Procurement 13 April 2017

We’re wrong about a cluttered desk being unproductive

A keyboard covered in expense forms is probably unhelpful

Writing for Yell Business, working space consultant Richard Paul dispels the myth that a cluttered desk inhibits productivity. He asked interior design experts for tips to make more of your clutter.

It’s a popular belief that if you’re sat at a cluttered desk, you’re stunting your own productivity, with the piles of notes, pens and post-its acting as a distraction.

However, it’s now time for owners of cluttered desks around the country to rejoice, as a recent study has debunked the commonly-held notion.

A new survey from Yell Business has shown that most owners from successful, profit-making small businesses in the UK – 94 per cent to be exact – admitted to also being the owner of an “extremely cluttered desk”.

With profit being the biggest sign of productivity when it comes to business, it’s safe to say that having a cluttered desk should no longer be a worry, but instead the sign of a busy company.

That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a method to the madness –  a keyboard covered in expense forms is helping nobody out.

Keep the important items close

Commercial manager at Kit Out My Office, Gareth Jones, said: “It comes down to the definition of clutter. As the findings show, many people admit that their desk is cluttered, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t all necessary to their job.

“De-cluttering could mean that you’re moving important items out of arms reach that help you in your daily routine, so if you do de-clutter, make sure it is things that you don’t use regularly.”

It’s not clutter if it’s organised clutter

Interiors coach and vlogger, Georgina Burnett, said: “Mess and clutter can be one of the biggest contributors to procrastination, which in turn tends to stunt productivity.

“There is a big difference though between prioritising an immaculate desk and just keeping it tidy enough to get cracking on the task in hand, and find the necessary files or tools.

“One of the habits of successful people is that they can see beyond what is in front of them and not be bogged down by the daily chores that distract others.

“If you can find a happy medium though, whereby you keep on top of what’s in front of you so that it’s at least an organised chaos, this is likely to make you more effective and also reduce stress levels in the long-term.”

Replace the unnecessary with the inspirational

Marketing manager at Hunts Office, Daniel Walsh, added: “Eliminate visual clutter & unnecessary items – do you really need that hole punch or pen holder?

“Not only does a messy desk impede on your productivity, it also impacts on your colleague’s perception of you. Embrace a minimalist workspace and reap the benefits. That said, do enrich your workspace with art or a plant to empower your working environment.”

Emma Brindley, an interior designer at Redrow Homes, echoed this approach. She offered tips on how to bring some more inspiration and management to the clutter.

“Consider your wall space and really think about what you need. If you are from a creative background, you are more likely to need to display work,” she said.

Pay attention to the home office

Yell’s study also found that the home office is as popular as ever in 2017, with half of all small business owners in the UK stating that they spend most their life, working from home.

Taking that into account, the home office is just as important – if not more, when it comes to clutter. While it’s been shown to not harm productivity, keeping things in order is even more important, as there needs to be a divide between the home and office.

Brindley cited an ordered and inspirational home office as the key to her success. She went on to say: “The home office or ‘study’ as it is traditionally referred to, can be hard to get right. The ability to immerse yourself back into the comfort of your home life in a couple of steps means the average home-based employee requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation.

But when the balance is right the results can be profound – less stress from the commercial office, difficult colleagues and poor resources often means a more productive work day.

“Make sure you have plenty of storage –  wire baskets and weathered wooden crates are always a great addition the office and will stop any clutter overflowing outside of the home office.

Finally, make sure you finish off your design with the things that matter most, a small wall gallery of family and friends will guarantee to brighten your day should the work load prove heavy.”

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