece of paper? A password to an important software for work? A reference book? The time you spend looking for lost things adds up, and TIME is a resource that we cannot get back. Now think about how many times you have had to re-organize your desk because it was covered with papers, books or office supplies? Add in the time you’ve spent decluttering your email inbox and internet browser tabs and that is some SERIOUS time spent on non-income producing work activities.
What does research say about clutter and stress levels?
The research shows that cluttered spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless and overwhelmed. Clutter is directly tied to stress levels from cortisol production in our bodies (especially in women). Our brain only has so much space to take in and process information. Clutter makes it more difficult to focus because it takes up some of that brain space.
All that to say – YES, clutter may be affecting our health and wellbeing. If we don’t tackle the issue, clutter can add anxiety, stress, lack of focus, and other problems to our daily lives. Your clutter impacts your work productivity in a lot of negative ways if you allow it.
So, how do you get started decreasing clutter to improve work productivity?
Step 1: Acknowledge that clutter is affecting your work productivity. It all starts with our MINDSET around clutter. We need to acknowledge that clutter is not serving our best self. Let it go with gratitude and the intention to find joy at work and in life.
Step 2: Clarify the purpose of each physical item in your work life. Outline the purpose of your digital platforms – your email, your phone use, your internet use, and your social media use. Fill in the end of this sentence for each of them (and remember it is YOU who decides this, not your boss or society or culture).
· The purpose of my email inbox is…
Step 3: Simplify how you use each area of your work life. Simplify the physical clutter – ask yourself if it sparks joy, has a functional use, or has a future use? If yes, keep it and store it with intention in a proper location. If no, let it go with gratitude for the learning experience it taught you. Continue to apply the simplifying step to each physical item and then move onto the digital clutter (mental clutter).
Step 4: Align your work into your life and NOT the other way around! Work is ONE part of our life and NOT our whole life. Do the mindset work around this idea and you’ll be cultivating joy at work through simple workflows that serve you.
I want to know how clutter has shifted your feelings about work and joy in life!