I ask myself this as I look at the state of my desk.  Working from home these past few months has really made me miss the trek to the office.  At first, it was great not having to sit in Melbourne traffic to get to work.  This wore thin over time and my work hours began to blur.  As any business owner knows, hours aren’t regular until you have great business systems and processes in place.

However, I don’t know anyone who was set up for such a large business disruption, the likes of 2020.  Work and home life have meshed together into one endless paper trail.  Running two businesses with five children means I get A LOT of stuff dumped on my desk. 

I know exactly how that makes me feel – I dread sitting down to start work.  It is overwhelming to look at and frustrating to try and find things.  My workload seems twice as big as it is because I spend the first hour of my day sorting through everything.  I did some research into the realities of having a messy desk. 

What does having a messy desk say about me?  What I wanted to know was, is this mess stopping me from achieving my big business goals?

Are you a business genius?

Historically, geniuses are depicted with messy desks – so I justified things that way to myself for a while. It’s been said this is because they were super productive. But historical geniuses were asking and answering big scientific/philosophical/artistic questions. They weren’t trying to run the world like us modern-day female entrepreneurs.  They didn’t feel the pressure of a signed permission slip for a school trip, an unpaid gas bill or a missed birthday party because the paperwork was lost on your desk.

Tidy doesn’t have to mean barren, however. It is important to make sure that your space reflects you.  The experiment written about by Economist  Tim Harford shows that if you have workers, their inclusion in how their work environment is presented is vitally important for productivity.  So personalising your workspace is actually good for your productivity.  In fact, having your vision board in your workspace is both personal and excellent motivation to get things done.

Being individual doesn’t mean cluttered either.

A messy desk can actually restrict your brain’s capacity to focus and process information. 

I am a big believer in my desk being representative of my brain.  If it is piled high with paperwork, pens, dishes and everything my kids just dumped on me – it’s just simply overwhelming.  I can’t find things.  I miss deadlines because things are buried.  I don’t like being caught off guard, so when vital information is sitting under a plate with a crust of Vegemite sandwich on it. It’s unnecessary stress on me – and just gross.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Here are some words of wisdom from others who think the same.

Veteran productivity expert and creator of ‘Getting Things Done’ David Allen says 

“when your space is filled up with things you haven’t organised, all of those things are constantly ‘yelling’ at you.” 

I hear you!  It is deafening sometimes.  It is the voice in your head that starts to fill you with negative talk.  As mindset is so important to our success, we just can’t have that going on.

NBC Business Culture writer Julianne Pepitone says that 

“the fix could merely be vowing on Clean Off Your Desk Day to take a few minutes every morning to de-clutter before you begin work.”

This is great advice.  As a night owl, my preference is to do this before I go to bed. Mornings can be hard enough for a night owl, so walking into a calm and tidy space suits me better than starting the day cleaning up and getting organised.

Journalist Mohit Tater says that 

“According to CallDrip, a study by the National Association of Professional Organisers found that cluttered workspaces can lead to a company’s financial loss equivalent to 10% of a manager’s salary.”

What are your thoughts so far?  Are you inspired to get busy cleaning, sorting and tidying?  Research shows that working at a clean and tidy desk may promote healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality. For many of us this would provoke breaking out the spray and wipe, heading out to Officeworks for folders, in trays and archive boxes, BUT – there is also evidence that says being a bit messy has its own merits.

Science Daily reported that a messy desk invokes

“creative thinking and stimulates new ideas”. 

Entrepreneurs are known for their ingenuity, so doesn’t it make sense that the time spent getting tidy and organised may seem like an overvalued investment when there are more important things to pursue?

So which side of the desk are you sitting at – the super clean, pristine, everything at your fingertips side of the desk, or can we not see you sitting there because there is so much stuff piled up? 

If you really want to get rid of all that paperwork and get things in order you might want to start using technology to help you out.  You will find everything you need in Top Apps & Tools to Help Streamline Your Business eBook, which you can get here for free.

Share your ideas with me – on social media, by email, or book a 30 minute session with me and let’s turn your inspiration into action., book a free 30 minute session with me.