Health Advocate Blog

Reduce stress by de-cluttering your desk and office

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Take a deep breath and then take a look around. Is your space neat and orderly, or is it cluttered and disorganized? If it’s the latter, it may actually be contributing to your stress level.

Research shows that clutter can cause stress by overwhelming our brains with excessive stimuli, distracting us and interfering with our ability to focus, promotes anxiety and an inability to relax, and inhibits productivity and creativity. It can also even contribute to feelings of guilt and shame—for example, when others visit your cluttered office. In honor of Organize Your Home Office day on March 10, here are some simple strategies you can use to begin de-cluttering your desk, office, and more.

General tips for de-cluttering any space:

  • Divide things into 3 piles: Keep, Donate, and Trash. Anything you’re sure you’ll need, keep it. Anything you don’t really have a need for but that is still usable can be donated. And anything unwanted and unusable should just go in the trash.
  • Take a trip down memory lane. Think back to the last time you used a particular item. If you’ve never used it, or you don’t see a reason to use it in the future, it’s probably a good candidate for the Donate pile.

Tips for de-cluttering your office:

  • Clean off the top of your desk. Having a clear desk can help you have a clearer mind! File important papers, throw away junk that’s accumulated, and find jars or mugs to store pens and pencils in. Aim to have very little on your desk—your computer and phone are the absolute essentials. To keep yourself happy and motivated while working, you may also want to add a special framed photo or meaningful quote to, or hung above, your desk.
  • Pressed for time? Instead of cleaning out your entire desk at one time, just dump the contents of one drawer onto the floor. Quickly sort through the contents and choose what to keep, donate, or trash. Then reorganize the drawer with only the items you want to keep. To keep the momentum going, choose a time that you’ll tackle the next desk drawer, and set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
  • De-clutter your computer. Avoid having a messy digital desktop. Use folders to organize your files. You can also drop most of your programs—especially the ones you don’t use every day—into a folder, or at least remove their icons from your desktop. Visual digital clutter can be stress-inducing, too.
  • Create a “pending” space. You may not have time to go through your mail every day. Instead of letting it pile up on the corner of your desk, designate a “pending” box for all items you still need to go through and deal with. Set a reminder on your phone to go through this box once a week to sort the items and file them, respond to them, etc.
  • De-clutter your desk daily. Don’t let papers or trash pile up. At the end of every day, take 5 minutes to neaten up your desk. That way, you’ll be able to start fresh the next morning and be productive in your neat area.

For Health Advocate Members

If you are experiencing stress and or work/life balance issues, and you are a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life program, give us a call! Our Licensed Professional Counselors and work/life specialists are available to help you with a variety of issues and can provide strategies to help you reduce your stress level.