Spring Cleaning your Office

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Spring-cleaning is an activity my German friends are particularly inclined to do. I assumed it had something to do with their culture, explaining their flushed cheeks and blissful expressions in the wake of their domestic blitz.

But it’s not just the Germans who have a penchant for shaking loose the dwelling as the weather warms. Around the globe various folk claim this annual ritual as their own, including sacred reasons like preparation for religious ceremonies like the Persian Nawruz, or Jewish Passover. In northern climes, it feels nice to have fresh air blowing through the fusty rooms at the end of a long winter.

As a South African enjoying a balmy climate, with the added delight of affordable hired help, the notion of spring-cleaning eluded me. Why would you clean differently from one week to the next simply because the season had turned? What is the point?

As it so happens, there really is a point. In fact, there are a number of terrific psychological reasons to rethink your living and working space, to decide what you truly need and to eliminate any lingering source of shambles and disorganisation.

Simply put, you feel better when you get rid of clutter. You spend less time looking for the stuff you need. You free up time for the truly important activities. Clearing space breeds clarity of thinking, making room for optimal creativity and productivity.

According to a 2013 study by the Association for Psychological Science, working at a tidy desk can promote healthy eating and generosity. This same research team believe that these effects might be transferable to the online experience.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you have to sift through lots of stuff on your hard drive or email in box, you’re more likely to slowed down and distracted from your purpose. According to researcher Kathleen Vohs, preliminary findings indicate that the “tidiness” of a web page can affect people’s behaviour.

When you consider spring-cleaning your office, it’s not about cleaning the windows and shaking out the rugs, however important such real time endeavour is. It’s more about sending off the old habits and attitudes that don’t serve you optimally, in order to make room for the new ones that help you function better in the world.

Australian Dr. Joseph Cilona points out that most people comprehend how their out environment reflects their inner world: “If we are feeling stressed, angry, or upset, we can often notice the impact on our home, car, work environments, and even self-care and grooming. Things can quickly get messier, dirtier, and less organized when we are struggling with extra stress and pressure.”

He says, “Our outer environment can influence our inner state as much as our inner state can impact our outer environment.”

So… you’re on board that this effort must be made. But where on earth do you begin? It appears that even small actions make a big difference. Try the one touch rule, for starters: If you touch a thing, either put it away or throw it away. Long term, doing this for ten minutes daily, you’ll soon enough acquire a valuable habit that reduces your stress significantly.

What else can you do to improve your office? Turns out there’s no shortage of smart advice. There’s no time like the present to make a new and organized start. Local small business, Elite Cleaning, have a bunch of tips for you. And if you need inspiration to start, check out the terrific images brought to you by Forbes!

Whatever level of spring cleaning you embrace, you can be sure that the dividends of a tidy space will soon pay dividends on the effort expended.

By Liesl Jobson