by Mandy Green, Busy Coach
A few years ago at the school I was working at, our new basketball arena just opened up so we had a massive reorganization of offices.
Being the proactive planner that I am, I made sure to plan in advance and I started the packing process about 3 weeks before I was actually going to be allowed to move because I didn’t want to have to be stressed doing it last minute right before our preseason started.
As I was packing up my old office to get ready to move into my new one, I took the time to go through everything piece by piece, little by little every day. I had been in that office for almost 7 years so I had accumulated a lot of stuff. Needless to say, I threw out a lot of things that I didn’t need anymore, or scanned and filed electronically some of the paper files that I had.
As a result of cleaning up my office for my move, I found that I could think better and focus more than when I was surrounded by clutter. It was a pleasant surprise to see how liberating it felt to have an open desk and half full desk drawers that are not jammed full of files and old soccer equipment that I didn’t need.
So I did a little research on the affect that clutter has on workplace productivity.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. From their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”:
When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.
No matter what article or study I read, they all seem to say that when you sit down at the beginning of the day at a clean, neat, and tidy office and desk, your mind will move straight to work; when you sit a messy desk and office, you’ll find it difficult to focus at all. Every piece of clutter-from desktop documents to stacks of books and magazines-has a negative effect on your productivity.
“Clutter overloads your senses, just like multitasking overloads your brain.”
For most coaches at this time of year as you are wrapping up the spring, reorganizing your whole office is not in the cards. I suggest to just commit to doing something small every day. Start by picking a single drawer. Clean up and clear out every drawer, closet, cabinet, and trunk that doesn’t give me a sense of calm and peace when you see it.
I have found for me that getting physically and mentally organized has allowed me to focus at a level I would have never believed possible. What I love most about it, is that it has left my energy to go nowhere to go except to what matters.
Whether you are responsible for creating your own information management system or if those higher up are in charge, it’s still up to you to take action and make it happen. Here are some steps:
- Set aside time weekly to manage and organize information. Adhere to that commitment like an appointment and you will stay ahead of the game.
- Always organize your desk at the end of the day, so at least 80 percent of the desktop is visible. This will make going to work each morning a joy because desk stress and mental overload will decrease while your productivity increases.
- Eliminate anything on top of your desk that is not used often. Put everything else into drawers, cubicles or containers that are easily accessible. Your efficiency will double and your fatigue will decrease.