You may conceive you’re not bothered by your messy office filing cabinets or the stacks of paper on your office desk. But scientists show that our brains are gratified by order and that constant visual reminders of a disorganised environment drains our cognitive resources and reduces our ability to focus. They also found that when participants cleared the clutter from their office environment, they were able to better concentrate and process information, and their productivity increased.
Multiple research found that individuals who felt overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” in their office were more likely to procrastinate. Clutter to our environment can also affect our general mental health, making us feel stressed, uptight, or depressed.
Research has identified that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were higher in mothers whose home was cluttered and disorganised; elevated cortisol levels sustained over time can lead to restlessness and depression. Vice-versa, researchers examined the interplay between productivity and workplace clutter and found that stress and emotional exhaustion cause workers to make delayed decisions and to keep more material for all their ongoing tasks within easy reach, leading to a messy office space.
Our relationships with others can be affected by our disorganisation and messy work desk. In one study, participants with disorganised and messy office desks were perceived to be less meticulous, more neurotic, and less agreeable. Such perceptions of an employee are most likely to negatively influence the way that other office colleagues interact with them and may have negative consequences on their career progression.
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