“Is a Clutter-Free Desk Helping You to Think Clearly?” – Rodric Leerling

“Is a Clutter-Free Desk Helping You to Think Clearly?” – Rodric Leerling

I recently re-painted my office interior and used the opportunity to also clean my workspace. Some of the clutter om my desk distracted me during office work and now was the time to make a big sweep. Post-it notes, business cards, magazines, foreign coins, notepads, etc. I even changed the position of my desk clock.

I always thought a clear desk equals a clear mind. And on the opposite, a messy desk representing a messy mind. But on the other hand, I also realize the little things around me are giving fond memories. Of my family, great travel destinations, things accomplished. My desk is where I spend most of my business time, so it should make me feel warm, home and welcome.

I also know of people who just love chaos and a messy desk helps them to think more clearly. Something to do with visual and mental clutter.  I read somewhere that famous thinkers and writers such as Albert Einstein and Roald Dahl have been notorious for their untidy desks. So, it’s not that clear cut after all. Apparently, visual and mental clutter in fact forces people to focus and think more clearly.

Reading about the different schools of thought, I found a Japanese formula, originally developed to create more productive factories. But proving very useful for office spaces too! The 5-S method, based on five Japanese words starting with an S. 1) ‘Seiri’ or sort/sorting. Do I really need this here? 2) ‘Seiton’ or set in order. Eliminate what you don’t need. 3)’Seiso’ or shine. Clean every object. 4) ‘Seiketsu’ or standardize. Process your way of working. 5) ‘Shitsuke’ or sustain. Being committed to being aware of what is going on.

Concluding, it’s not the same for everyone. Some people flourish on chaos and get inspired by it, while others need a clean environment to think clearly. Maybe the Japanese ‘seiso’ is a good start for all of us – just clean your desk and make it shine!



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