Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information

Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. From their report “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex”:

Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.

Or, to paraphrase in non-neuroscience jargon: When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.

The clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “Candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus a little, you’re still aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The annoyance also wears down your mental resources, making you more likely to become frustrated.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other physiological measurement tools to map the brain’s responses to organized and disorganized stimuli and to monitor task performance. The conclusions were strong — if you want to focus to the best of your ability and process information as effectively as possible, you need to clear the clutter from your home and work environment. This research shows that you will be less irritable, more productive, distracted less often, and able to process information better with an uncluttered and organized home and office.

Best Desk Organisation Techniques

Does your workspace need a revamp? An organized desk, along with a great office chair and office stool/bar stool, can be a great companion when you’re trying to get things done. When the “tools of your trade” are neatly placed in easily accessible spots, then you’re likely to be more productive and less frustrated that things aren’t where you need them to be.

In this article, we’ll help you with your “desk-scaping” and provide you with 5 of the best desk organization techniques.

1. It Starts with Your Layout

The first step towards an organized desk is to create a layout that’s going to work for you. If you use a computer, center the monitor on your desk and raise it to your eye level and at about 17 inches from your body. Then, place the items that you use most frequently on your dominant side so that you don’t have to reach across for them (and potentially knock other items over).

2. Mind Your Office Supplies

Stationery and supplies that you use daily should be placed on top of your desk with your desk fan & best desk lamp, while the items that you use less frequently can be placed in drawers. A good idea is to group similar items together so that you always know where they will be. For example, writing utensils can be kept in one holder, while your stapler and paper punch can be kept together in a separate tray (or drawer).

3. Keep Knick-Knacks Minimal

Personalizing your clean desk is a good thing, and pictures and mementos are often what help us to keep our sanity in check. Some even have their own electric kettle. A desk full of unnecessary clutter can be distracting, however, and knick-knacks should be kept minimal. We suggest that you keep no more than three personal items on your desk.

4. Make Sure You Have Enough White Space

White space or “free space” ensures that you have an area to review or sign documents. Keep a paper-sized area of white space next to your dominant side so that you do not have to rearrange your desk to accommodate new paperwork or a juicer/blender (firm favorite).

5. Reassess Your Desk Area Frequently

To keep an organized desk & mouse, you will need to practice frequent assessments and upkeep. Give your desk a regular scan to ensure everything is still in its correct space, and if there are any items that haven’t been recently used, perhaps give them a new spot in a drawer.

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