Allow me to introduce Exhibit A: My work desk.
As you know, I moved to a new job posting within my company a couple of months ago. The desk I took over looked something like this:
(This picture was taken after I tidied up the desk a little so I could put my laptop on the table. When I first took over, I didn’t even have a shred of empty desk space.)
I didn’t have time for a major decluttering exercise during office hours, so I dragged my girlfriend down to the office on a SATURDAY to help me with a clean-up exercise. Yes, that’s how desperate I was.
We brought masks, Dettol wet wipes, gloves, and got down to work. We threw away about 12 boxes and garbage bags full of stuff. After about 3 hours of work and some subsequent spring-cleaning in the weeks ahead, I finally had a workable workspace:
Yes! I’m proud to announce that the desk is no longer classified as a biohazard risk by the World Health Organisation.
Some people claim that they can’t live without a mess, or that they can find their stuff more efficiently on a messy desk. But I disagree. People who say that obviously haven’t experienced the joy of decluttering.
Here’s why having a decluttered space will rock your socks:
You get peace of mind
Your brain has a limited capacity to remember stuff. When you have a messy desk, you need to remember things like “the stapler is under the pile of papers on my left”. Having dozens of thoughts like these floating around in your head takes up brain capacity – leaving less room for other more important work.
On the other hand, a decluttered and organized desk takes the effort away from your brain. You don’t have to remember stuff because you can actually SEE everything you need in your in-tray.
You also remove that nagging thought that you might potentially have more stuff to do. That way, you can stop worrying about what dangers are lurking under your piles of papers and focus on what’s in front of you.
You become happier
In the book “The Happiness Project”, Gretchen Rubin spent a year doing things that would make her happier. One of the first things she did was to declutter her life. Here’s Gretchen:
“I craved an existence of order and serenity – which, translated into real life, meant a household with coats hung in the closet and spare rolls of paper towels”
There’s a lot of research that your physical environment has a disproportionate impact on your spiritual happiness.
For example, imagine how you’d feel if you came home every day to a living room covered in piles of laundry and unopened mail. Now, put that image aside and imagine that your living room now looks like something you’d see on Qanvast.
Which scenario makes you happier?
Get your environment right, and happiness will naturally follow.
You get momentum
A couple of months ago, I was in a bit of a funk. I was stressed, overworked, and I felt like there weren’t enough hours to deal with the mountain of work I had. So what did I do? I decluttered.
I shut down my laptop and spent an evening tidying my room. I threw things away, put things back in their proper place, and found some clothes to donate to charity.
My work problems didn’t go away, but my life improved in a small, tangible way. It was a small win, but still a win nonetheless. That win was enough to make me feel a little lighter, which inspired me to sit down and work through my tasks.
When it comes to work and in life, momentum is everything. One small win leads to another, and before you know it, you’re rolling in a snowball of wins.
And you can start it off with the smallest of wins: Decluttering.
More Isn’t Always Better
Decluttering seems like one of those things that your mom might be obsessed with before Chinese New Year. What does it have to do with living a rich life?
For one, it improves you life in the ways that I talked about: Peace of mind, happiness, momentum. These are things that have very little to do with money, yet they make you richer in ways that money can’t buy (at least, not directly).
Also, here’s something to think about: Maybe MORE isn’t always BETTER. Many people are on a never-ending treadmill of getting a better car, a better house, more clothes, more apps, more gadgets, MORE.
But maybe instead of striving for MORE (which is never enough), maybe we should strive for LESS. Less detritus. Less frustration. More peace of mind. And more time to focus – really focus – on the people that bring us joy.
Image credit: tomas carrillo,