A full day’s work can leave many of us drained, and for those that are rife with energy, the plans following a day at the office usually involve a quick-change into something more comfortable and a quicker turnaround to get out for the next social. But the work bag stays put on the couch. The dish in the sink from a speedy meal the night before continues to soak. Perhaps you rushed out the door in the morning and didn’t have time to make the bed. How long have those pajama pants been in the corner?
It can be funny to think about, eliciting a self-inflicted eye roll, but items out of place, even minor clutter, can have consequences.
Neuroscience tells us that a cluttered workspace can have a direct, negative impact on the amount of work that gets done by pulling the brain in different directions, inhibiting both creativity and productivity. I should probably find a drawer for my multicoloured Post-Its, and I haven’t the faintest as to how the painter’s tape got out here.
New paragraph, less stuff on desk. I think it’s working!
Aside from focus, the mind can often parrot the state of the environment; that is to say, chaos in the home, even organized chaos, can have an impact on our focus and mindset.
The space we live in should be comfortable – the creature comfort of familiarity, even with a mess, can be the norm for some – but does that make it okay to do? Within reason, yes, but adding clutter to the environment can have a lasting effect by making it harder to relax through a created sense of guilt: “I need to clean this.” It can also produce anxiety, especially as the work needed to alleviate the situation grows larger and further beyond your control.
Organizational psychology has shown us that in most environments in our lives, even classrooms, orderliness becomes a metric for an individual’s enjoyment of the space.
So what’s the answer, then?
It starts with self-discipline. We all crave structure, but it can be hard after a long day to maintain that structure. Done with that tea mug? Put it in the dishwasher, or give it a quick rinse in the sink. Take the extra minute and make the bed in the morning. In fact, if a task takes less than 5 minutes, get it done – see if that doesn’t improve your day! Alas, the problem can sometimes come back to time. Maybe you get home at 5, and have dinner plans at 6. Maybe you just want to spend the weekend kicking back, after a stressful stint at the office.