How to Declutter Your Mind and Workspace – Applying Marie Kondo’s Principles at Work

How to Marie Kindo your workspace

Last year, I picked up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by expert organiser and declutterer Marie Kondo.

I’m not sure what I was expecting as I read those first few pages, but before long I was totally inspired to follow the KonMari method and overhaul my house and all my personal belongings.

I went through clothes, shoes, books, papers, photographs, the kitchen, the garage… everything. I held every item and asked myself if it brought me joy. And as I got better with the process, I found that I was keeping so many things that made no sense to me or my life anymore. It was an utterly freeing experience.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” ― Marie Kondo

Having done it at home, I also felt inspired to clean up my desk at work. After all, your external environment is a reflection of your internal mind (and vice versa), and clearing out my house had left me calm, motivated, positive and in control – so I wanted my desk to be the same.

Now I love challenging others to give it a go, particularly when it comes to their workspace. A cluttered desk makes it hard to think clearly, concentrate, feel productive, and find joy. You don’t feel in control when you start working in the morning, and it’s more difficult to disconnect and be proud of your achievements when you leave in the evening.

If you’re feeling inspired, here a few simple steps to Marie Kondo your workspace:

Clean out the cobwebs

Start by making time to go through everything (and I mean everything!) on your desk. Hold every item and ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”, “Does it bring me joy?” and “What’s the real reason I’m keeping this?” Just because you received an award 5 years ago, doesn’t mean it brings you joy today. If it doesn’t, thank it and discard it.

Look at every piece of paper – is it important? Does it require action now or can it be filed? Examine all the stationery on your desk. Do you really need 50 pens, or is 2 enough?

By the time you finish, you’ll have 2 piles: everything you must keep and everything that needs to go (plus a beautifully clean desk so you can wipe away all those old cobwebs!).

Get organised

Once your discard pile is removed, find a way to neatly arrange your ‘must keep’ pile.

Trays are great for arranging papers, but too many trays often just results in more papers. Try sticking with a single To Do tray. Everything else can be eliminated at the end of each working day so it doesn’t create needless clutter.

Arrange your personal items in a way that brings you joy, and store stationary and other items in their own special space (i.e.: with a pen pot).

A clean start every day

When your workspace is clear and uncluttered, you will absolutely want to keep it that way!

I find it best to wipe down the surface of my desk at the start or end of every day. If I do it at the start, I feel a sense of control and achievement which puts me in a great mindset for work. If I do it at the end of the day, I also feel achievement and a sense of resolution, so I can switch off before heading home to spend time with my family.

Wiping your desk every day also forces you to touch everything that has found its way onto it, and ask yourself: “Do I really need to keep this, or can I remove it?”

Once you’ve become a KonMari expert at your own desk, you’ll likely find that you inspire those around you too. And everyone working together to create a clean and clutter-free workspace can, in turn, create a clear and more productive workplace.

You might even find yourself inspired to declutter your home too and experience the life-changing effect it has for you and your family as it did for me and mine.

“Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn’t this the lifestyle you dream of?” – Marie Kondo

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