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A Cluttered Office Can Cost You

Nothing affects your productivity more than the state of your office.

Although decluttering your office feels like a daunting task, you should view it as a valuable use of your time. In the long run, you’ll be more organized, prepared and productive.

“You may think that you don’t have time to organize your office, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider,” – Marty Basher, home organization expert

Start by visualizing the office you want. What will motivate you? What makes sense with your workflow? Design it around how YOU work, not how you think an office should look. Once you know what you want, make a written plan to follow so you’re using your time efficiently. If you feel the job will take too much time out of your workday, separate the area into sections and tackle one section a day. By the end of the week, you should have a tidy office that motivates you!


The most important part is to create a clean, open space that allows you to focus on the task at hand. A cluttered office, with a lot of visual distractions, can interrupt your workflow and reduce your productivity. You lose documents and ideas in large stacks of paper, your pen collection keeps growing even though half of them don’t work, and your walls start drowning in motivational memes and family photos. Now, this doesn’t mean you should throw away your family photos or kid’s artwork, but try to stick to a few pieces and keep things fresh by swapping them out every once in a while.

The space should help with your workflow, not hinder it. Make sure the items and files you use the most are the closest to you. The less you have to move around your office to get tasks done, the more efficient you’ll be. Try to give your desk a left-to-right flow by keeping new items on your left side, processing them as they move through the middle of your desk, and then placing them on your right side to be filed or recycled.

Be realistic and part with unnecessary clutter by asking yourself these questions:

“Clutter exists because our brain tricks us into thinking everything's important,” she states. “Well, don’t believe what your brain is telling you, at least not all the time! Ask yourself these simple questions in order to make an easier decision. From the answers to those questions, you should have a good idea of what to do with it — even if you don't like the answer.” – Kate Hart


Too often, items end up on your desk because we don’t know where to put them or the little storage we do have, is full. Office cabinets and desks don’t usually have great storage to begin with, leaving it up to you to utilize it the best you can. You can do this with cabinet inserts, drawer organizers and desk top storage. Get inspiration from organizational tools you use in your home! Once you’ve organized your storage space, use labels to make it easy to find exactly what you need and to ensure you’re putting stuff back in the correct place.

If you still don’t have enough storage, try floating shelves and filing cabinets that keep your floor space clear while utilizing your often-unused wall space. Think vertical!


Centralizing your files digitally can reduce the paper clutter in your office, helping you find files you need more efficiently. If possible, instead of keeping physical copies of files, scan them to create digital files and recycle the originals. Just remember to back up your files regularly to protect them. This will clear up a lot of much needed space on your desk and in your cabinets. Once you’ve got them scanned, create folders where you can store like files. Coming up with a good filing system is so important. You don’t want to find yourself, years down the road, searching through hundreds of files that you shoved into one folder.

Next, go through your desktop. Having it covered in icons only makes it hard to find programs and files you need. If you’re someone who stores files on your desktop, make sure you only have the files you’re currently working on or need daily. The rest should be filed away in your document folders after you’re done with them.

Lastly, set aside time to sort through your email. If your inbox is a mess, it’s hard to keep your tasks organized. Delete all unneeded emails, flag ones you need to answer and create folders to store old emails you may need to revisit. Once you’ve got your inbox organized, keep on top of it by setting aside time in your workday to go through any new ones.

Final thoughts…

A cluttered office can affect both your physical and mental health. Physically, a messy office can harbor dust and bacteria. Mentally, the lack of productivity can lead to anxiety, as people find it hard to focus when there’s so much going on around them. If your workplace feels out of control, your workday will too. So, get a fresh start to your morning by taking a few minutes to clear off your desk at the end of the day. This will help motivate you to get to work!

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