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Decluttering Your Workspace:
A Mental Health Breakthrough

Decluttering Your Workspace

You might have noticed that your messy desk correlates with a lack of productivity. The more you have on your desk, the more distracted you become. Even if you don’t notice it consciously, clutter can impact how you’re feeling and even how much you’re able to get done in a day. Whether you're an entrepreneur or work for a company, your workspace can have a major impact on your productivity and overall satisfaction with your career.

It's been proven that the average person wastes 56 minutes per day (or 4.5 hours per week) looking for misplaced items, which means decluttering could be the key to boosting your time management.

When your workspace is cluttered, you might be too

A new study by researchers at Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress. Other research has shown that clutter can reduce creativity and productivity, and can make you less likely to achieve goals you set for yourself. Let’s face it: No one wants to feel stressed or scattered at work.

Clutter basically creates sensory overload, which leads to feelings of anxiety, says Latham Thomas, a certified doula and wellness expert who works with clients on “birthing their best selves” through holistic health practices. “When the environment is cluttered, it makes it very difficult to relax,” she says. “It puts you in a state of low-level fight or flight response.”

Mental Health Impact of Clutter

Having a cluttered workspace can actually cause anxiety and stress. Whether your home office or work office is messy, having clutter around you can make it harder to focus or feel relaxed. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done. The good news is, you don't have to go all-out Marie Kondo to reap the health benefits of having a clean and clear office.

You might be surprised to find out there are many mental health benefits of decluttering your workspace.

1. Clutter is distracting.

Clutter always creates a sense of disorganization and mess. It makes it difficult to organize your thoughts and focus on the task at hand. It draws your attention away from what you need to be working on. This can lead to missed deadlines, confusion about where things are, and overall lower productivity for you and your team. Having a clear, clean space allows you to think clearly, create effectively, and be more productive.

2. Clutter is associated with procrastination.

When you have too much stuff, making decisions about what to do with it all can be overwhelming so we tend to avoid making those decisions altogether which keeps us stuck with piles of clutter everywhere we turn.

3. Clutter makes us feel guilty.

Clutter makes us feel guilty because it's difficult to look at the mess we've made. By piling things up on our desks, we create the illusion of not having enough time to get things done. And if we don't have time to get things done, then there's no time for anything else. But it's also difficult to focus on the tasks we're meant to be doing when our workspace is a disaster zone.

Instead of feeling guilty about our mess, we can get rid of the clutter — and reclaim our productivity — by making a few changes in how we work.

4. Clutter causes stress.

It's easy to see how clutter can cause stress. You're always trying to keep your work environment organized, and there's a lot of stuff that isn't working for you. Storing files, hanging clothes, or storing your laptop in a messy pile are just a few examples of the ways you can add clutter to the everyday environment.

Avoiding the stress caused by clutter may seem like an impossible task, but it's not too difficult if you start small and tackle one area at a time. If you're already facing a pile-up of clutter, for example, fixing that problem with a storage solution can make living with clutter easier. But if not, it might be worth avoiding the clutter itself. Instead of keeping everything in one place, consider putting some things in storage or choosing a workspace layout that keeps things out of the way.

5. Clutter makes us angry and irritable.

Clutter affects your physical health as well as your mental health by creating an environment that can lead to an increase in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The immune system is suppressed when cortisol levels are elevated which can lead to illness and disease.

Researchers found that participants who were in a messy room actually spent more time looking at the negative images than they did the positive ones. This suggests that disorganization and chaos have a direct impact on our ability to focus, making it harder for us to concentrate on our work.

On the other hand, when we're in a clean space our minds are able to stay on task longer, which boosts productivity.

6. Clutter can make you feel depressed.

Clutter is depressing, both literally and figuratively. Clutter can make you feel hopeless, overwhelmed, anxious, guilty, out of control, and even ashamed. When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus and it can make you feel like giving up.


In the end, keeping your workspace clean, orderly, and decluttered can do a lot to positively impact your physical and mental health.

To most people, it may seem a little counterintuitive to think that decluttering might have a positive impact on your mental health. If anything, it seems like less clutter would equate to more space to spread out and relax. But the idea is actually pretty simple: decluttering your workspace can actually help reduce stress and anxiety by removing physical obstacles that are taking away from your usable working space. By creating workspaces that are organized, attractive, and functional, you can create an environment conducive to productivity and also promote emotional well-being in your workplace as well.

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