Are you feeling unusually stressed out at work? Take a look at your work environment. Is it neat and tidy, or is it cluttered and in a state of disarray? If it’s the latter, that may actually be contributing to your stress level!
Research shows that clutter can cause stress by overwhelming our brains with excessive stimuli, which can distract us and interfere with our ability to focus. It can also promote anxiety and an inability to relax, and can inhibit productivity and creativity. It can also even contribute to feelings of guilt and shame—for example, when others visit your cluttered office. Try these simple strategies you can use to de-clutter your desk and office.
Tips for de-cluttering your office and desk:
- 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 on or hung above your desk.
- In fact, de-clutter daily. Don’t let papers or trash pile up on your desk. At the end of every day, take 5 minutes to neaten up. That way, you’ll be able to start fresh the next morning and be productive in your newly-neatened area.
- 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 computer or phone to go through this box once a week to sort the items and file them, respond to them, etc.
- Take notes. Keep a notepad next to you to jot down ideas that you don’t want to forget, but don’t have time to deal with right now. This can actually help declutter your mind, since the idea comes out of your brain and goes onto the paper!
- Pressed for time? If cleaning your desk is not an easy task, instead of cleaning out the whole thing all at once, 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 or computer so you don’t forget.
Tips for de-cluttering your computer:
Did you know that visual digital clutter can be stress-inducing, too? These tips can help you avoid having a messy digital desktop and email inbox.
- Use folders to organize your files. This will help you keep your documents sorted properly so you can find them when you need them. Your desktop will look neater if you just have a collection of well-organized folders there instead of all the individual documents you’ve been working on for the past month.
- Use folders to organize some of your programs, too. You can also drop many of your programs—especially the ones you don’t use every day—into a folder, or at least remove their icons from your desktop.
- Don’t neglect your email inbox! Emails can add up, and a full inbox can be stress-inducing. Take steps to get your email account to “inbox zero.”
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.