Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

Why we’re all wrong about a cluttered desk being an unproductive desk

It’s a belief held by many in business: if your desk is full of clutter and you can’t see through the post-its, notepads and print outs, your levels of productivity must be low.

Well now it’s time to rethink that stance, as a new study by Yell Business of 1,500 small business owners in the UK, has debunked the notion. Finding that the majority of the owners of successful, profit-making small businesses in the UK (94 per cent to be exact) admit to also being the owner of an ‘extremely cluttered desk’.

With profit being the biggest result of strong productivity when it comes to business, it’s safe to say that having a cluttered desk should no longer be a worry following the findings, but instead simply a sign of a busy diary.

However, that’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a method to the madness, as a keyboard covered in expense forms is helping nobody out. So, we’ve gathered some tips from a group of workplace interior design experts on how to manage your clutter, and get the very best from it in a working day.

Keep the important items close

Gareth Jones, Commercial Manager at Kit Out My Office said: “It comes down to the definition of clutter. As the findings show, many people admit that their desk is cluttered, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t all necessary to their job. De-cluttering could mean that you’re moving important items out of arms-reach that help you in your daily routine, so if you do de-clutter, make sure it is things that you don’t use regularly.”

It’s not clutter if it’s organised clutter!

Georgina Burnett, Interiors Coach & Vlogger said: “Mess and clutter can be one of the biggest contributors to procrastination, which in turn tends to stunt productivity. There is a big difference though between prioritising an immaculate desk and just keeping it tidy enough to get cracking on the task in hand – and find the necessary files or tools! 

One of the habits of successful people is that they can see beyond what is in front of them and not be bogged down by the daily chores that distract others.

If you can find a happy medium though, whereby you keep on top of what’s in front of you so that it’s at least an organised chaos, this is likely to make you more effective and also reduce stress levels in the long term. 

Replace the unnecessary with the inspirational

Daniel Walsh, Marketing Manager of Hunts Office said: “Eliminate visual clutter & unnecessary items – do you really need that hole punch or pen holder? Not only does a messy desk impede on your productivity, it also impacts on your fellow colleague’s perception of you.

Embrace a minimalist workspace and reap the benefits. That said, do enrich your workspace with art or an organic element to empower your working environment.”

This being an approach also echoed by Emma Brindley, Resident Group Interior Designer at Redrow Homes, as she offers some tips on how to go about adding to your office to bring some more inspiration and management to the clutter:

Consider your wall space and really think about what you need. If you are from a creative background, you are more likely to need to display work. Frame large cork boards and chalk boards with copper, for a contemporary way to keep your work in order as well as having that all important inspiration around you”.

Pay attention to the home office

Yell’s study also found that the home office is as popular as ever in 2017, with half of all small business owners in the UK stating that they spend the majority of their working life, working from home. 49% confirming it as the environment they feel most productive in.

Taking that into account, the home office is just as important – if not more, when it comes to clutter. Because while it’s been shown to not harm productivity, keeping things in order is even more important as there needs to be a divide between the home and office. Keeping things in order is paramount, something Emma Brindley stands by, citing an ordered and inspirational home office as the key to success.

“The home office or ‘study’ as it is traditionally referred to, can be hard to get right. The ability to immerse yourself back into the comfort of your home life in a couple of steps means the average home-based employee requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. But when the balance is right the results can be profound – less stress from the commercial office, difficult colleagues and poor resources often means a more productive work day.

“Make sure you have plenty of storage –  wire baskets and weathered wooden crates are always a great industrial inspired addition the office and will stop any ‘clutter’ overflowing outside of the home office.

Finally, make sure you finish off your design with the things that matter most, a small wall gallery of family and friends will guarantee to brighten your day should the work load prove heavy.”