Isn’t it interesting how being clean is associated with being productive and organised? I mean, they aren’t the same thing, at all, but it’s pretty much considered a universal truth, and can be found in most cultures around the world. This universality implies that there’s something deeper at play than just surface level belief. Instead, it’s rooted in a deeper biological process shared by all of us. According to an article by the Royal Society, one possible mechanism driving this association is our relationship with disgust.
What is disgust?
Disgust is a primary human emotion, recognised with the same scrunched up nose, flared nostrils, furrowed brows, tightened lips, and retracted head. These facial contortions act as a means of avoiding and protecting against parasites, disease and infection.
It’s been found that the inclination to be more orderly and organised is actually an offshoot of the disgust response. That what a neat person feels when they enter a messy room is not sadness, anger, or anxiousness, it’s disgust. So, rather than labelling someone (or yourself!) as a clean-freak, it’s more accurate to describe them (and you) as more sensitive to disgust.
So how does this affect my productivity?
Disgust is a powerful biological response that guides our emotions, actions, and behaviour. Our productivity and organisation is simply an extension of this. Our sense of disgust triggers as an evolutionary response to avoid diseases and infection. This is such a powerful reaction that it affects us physiologically. We want as little to do with and as much distance away from things that disgust us. A visually dirty-looking office triggers this negative response in two ways.
Trigger 1: Disorganised spaces with scattered material make your space appear less “known”. There aren’t any clear, empty spaces for your eyes to explore, so they’re drawn to shadows, gaps, holes, and edges. This is where germs and parasites are, as well as where creepy crawlies live. If you’ve ever lifted up a dead log in a park or forest, you’ll know the very familiar spine-tingling sensation.
Trigger 2: Even if the clutter is clean of germs and parasites, the layering and haphazardness of multiple objects randomly spread across a table make your living and working space hard to visually scan. This presents your brain with a complex space to grapple with, keeping you more distracted, preoccupied and on-edge.
The flip side of this is after many repeated viewings, you become accustomed to your individual disorganised space. This doesn’t make you more productive, however – the brain’s trick for managing distraction is to ignore it. This is why you’ll not touch your shuffled stack of papers for weeks on end, even if it’s right in front of you.
What can I do?
Being deliberate with your choice of object placement is key. Having a specific place for paper and stationary to go back to at the end of a work day helps create a routine of cleanliness and organisation that extends to a more streamlined and effective workplace. You can still have items on your desk, but make sure these items are a deliberate choice that make you feel happy rather than it being due to not having an immediate place to keep your facemask and wallet.
As always, knowing is half the battle. Making deliberate choices with how your space is organised in response to how your environment engages you is an important step in making a space your own.
At infoclean, we regulate this process for you. We make walking into your office on a Monday morning a joy. Cleaning is our passion and we pride ourselves in delivering the best clean possible and going that extra mile, no matter the office size or location. Let’s get your office glowing for 2021! Contact us today for an obligation free quote.