JULY 1, 2014
It’s easy to see our work desk as the stopping point for every piece of snail mail, invoice and e-mail we receive: a huge stack of papers we might need someday. What this translates to in our day-to-day lives is the dreaded, but oh so ambiguous desk clutter.
New research from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute suggests this visual clutter is doing more than cramping our elbowroom. Turns out: mess on our desk translates to clutter in our brain. Our brains naturally create tasks lists and a system for processing information, and clutter makes it difficult to think clearly.
Yikes. Who knew clutter could, quite literally, be such a drag. So, we’ve come up with 4 tips to help you create the workspace that will get you in top mental shape in no time.
Create a paper inbox: Set a basket somewhere on your desk and get in the habit of setting items you don’t have time to address right away inside. Here comes the legwork: schedule a time in your day to take inventory. Go through every piece of mail, business card and inventory sheet. Shoot for an empty basket at the end of each day.
Set a wastebasket by your desk: Remember step number 1? If something isn’t important enough to file away, there is a good chance you don’t need it. Why not cut to the chase and toss it now? As silly as it seems, walking across the room to the garbage can or recycling bin can be a roadblock. Bring the wastebasket to you and avoid stacks of papers that linger on your desk for days.
Allow yourself to make a mess sometimes: Work can be messy. Sometimes we just need to scribble on a piece of paper to work though ideas. Here’s the key: contain the chaos to a designated area. Consider hanging a corkboard above your desk that you are free to populate with pushpins and those random items.
Disinfect your desk: At the end of a long day, the last thing we want to do is clean. But, taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to run a damp paper towel or disinfecting wipe over the surface of your desk is not only good for your health. It is also a helpful reminder to pick up any lingering items and to put them away (hint hint: that last cup of coffee at the edge of your desk).