Woman at a cluttered desk

As I write this article, I am sitting in the middle of a war zone. There are toys everywhere, the sink is overflowing with dishes, and I swear an ant just walked across my son’s highchair tray. This is how I’ve always worked. I only have so many hours in the day, so I devote most of my kid-free time to work and creating, as opposed to chores and housework. I’ve always thought that this strategy made me a more productive writer, because I don’t use the pile of laundry as an excuse to procrastinate on work projects. However, I may be shooting myself in the foot.

If you work from home, you may not realize just how much your surroundings are affecting your life and business. Recent studies have proven that living in the midst of clutter on a regular basis literally clutters our minds. We are stressed and distracted by the mess, and if you’ve always lived this way, you probably don’t even realize it is happening. Here are just a few incentives to pull yourself away from the laptop and break out the Swiffer.

You’ll be more productive

When your mind is free from the distracting clutter, you can focus in on the task at hand. According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, our attention spans are limited, so if we are surrounded by a mess, we can’t concentrate.

The good news is that simply by tidying up your work space, you’ll immediately reap the rewards. Take five minutes every evening before you finish up for the day and put things back where they go. Plug in your laptop, stick the pens in a cup, and recycle any old papers. This way you’ll be able to start each day fresh.

You’ll feel less tired

It is hard to be your best at work when you’re exhausted. If clutter can distract us from work, it can also distract us from sleep. Clutter in your room can stress you out, leading to trouble falling asleep. Once you’re lying in bed feeling stressed, it is way too easy to start thinking about everything that is currently stressing you out. Seeing that pile of workout clothes in the corner can remind you that you haven’t worked out all week, because work has been so crazy, because your new boss is a tyrant, and on it goes.

Then in the morning it’s no wonder than you feel tired and drained. Before going to bed each night, spend a few minutes putting away clothes and items from the day. Once you’re in the habit of this nightly ritual, it will only take two minutes, but will help you feel more rested and thus more productive the next day.

You’ll stay healthier

If you’re not healthy, nothing else matters, especially work. Anyone who has tried to keep their business going through a personal or family health crisis knows how stressful that can be. So if the mere act of keeping your home cleaner could keep you healthy, would you try it?

According to a study from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, women who consider their homes messy or unorganized have higher cortisol levels overall. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and when it is chronically elevated, we become sick.

According to Reader’s Digest, people who regularly perform chores like mowing their lawn and cleaning their houses have a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who don’t. If your home has been feeling out of control lately, schedule a full day to tackle the mess. You will probably dread it, but once it’s done, everything in your life will be better!

You’ll eat better

When you fuel your body with energizing, nourishing food, you can’t help but be better in life, and that includes your business. Turns out living in a clean environment makes you more likely to eat clean too! According to a study in Psychological Science, when study participants were placed in an organized room, they chose healthier snacks and even donated more money to charity. However, the participants in the messy room felt more creative.

Working from home can definitely turn into a slippery slope of constant snacking. To keep your food choices healthy, strive to tidy up your kitchen each night so you’re prepared for a healthy and productive day.

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