How Clutter Destroys Productivity (And Why It’s Probably Your Desk’s Fault)
Ronald Monte | August 30, 2018
“Productivity” isn’t just a buzzword. Everyone knows what it’s like to have an unproductive morning or lose all sense of motivation by 3 PM. Little things can turn into big frustrations; people, places, things, and thoughts can get in the way every time you regain your focus; and sometimes, the distractions can come from a mysterious source.
“I’m not feeling productive today, and I don’t know why.” We’ve all thought those words. However, perhaps the answer has been (literally) under our noses the whole time: our workspaces.
A Messy Desk is Demotivating
According to research published by the University of Chicago Press, evidence has shown that a messy workspace can be a self-defeating environment, meaning the less organized our surroundings, the more likely we are to do substandard work by taking the shortest route, or giving up on the task altogether. The studies summarized by the research mentioned above make clear that disorganization portrays the sense that we’ve lost control over our environment, and therefore lack the ability be at our best. Concerningly, this is often a subconscious reaction to what’s around us, so even when we make a point to push past the disorder, we can still be more subpar than usual without realizing it.
Clutter is a Distraction
You don’t have to be anal retentive to be distracted by a 360-degree view of something you’re going to have to deal with eventually. You’re not going to be able to give your full focus if you know you’re missing something and need to find it among the disorder. You’re often aware of the clutter, which can mean that you’re also mindful of your colleagues’ potential judgment. Few things are more distracting than that.
You’re There to Work, Not to Clean
You’ll always have to do a little dusting, some disinfectant spraying, and a bit of wiping away some fingerprints. But all of that combined should take about sixty seconds. If you’re spending any portion of your day walking around your office to clear space; setting limits on how much you can have on your desk; and even having files, supplies, and equipment at your feet; you’re doing janitorial work instead of your job description, whether it’s every day or once a week. Doing additional work that doesn’t push your career forward is incredibly unproductive, as it negatively affects both your mental and scheduling bandwidth, a terrible combination.
The Answer: A Workspace That Complements Workflow
Designing a standard desk—whether you’re in an open or a more traditional office—to be as conducive with productivity as possible can be challenging but worthwhile. Consider incorporating colors that specifically encourage concentration, like green and blue, while also minimizing the personal décor, as more than a few photos can become a combined distraction. The temperature should be between the high-sixties to mid-seventies, as warmer air can keep you warmer all day. Plants help tremendously, as do noise-canceling headphones (with or without music) and having the freedom to sit or stand while working.
Oh, and having a cleared desk, of course. All that should be on there every day are the things you use every day…which, I know, can sound near-impossible.
Also, what about creativity?
You Don’t Have to be Weighed Down to Think Outside the Box
It’s been said that a messy work area encourages creativity. We’ve all read those articles that state how the more a person is disorganized, the more likely they’ll come up with an original, high-quality concept. But consider being surrounded by that clutter rather than buried in it. What if you had control over what’s where without having to physically keep track of every scrap of paper, every message, every electronic device that’s required for you to do your job? Forget staying organized. We’re talking about it being impossible to find yourself unable to operate at your highest potential while at your workspace.
If it sounds futuristic, that makes sense, because I believe it’s the way of the future.
Intuitively, a desk neatly organized with piles of aligned papers, pressed-together pens, and Post-Its sealed right along the edge would stifle creativity. When everything already looks perfect, humans tend to hesitate, because our instinct tells us not to affect something we perceive as flawless. But what year is it? Why is our space being crowded by the same stuff that jammed our desks in the ’90s?
Office Innovations Aim to Enhance Productivity
Admittedly, the most straightforward example is our product, the Cemtrex SmartDesk. The SmartDesk is designed to be a new workspace option that heightens workflow and encourages a consistent level of productivity, every day. The SmartDesk eliminates clutter by creating an all-in-one workstation, complete with a powerful PC, 72 inches of uninterrupted touchscreen monitors, the ability to adjust from sitting and standing, extensive tech integration, and more. It’s also powered by just one cord.
While it’s important to be aware of the factors that heighten our productivity on both a conscious and subconscious level, recent workspace advances mean we no longer have to make it a daily activity.