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It makes sense that having a tidy desktop will make us more productive – it's easier to find items, for one thing. But neatness is also good for the mind.

The Harvard Business Review references a study by scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute that demonstrates that our brains like order and that our ability to focus is reduced when our surroundings are disorganised. This makes sense if you consider that research continually shows that we're actually unable to fully focus on more than one thing at a time. Studies have also shown that we're more likely to procrastinate when we feel overwhelmed by our environment.

How to tidy your desktop

So if your desktop is an absolute mess and you're feeling inundated, where can you start?

  1. Sort your desktop icons. If you right-click on your desktop, you can select how you want to arrange your icons, for example, by date added or date last opened. The new macOS, Mojave, also allows you to sort your items into Stacks, according to type (documents, images, presentations etc). If you use a Windows computer, you can arrange your items using Fences.
  2. Wherever possible, sort your files into folders. Start with three standard folders for Work, Personal and Family. From there, create sub-folders in each one for different projects.
  3. Use the other folders on your computer, such as documents. Keep only items you're currently working with on your desktop. Once you've finished a project, move the files into your documents folder. Organise them in specific sub-folders there too!

Decluttering is just one way to pursue a happy mindset this Mental Health Awareness Month. For more ways to improve your mental wellbeing, read this article about finding JOMO – the Joys of Missing Out.

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