Why Do We Talk About Spring Cleaning?
Spring cleaning isn’t some modern marketing campaign. Its roots trace back 3000 years to the Iranian practice of “shaking the house” before the Persian New Year each spring. Cleaning is also found in Chinese New Year’s traditions. Even Judaism encourages cleaning during Passover in spring. Symbolically, many cleaning rituals represent a clearing out of bad energies to make room for good things in the coming year.
In a practical sense, we clean our homes in spring because we used to use kerosene and coal in the 1800s. During winter, with windows closed, the soot from burning coal and kerosene would coat the house. You had to wait until warmer weather in spring to open the windows and start cleaning the grime. Winter and fewer daylight hours can also make us lethargic and unhappy (also called Seasonal Affective Disorder). When we finally start gaining energy in the spring is when we realize we need to catch up on tasks like cleaning.
Benefits of a Clean Workspace
But spring cleaning goes well beyond reorganizing our sock drawers. We must translate these principles into the workplace. From psychological to physical, the benefits of spring cleaning in the workplace are many.
Many people feel overwhelmed in their work with how much they must do. Often, this translates into piles of papers, projects, and even sticky note reminders plastered everywhere across the office. Introducing this chaos to your workspace can add unneeded psychological stress.
A Princeton study found that when we focus, our brains home in on a singular purpose. But add visual clutter to that, and these competing objects pull our attention away. “The more objects in the visual field, the harder the brain has to work to filter them out, causing it to tire over time and reducing its ability to function.” This causes us to lose focus, lowering our productivity.
But messiness at work or at home (where many of us work now) affects our physical and mental health too. In one study, women who described their surroundings as cluttered or stressful showed “flatter diurnal slopes of cortisol, a profile associated with adverse health outcomes.” Women whose homes were deemed restorative spaces were less likely to experience depressed feelings daily.
How to Make Your Office More Productive with Spring Cleaning
Albert Einstein once joked: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?” A chaotic workspace might have worked for Einstein, but we’re not him. Therefore, it’s best that we stick to our spring-cleaning rituals.
If you want a more productive office, you need to clean. Here are three ways to maximize efficiency and build teamwork while you organize.
Make it Social: Office spring cleaning can be a social activity. Pair people together for tasks or even have them help each other clean individual workspaces. A second opinion can help with reorganizing or determining the priority of items to be left on the desk. Make sure managers and executives are involved to really drive home the community effort aspect.
Set Dedicated Time for It: Cleaning together at the office is easy to get going. But cleaning your home workspace is often a task left for outside of working hours. Instead, set a meeting for thirty minutes and have everyone clean their individual home spaces during that time. Have everyone on zoom, so they can share what they’ve accomplished and inspire others to become or stay organized.
Throw Down a Challenge: Gamification is a great way to get people involved in work activities. Add some flair to your cleaning process by introducing a contest or challenge. Awards could go to the cleanest desk, best desk accessories, best desk organization skills, etc. Don’t forget to set some encouragement to keep up their neatness after the initial clean.
Spring Cleaning Motivation Playlist
Kids learn clean-up songs in preschool. Why not have a playlist of jams going to give you cleaning motivation?
Here are ten songs to enjoy as you organize, rearrange, and clean up your workspace.
- “Try Everything” by Shakira (from Zootopia)
- “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
- “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
- “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
- “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
- “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
- “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
- “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves
- “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes
- “Believe” by Cher
Unlock more of the Secrets of Motivation with our Dale Carnegie courses and resources.