Don’t delude yourself into thinking your cluttered desk isn’t zapping productivity. You’ve worked too hard on other aspects of your career to let office disorganization undermine you.

You know the scene: It’s early morning and you’re owning the day. Lights turn green and traffic parts. With Spotify blasting in your ears and a Red Bull in hand, you stride into the still-darkened and quiet office. You’re about to rock out two hours of colossal BD calling.

Then, BAM!

You turn the corner and catch sight of the destruction zone called your desk. It looks like a Hurricane and a Volcano had a baby. And in that instant, your energy, focus and drive all evaporate.

But, wait. You’re a Sales Guru – a fast thinker and resourceful. You know where everything is and don’t need a clean desk to rule the phone. No one can see through the phone anyway, right?

As an experienced salesman and sales ops leader, my response is simple: Bullshit. Don’t delude yourself into thinking your cluttered desk isn’t zapping productivity. You’ve worked too hard on other aspects of your career to let office disorganization undermine you. Consider the steps you already take to support your professional success:

  • You strategize. You have a territory plan, a monthly plan, a weekly plan.
  • You invest in clothes, accessories, shoes, etc. Your image is polished.
  • You research. You read up on clients and study competitors. You know what’s hot in the market.

But avoiding the 10 minutes a day to organize your desk in preparation for the next morning? Don’t shortchange yourself. Get organized and stay organized. For every 10 minutes you spend prepping for the next day, you’ll get an hour back in productivity. Who turns down a 500% Time ROI?

Buried Desk? Persistence and Focus Suffer; Stress Thrives
Multiple studies have shown correlations between increased organization and better productivity, efficiency and profitability. There’s something so common sense about it. Staying focused and persistent in the face of a challenging or stressful activity – like cold calling – requires mental toughness and self-motivation. You need every ounce of energy pushing you forward, driving you.

Simply put, office clutter slows you down. It produces physical and visual chaos, and it brutally challenges focus. Neuroscientists at Princeton University found that clutter distracts your brain and stymies your ability to process information. Their studies revealed that physical clutter in your immediate environment (i.e. your desk) competes for your attention and responsiveness, resulting in decreased performance AND increased anxiety. Sales is hard enough. Why make it harder? For most of us, office clutter invites unnecessary stress.

While clutter is undeniably linked to poorer task performance and greater stress, some of you may counter my advice for an organized desk with other research that links messy desks to enhanced creativity and innovation. Yes, that connection has also been shown but remember…you’re in sales – not graphic design.

Let’s go back to the beginning of your day. Keep the music. Drink the Red Bull. Stay committed to your BD calls. But this time, as you round the corner, know exactly what you’re going to find – the clear desk and organized office space you prepped yesterday.

You’re focused. You’re organized. You nail it.


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