4 Reasons A Clutter-Free Workspace Can Be Damaging

You may have heard a few of these sayings: A clear desk equals a clear mind. A cluttered workspace means a cluttered mind. It’s hard to find what you need in a cluttered workspace.

Most of the productivity gurus will say something along those lines. They’ll tell you how much more productive you’ll be if only you cleaned your workspace.

Can I be honest? I’ve tried to have a clutter-free workspace. I’ve cleaned my desk only to reclean it. When it’s all said and done, I then have the anxiety of trying to keep my workspace clean.

Maybe I’m more like Albert Einstein who once said “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Or I could be like Steve Jobs. Check out his desk.

A clutter-free workspace hasn’t worked for me. It didn’t work well for Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, or Thomas Edison either…

Here’s why I enjoy having a cluttered workspace.

4 Reasons A Clutter-Free Workspace Can Be Damaging

1. You shift your focus from getting things done to decluttering:

When I worked in a clutter-free environment, my focus went from working on task to fretting over what would cause my workspace to become cluttered. I felt my energy drain as I moved my pen only to realize it was no longer in its place.

Or what about the latest bill? I’d place it on the desk, knowing it is right in front of me, ready to be taken care of.


My mind would scream at me. I would become distracted. I couldn’t get work done because my clutter-free workspace told me I had messed it up.

2. You can struggle to find things:

You may think this sounds strange. How can a clutter-free workspace make things harder to find?

For me, my clutter is organized chaos. I have placed clutter specifically on my desk and I know where the things I need to access regularly are.

By moving things around to a more organized structure, I begin to lose track of where my tools of the trade are. I struggle to find the cord to my Blue Yeti. Or I forget where I had placed the notecard I was going to write to a friend.

In the clutter, I strangely know where my tools, my notecards, and the things I need are.

3. You can feel the joy sucked out of you:

There’s something enjoyable I find about a cluttered workspace. I feel like there’s things moving and shaking where I work.

The look of a messy, cluttered workspace tells me I’m being productive. It also lets me know I have things to do.

I love the look. It draws me in and allows me to get my best work done.

As I clean up the clutter, I feel the opposite of Marie Kondo. I feel the joy sucked out of me. I feel sadness.

Don’t let Marie Kondo or other people tell you how to feel about your cluttered workspace. It’s okay to have clutter in your life.

4. You can have increased anxiety:

The goal of having a clutter-free workspace is a noble one. The goal is also an anxiety-inducing nightmare.

I have found myself constantly feeling like I’ve not done enough to keep my workspace clean. I feel like I’m a failure because not neat or organized enough.

The feelings of anxiety flood over me. I feel frustrated. I feel agitated. And I want it all to end.

So I’ve gone back to a cluttered workspace. My anxiety levels are down, my joy is back up, and I can focus better on what really matters.

Question: How do you feel about clutter-free workspaces? Are they for you or do you hate them?

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