Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, taught us how to declutter our homes once and for all. Now, the queen of clean is here to help us tidy up our work life. Considering that most of us are working amidst mouldy saucepans and our children’s breakfast remnants from our kitchen tables, the timing of her new tome, Joy at Work, couldn’t be better.
With bestselling books, an acclaimed , a homewear line and life-changing tidying methods, Marie Kondo has firmly cemented her status as the queen of organisation.
As her avid fans will know, her ‘KonMari’ tidying principles centre around the belief that whatever doesn’t ‘spark joy’ must go and her decluttering methods, she says, have a hugely beneficial impact on your mental health.
In, Marie has teamed up with organisational psychologist Scott Sonenshein to reveal how to organise your desk (or, ahem, dining table-turned-desk), finally get through your emails and make time for what sparks joy in your working life. And we could all do with a bit of joy right now, right?
“Once you’ve found order in your work life, you can feel empowered to find confidence, energy and motivation to create the career you want and move on from negative working practices,” she promises. With the lines between home and work seriously blurred during the current pandemic, we’re seriously here for a bit of KonMarie magic. Here, she shares her best hacks for perfecting your at-home work space so you can boost yourand just feel really damn good about yourself…
The joy sparked by a tidy desktop can be quite addictive. But I must confess that I only started keeping mine tidy recently. One day a fan came over to talk to me while I was working on my laptop at a cafe. I was so mortified by how cluttered my display was that I’ve kept my desktop tidy ever since…
[Now] the only things I keep on my [computer] desktop are a folder marked ‘Storage’ and any other items, such as photos, that I want to use that day.
I consider my computer desktop to be a workspace, just like my desk, so I display only those things that I intend to use right away.
My storage folder is like a filing cabinet. Inside are two folders, one called ‘Documents’ and one called ‘Photos’, as well as a document I need to review soon and photos that I’ll be using within the next few days. The ‘Photos’ folder contains photos I would like to use in near-future projects.
How you categorise your digital folders will depend on what’s easiest for you in your line of work.
Deal with work-related items separately from personal items. For example, if some of your books and documents are work-related while others are not, identify only the work-related items for now and focus on tidying them, leaving personal items for a later date.
The order in which you tidy is important in the KonMari Method. In the home, I generally recommend starting with clothes and progressing through the more advanced categories in the order of books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental items. I recommend this order because starting with the easiest and working up to the hardest category helps us develop our capacity to choose what to keep or let go and decide where to store everything.
For tidying the workspace, just drop the clothes category and proceed through books, papers and komono. Work on one category at a time. Begin by taking out every item in each category or subcategory and piling them in one spot.
Perhaps you’re thinking it would be better to just choose them by looking at the titles while they’re still in your bookcase, but please don’t skip this step. Books that have stayed too long on the shelf have become part of the scenery. Only by taking each one in your hands can you actually see them as separate entities. Ask yourself when did you buy it? How many times have you read it? Do you want to read it again? And whether you would still buy that book if you saw it in a bookstore. Sometimes people ask me how many books they should keep, but there’s no fixed number. If books spark joy for you, then the correct choice is to keep as many as you want with confidence.
The rule of thumb for papers is to discard everything. My clients always look dumbfounded when I say this. Of course, I don’t mean that we should eliminate papers entirely. I’m just trying to get across how much resolve we need in order to choose only those that are absolutely necessary and to discard the rest.
Start by sorting your papers [that you’re keeping] into clear categories, such as presentations, project proposals, reports, and invoices. Put each category of papers in a separate folder and store them in a filing cabinet or upright in a filing box placed on a shelf. Storing them this way makes it easy for you to see how many papers you have. Finally, make a pending box, in which to keep only those papers that you need to deal with on that day.
Gather them all together and look at them one by one. You can say goodbye to the business cards of people you’ve already been in touch with through email or social media. Input the info into your contacts folder right away, or record their email addresses in your computer or phone by scanning or taking a photo. If just having some cards inspires or energises you, keep them with confidence.
Divide Komono into Subcategories: office supplies (pens, scissors, staples, tape, etc.) Electrical (digital devices, gadgets, cords, etc.) Job-specific komono (product samples, art materials, supplies, parts, etc.) Begin by gathering all items in the same subcategory in one place and pick them up one by one. With desk supplies (like scissors and staplers) you need only one of each item for your workspace, so select one and say goodbye to the rest.
With consumables (things that you keep on hand and use up, like sticky notes, paper clips, notebooks, stationery, and cards) although we may need to keep a few extra in stock, is it really efficient to have a mountain of sticky notes overflowing your drawers or a cache of ten red pens? When tidying up electrical komono, it’s quite common to find broken appliances or gadgets that are now obsolete. Is there any point in keeping such things in your desk?
For Job-Specific Komono, we all have things that are unique to our professions. It might be paints and canvases for artists or cosmetic samples from manufacturers for beauty-column writers. Depending on the profession, the volume may be overwhelming or the content may seem uninspiring. But precisely because these items are directly connected to our work, they have the most potential to spark joy in our lives once we start tidying and to keep us motivated to the finish.