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How to #Kondo Your Workspace

by Jan 10, 2019Working At Home

You may have noticed your Instagram and Facebook feeds being flooded recently with photos of clothes piled high on the floor, drawers and shelves filled with tiny boxes, and shirts folded into tiny squares. Your friends have most likely been inspired by “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” a new series on Netflix focused on helping others to clean out their clutter and choose joy in their life. Research has shown that a tidy and organized work environment can help increase productivity, help you concentrate better and even limit your sick days. So of course, after watching this series and seeing the inspiring transformations – not only to closets and drawers – but also to productivity and stress levels, we wondered if Kondo’s methods – called “Konmari” – would work the same for a desk or workspace, whether in an office environment or at home.

Marie Kondo is a tidying expert from Japan. In her #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo suggests that by addressing everything quickly at one time, and getting rid of anything that they do not truly love, or that “spark joy,” one can let go of their past, and even lessen stress levels.

Konmari Method Basics or How Do I Kondo?

The basic concept of the Konmari method is to pick up or touch each item, one at a time, and ask, “Does this spark joy?” If it does not, you should thank it for serving its purpose, and throw it away or donate it.

This might seem like it would not work in a typical office setting – I mean, how much joy can a paper clip or file folder spark? But in a 2015 interview with Fast Company, Marie said, “Even in your workspace, at your job, your things should still spark joy.” Sometimes an item might not spark joy for you, but it is still necessary to get your work done. In this case, Kondo recommends keeping the item, but changing your relationship with it – appreciating how it contributes to your daily life through helping you be more productive, successful, or creative. Kondo explains, “These items make your days go by, which means you haven’t realized that they are, in fact, making you happy.”

Here are some helpful tips to help you #Kondo your workspace and begin to receive the benefits of a tidy, decluttered, and organized work environment today, no matter where you work.

Visualize Your Ideal Work Day

A big part of the Konmari method is taking the time to imagine your ideal lifestyle – The way you want to live and use the space around you. When it comes to your workday, how do you envision using the space around you? Do you spend a lot of time at your computer? Do you need space to write or sketch out ideas? Do you prefer a separate reading or meeting area? In order to begin to declutter your workspace, you need to have a clear image in your mind of how you would work and spend your time there.

Tidy by Category, Not Location

When starting a project like this, it can be tempting to tackle one shelf or drawer at a time, but Kondo recommends tidying by category, and doing it in a specific order. That way you can see everything that you have, and approach each category with an idea of how you would utilize each item you keep, and whether or not it sparks joy, creativity, or productivity. “In cleaning your desk, you have to visualize how each item connects to how you work,” explains Kondo.

The first area Kondo suggests starting with are your books. Take all of your books off your bookshelves and pile them up in your office. Then pick up each book, one at a time. Ask yourself if this book sparks joy, or connects to how you work in some way. Pro Tip: If you have books on your shelf you have been “meaning to read” for a couple of years…it is time to give it away. ‘Sometime means never,’ she says.

Kondo then recommends moving on to papers and documents. If you are like me, you have trays and folders full of various documents and random papers. It might be tempting to throw them all out at once, but stick with the method – go through each item. You will be surprised with what you have been holding onto that you do not actually need or that does not contribute to your workday at all. In the end, you will for sure have certain job-related documents that you are required to keep, but take this time to consider the best way to store them. You could consider an Adjustable Literature Organizer or this could be a great opportunity to start scanning and digitizing all of your necessary work documents.

Next, repeat the same process with your notebooks. I have a habit of keeping all of my notebooks, going back for years, just in case I need to reference that great idea I had in 2013 – I have never needed to. Go through each one anyway, scanning or filing anything important, and then toss the rest.

Your Office Supplies and Stationary are next. These items will probably spark the most joy for you. They often are how you express your individuality or fit your personal tastes and make you happy. For me, my pens and giant post-it notes spark joy for me. Again, go through each one and throw out or donate the unnecessary items. Then you might consider an elegant desk organizer to give your supplies a specific home in your newly organized workspace.

Post-it Note Holder with Photo Frame for 3 in x 3 in Notes, Black (PH-654-BK)The last items to address are your personal items. This might be the hardest category for many people since the reason you have them at the office in the first place is that they probably make you happy. If all 20 pictures of your family spark joy, consider integrating them into the office supplies you already use, or a digital photo frame instead of tacking or taping them to your cubicle wall. After going through every personal item in your pile, you might find many of the items you have in your workspace just add to the clutter and do not really “spark joy” or contribute to your ideal workday.

Discard First, Then Put Away

The two main tasks in tidying up according to Kondo are deciding what to discard, and then deciding how and where to store the items you are keeping. Touching each item and asking yourself if it sparks joy is how you decide what to discard or keep but how do you decide where to store what you are now keeping?

First of all, now that you’ve likely discarded a surprising amount of things you didn’t need, you will find that you have much more room to store the necessary items that bring you joy. Using the Konmari method, everything that you intentionally decide to keep needs to have a place – this will help you return it every time you use it so that the clutter stays away.

Kondo recommends organizing your drawers, shelves, and desk with little boxes or containers. This allows you to see what you have, and makes it very clear where each item should go after it is used. If you prefer, you might also consider an all-in-one desk organizer for the items you use more frequently. If you have to store items or documents, consider clear plastic storage bins where you can see the contents. Bankers Box Storage Boxes are also a great portable and durable way to store documents you need to save.

If you are looking around your workspace, whether it is a cubicle, a home office, or even a classroom, and are starting to notice the clutter that is around you – go ahead and take the time to tidy up. Research has shown that a tidy living or working space can help you be more creative, get more things done, and is better for your overall mental and physical health. The Konmari method is a great framework and process to help you get started and if you follow it completely, Kondo is certain you will never go back to being messy again.