Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I didn’t have a home office when my employer issued WFH orders last March, but I managed to set up a niche in my apartment for work. By December, the space had accumulated 9 months’ worth of clutter from things like office supplies, books, boxes, and papers. The messier my workspace got, the more anxiety I had about dealing with it. So, I spent an entire day during the last week of 2020 tidying it up. I feel so much better, but I’m afraid that I’ll slide right back again. How do I keep from repeating a pileup of pandemic clutter?
Answer: Congratulations for reclaiming your workspace! Research shows that you’re not alone when it comes to feeling anxiety from accumulated clutter and positive feelings after decluttering. Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, reducing our ability to focus. The visual distraction of clutter causes cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory.
To keep the clutter at bay, think of this simple two-word tip: follow through. Here are some practical examples:
- No more refills of coffee for the day? Don’t leave your empty cup sitting on your desk. Follow through by walking it to the kitchen, washing it, and putting it back in the cupboard then and there or putting in the dishwasher.
- Paid a bill by check? Follow through by filing the receipt, putting away the stamps, and walking the envelope to the mailbox.
- Finished work for the day? Follow through by closing your browser tabs. Here’s a recent article from Wired with tips on keeping your tabs in check if you’re afraid that you’ll lose track of things you want to read later.
You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo on your home office space. But if you want to continue to enjoy the mental health effects of keeping a tidy workspace, the follow through mantra will keep the pandemic clutter in check.