It’s officially spring, and with the season comes a desire to start anew. Have a business plan you’ve been itching to get started? Need to update your marketing strategy but can’t seem to find your way? Know you should create a will but having a hard time taking that first step? Cleaning can be an excellent way to jumpstart your motivation and can have a number of positive effects, from refocusing your energy to increasing productivity and even starting and exercise program.
Research has shown that the simple act of decluttering can help reduce stress, increase focus, and lead to overall wellness. Whether it’s a messy desk full of loose paper clips, sticky notes, and a seemingly endless supply of mismatched promotional pens, or a file cabinet full of old documents, clutter prevents us from zeroing in on important tasks and long-term goals.
Dedicate thirty minutes to decluttering a small area like your desk. Corral loose office supplies; complete lingering tasks on sticky notes; toss out trash; and weed out any unnecessary desk accessories (when was the last time you used all those highlighters?). In just a short amount of time, you’ll have cleared several weeks’ or months’ worth of clutter.
Clutter prevents you from focusing because it creates too much stimulation. All the objects on your desk are literally vying for your brain’s attention.Remove the unnecessary stimuli and you’ll find yourself more easily drawn to your principal goals.
And with less clutter you’ll find less stress. A multi-year study conducted by UCLA demonstrated that levels of stress hormones spiked when people discussed the clutter in their homes. It’s a strong physiological reaction to a problem that can easily be resolved. The simple act of tidying up our physical space can bring clarity and serenity to our mental one.
In addition to increasing focus and reducing stress, a clean home can lead to a more active lifestyle. A study from Indiana University found that the tidiness of a home correlated to increased exercise for the home’s residents. The act of cleaning itself can be a pretty good workout and may be driven by the same personality trait that drives exercise: self-regulation, or the power to work toward future goals regardless of current mood or situation.
Self-regulation isn’t easy but is involved in countless worthwhile activities besides cleaning and exercising: from studying hard to entrepreneurship to taking that first step and doing things we’ve been putting off. It’s essential for following through with goals, whether public or personal. And as these studies indicate, one activity involving self-regulation can easily lead to another. The small act of cleaning a desk can lead to greater focus on your business goals, and possibly to widespread cleaning, which in turn can lead to increased physical activity. It may seem small, but decluttering can pack a powerful punch.