If you would like a guaranteed way to feel mentally ‘lighter’ in less than an hour, try scheduling 60 minutes of work-based decluttering next week.

All you have to do is block out 1 hour in your diary and devote it to;

  1. Deleting any openly displayed piles of paper in and around your office
  2. Deleting any hidden piles of paper in cupboards/cabinets in and around your office
  3. Tidying your computer desktop

Trust me, I’m not judging. My workspace has seen plenty of piles that have sat there mocking my efficiency for silly amounts of time. In my (and possibly your) defence, there’s probably a fine line between administrative perfection and the time spent achieving it. A perfectly clear desk/office might just suggest you have used more than a reasonable amount of your time on achieving that perfection.

Personality comes into it too – we all have different tolerance levels for ‘stuff’ lying around, but the universal truth is that clutter is exactly that, and plenty of research shows that working in a cluttered space adds mental load to the people doing it. And the last thing a school leader needs is more mental load.

When I started the teaching game, I well remember a wise, older teacher telling me that if I hadn’t used a particular resource in the previous 3 years, I should biff it. The reality back then was that almost all resources were paper based, and they took a lot of space to store – in your classroom, in your car, in your lounge at home . . . These days most of my clutter is electronic, but the bit that mocks me on a daily basis is sitting on the corner of my desk. Unresolved.

The old way of dealing with ‘the pile’ was to wait until the Christmas break then finally drop it all in an Otto. That symbolic action meant you had finally come to terms with the reality that the possibilities and opportunities buried in that pile would not be realised. And with this sub-conscious understanding, some mental load was also thrown away.

Why wait until Christmas when you can do it before lunchtime next Tuesday?


*You can read another post we wrote on this topic earlier here.

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