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How Clutter Can Be Devastating to You and Your Team

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How Clutter Can Be Devastating to You and Your Team

Each of us at some point or another deal with “Clutter” – mentally and more frequently in our office – specifically on our desks and work areas. Uncontrolled clutter can be devastating to you and your team, and it sends the wrong message to your customers.

Early in my career I suffered from “clutteritis” (not sure if that’s a word but it fits here). I was at USLIFE and serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources when I had to admit to and “own” the fact that I was suffering from clutteritis. This revelation took place for me when my boss – the Chairman & CEO – walked into my office took one look around and said, “Chris, if I ever wanted anything lost, I would send it to you!” Then he turned around and left. Multiple files on my desk, more on the floor and yet even more debris on my windowsill. I was losing the clutter battle and didn’t realize it.

That day and those words have stuck with me over the years.

I use this story periodically with my clients. A close cousin to clutteritis and a symptom of it is multi-tasking (or as I call it “multi-dumb”). But being “multi-dumb” will be the subject of a future Wake-Up call.

I had a recent discussion on clutter with a client. He was concerned that the office appearance was sending the wrong message to clients and prospective employees. Right after that discussion, I I came across the following article summary. If you can relate to this, then it’s time to admit that you’re suffering from “clutteritis” and take action to find your cure.

There’s Scientific Evidence That Clutter Causes Anxiety

February 1st, 2018
By D.G. Sciortino

Do you become frustrated when your house is a mess and looks like a bomb went off? Your dog had an accident, your kids didn’t clean their rooms, and your spouse left dishes in the sink.

Studies show that clutter and mess actually causes us anxiety.

“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives,” Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter wrote in an article for Psychology Today.

Related: 4 Ways to Effectively Manage Distractions

 There are 8 major reasons why Carter believes this:

  1. Clutter overwhelms us because it causes excessive stimuli, so our senses go into overdrive
  2. It distracts us from other things we’d like to focus on
  3. It makes it harder to mentally and physically relax
  4. It signals to our minds that our work is never done
  5. It also causes anxiety because we must think about how we are going to clean everything up
  6. It can impede productivity and creativity
  7. It makes it harder for us to find what we need and takes up space for doing other necessary things on our list
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