Have you ever looked at your desk space and thought, “Wow, if only it wasn’t so messy — I could get more done! If only I had the time to organize this or that, I could save on time and accomplish more in my day.” The space around us greatly affects our psyche’s ability to function. If the space you have created for yourself is energy blocking, suffocating and stress inducing, then it is keeping you from acting at your optimum functioning level. Work is something we all have to do, but people so easily forget that work doesn’t have to be stressful. Believe it: The right working environment can actually serve to induce mental relaxation.
Job stress is estimated to cost American industry more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs (Rosch, 2001). Fifty-one percent of employees said they were less productive at work as a result of stress (American Psychological Association, 2009). Out of more than 1,000 office workers surveyed in December 2013, 82 percent said they felt being organized improved their performance, yet 32 percent admitted to keeping a disorganized workspace and 42 percent said they clean up clutter once a month or less. The survey was part of a campaign launched by the office supply retail chain and the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), a nonprofit network of organizing consultants.
Just as you would choose to have a physically healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising, you have to choose to be better organized and on top of things; this ultimately leads to a healthier mental life and eventually an increase in your employee efficiency and company ROI.
Essential stress-saving strategies:
- Understanding and encouragement goes a long way. “Messy” is merely perception, and limiting the ways creative people choose to do work is counterproductive to proficiency. Even Steve Jobs’ office space appeared disheveled from many perspectives, but there was order to his chaos. Just because you think an employee needs to clean up his or her surroundings doesn’t mean this will help them create a better bottom line. For some, if you entirely clear their space, they can no longer recall important information. In this instance, some things could be improved by creating areas of designated clutter. The ultimate bottom line is to be at your best and don’t be stressed.
- Color and creativity.Redecorate your space as you see fit. Use neutral colors or a burst of color that is inspiring to you, add a plant or two (plants signify life and growth) and maybe even add a light scent (depending on office policies). Change and re-create your actual work environment to help ease your mind. Even those who find functioning in a mess more creative and stimulating still must remember to clear out the miscellaneous, thus creating space for things to fill it that are inspiring, motivating and personal. Also, limit yourself to only one personal photograph, and place it in the southwest section of your work area to energize relationships. This will increase focus on the work at hand, not others.
- 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 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 and properly labeled. Your efficiency will double, and your fatigue will decrease.
- Use a vertical desktop file sorter instead of stacks and color-code them. Use green folders for new clients, red folders for established clients that provide you good business and good fortune and yellow folders for less important but still necessary information. You and your colleagues will be able to find client information quickly, which improves client relations and results.
- Handle information only once (whether on paper or in your email inbox). Make a decision as to whether it requires action or can be tossed or deleted.
Feeling anxious during your day for not accomplishing all you believe you should be and spending extra time looking for items is, simply stated, time wasted. Perhaps a re-evaluation of your level of organization and inspiration could produce better benefits and increase your personal success!