10 Ways to Marie Kondo Your Workplace
A look at how we can "spark joy" in the workplace by learning from the Japanese decluttering expert, Marie Kondo. How to tidy your space, refine the objects that belong in it, and store things better.

Sometimes called the “Beyoncé of tidying”, Marie Kondo’s international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo have taught the world how to clean up your home, throw out items that don’t “spark joy” (her famous catchphrase) and store things better.

Furthermore, the Marie Kondo effect has also reached beyond our homes: more and more businesses are hiring professional declutterers, and membership of the Association of Declutterers and Organisers (APDO),has more than doubled in the past few years.

According to a 2015 study cited by the National Association of Professional Organisers found that 52% of employees working in the US consider missing information to be the most stressful factor of their jobs. It’s a major problem, and one that could easily be solved through better organization. Marie Kondo has changed the way we tidy our homes, but how can her ideas be used to improve the way we work? Here are 10 ways to Marie Kondo your workplace.

1. Make Sure You’re Committed to Tidying.

Then you won’t become discouraged or distracted, she says.

2. Think About What to Keep.

Instead of thinking about what you’d like to throw away, focus on what you’re going to keep. Plenty of things in the office can have sentimental value: think of awards, or even a cherished old mug in the kitchen cabinet. There are also many important documents and items that you’ll need to keep in order to run a business. But those boxes full of random paperwork and old projects? Maybe those can go.

3. Does It Spark Joy in Your Heart?

Ask yourself this question for everything that’s not essential. “Hold each item in your hands, as close to your heart as possible,” says Kondo. “And then, pay close attention to how your body responds. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill running through your body, as if your body is somehow slowly rising up to meet the item, embracing it even.” You’ll need to keep important business documents and office equipment regardless of whether they spark joy, but otherwise this is a great principle to bear in mind when tidying a cluttered desk or crowded shared kitchen.

4. Say Goodbye.

Kondo recommends bidding farewell to each precious item you’re getting rid of. “I understand that for some people it may seem strange to thank items,” she says, “but if you try it you’ll be surprised by its effectiveness.” It’s all part of the process of becoming better organized.

5. Tidy Things in Order.

Always tidy items by category, rather than by location. And begin with the easiest categories. “Your tidying should be in this order,” she says: “clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and then—and only then—will you be ready for your sentimental items.” And while you may not have much clothing at work, you likely will have plenty of books, papers and komonotaking up unnecessary space.

6. Deal With Your Paperwork.

Paper waste is more of a problem at work than at home. A good way of preventing it from building up is to identify what most of your paper waste is used for, and see whether that process can be digitized instead. As for your old paperwork: buy a scanner and a shredder, and make sure to recycle everything once you’re done.

7. Change How You Store Things.

There are plenty of clever storage solutions like storage walls, smart lockers and shelving systems that help you use your available space more efficiently. In the words of professional declutterer Juliet Landau-Pope, “I see clutter as a habit and it’s a habit that can be shifted. It’s not about having a perfect space or being minimalist. It’s about doing the best you can within the space you have, and making the most of your work and your environment.”

 8. Declutter Your Inbox.

According to the 2015 study cited earlier, a third of employees (34%) are unhappy with work management processes, particularly because project information is often stored in emails (59%) or personal notes (31%) where others couldn’t access them. Clearly it’s important to store information in a more sensible and accessible way. Tidy your digital workplace as well as your desk, and everyone will benefit. Decluttering your email is a great place to start; an inbox with over 1,000 unread emails would stress anyone .

9. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

Take some time every day to notice how your working environment is affecting your mood and productivity? We’ve spoken many times about the benefits of having a calm, Serene Sanctuary in the office in which to relax. Likewise, if you’ve got a very messy desk, it’s difficult to concentrate because of all the distractions.

A tidy office makes for a tidy mind, so come up with a personal system that’s easy to follow, and make some time every week for filing. This is particularly important for those using shared coworking spaces, who often don’t have any personal storage or space to make a mess of.

10. Declutter Your Mind.

Lastly, it’s not just about your desk. Make sure to declutter your schedule and your mind. According to Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson in the Johns Hopkins Health Review, “there’s a global epidemic of overscheduling and it’s ruining our health,” leading to anxiety and stress. Similarly, according to a recent Harvard study, we’re much happier when we’re fully present in whatever activity we’re doing. The solution is to do less, but do it better; high achievers tend to be highly selective about how they spend their time. Which is to say: decluttering your life doesn’t just improve happiness, it improves performance too.

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