FocusFriday: Feeling stressed? Clean up your desk

By, Laurie Reidman, Guest Blogger

Welcome to my first Focus Friday blog post. 

I was pondering what to write when my fourteen year old daughter came into my home office.  As I struggled to see her face over the stacks of “important” papers and piles of newspapers and magazines scattered on top of my desk — she asked me what I was working on.  I told her that I was writing a blog post offering tips and techniques on how to be more focused amidst information overload. 

As we continued to play peek-a-boo in between the magazines and papers she smiled and said, “Mom, a clean desk is a happy desk,” and left my office.

Well, if that adage is true – I must not be a very happy camper.  Yet, those that work with me know that simply is not true.  I am a happy well adjusted worker who happens to take pride in my un-organizational skills.   Who cares if it takes a few extra minutes to find something amidst my “stack and pile” filing system?  I’m cheerful. I get the job done. Right? 

Beginning to doubt my tried and true system – I decided to do a bit of research about organization and stress. I found a treasure trove of data

Disorganization on the job makes people stressed, according to a study conducted by David Lewis, a British business psychologist who has made a career of mess, stress, and information overload.  He says that three out of four workers surveyed said they were more stressed when everything is a mess and they can’t find important documents when needed.

His survey also found that 43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least 2 or more times each week. 

Apparently I am not alone.

The fix?  It turns out my daughter was right.  Denise Landers, time management and productivity consultant and author of  Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey, cites a clean desk as the holy grail of being stress free on the job.  In a recent blog post she offers if I clean up my desk a bit I will be removing distractions from my field of vision and thus become even more focused and productive. 

I decide to try my own experiment and clean up my act a bit to see if I do feel a difference.  Now ….. if I can only find that piece of paper where I wrote my to-do list on so I can make sure I remember to do it ….. Hmmmmmm…..I know it was a small yellow one ….hang on …..I’ll find it…. It was here just a second ago….

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