Have you checked out Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or watched her new Netflix show of the same name? The success of her “KonMari” method highlights the extreme overwhelm people feel as a result of an overly cluttered life.
In the show, Marie offers resources that help people simplify their homes and our personal lives. However, the conversation doesn’t go far beyond tossing out physical items that no longer bring us joy or taking trips to The Container Store.
The anxiety-inducing weight many people feel from collecting excess stuff is similar to the overwhelm caused by work overload, too. Countless emails (not with SaneBox, though!), meetings, Slack messages, and constant office distractions leave us wiped out at the end of the way, wondering what we actually achieved.
Just like a messy room, if you don’t regularly tidy up your work life, things can get chaotic quickly. Instead of work being a calm, focused experience, it can spiral out of control so much that you’re not even sure what to work on next. A tidy work day does more than improve your efficiency – it enhances your problem-solving abilities, mental clarity, decision-making skills, and even your attitude.
Taking notes from Marie Kondo’s exceptional The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you can declutter your workday in the same way she tidies physical objects: by enacting straightforward organizational habits.
So, overcome the clutter of your workday by following along with the Konmari method: workday edition.
Figure out what’s worth doing
Just like evaluating physical belongings, Marie encourages people to understand their purpose and picture what their future life should look like. This rings true for work as well – you should clearly know your purpose, your role at your company, why your job matters, and exactly what you need do your best work. While it may be hard to avoid every last-minute request from your boss that comes your way, you can at least give yourself a solid foundation to focus on the critical outcomes of your workday and what you can do to achieve them.
Place your job responsibilities into categories
When organizing client’s homes, Marie makes sure to group items together in a manner that makes sense. You should practice this method with your tasks as well, and evaluate them based on importance and necessity. Start by making a list of everything you do on a weekly basis – pulling reports, meetings, and general responsibilities within your role. Study the list, and you might begin to see glaring patterns that don’t directly honor your purpose. While it may be irrelevant to ask “does it spark joy?” at work, it is important to ask “Is this task necessary for achieving the deliverables my role demands?” For example, if you’re flooded with distracting Slack group chats, or if you’re finding yourself attending too many unnecessary meetings that don’t pertain to you, it may be time to reassess. By grouping your tasks into categories, you can pinpoint the clutter and excess effort you emit each day that isn’t serving your role.
Make decisions on what to keep
Sure, it can be intimidating opening up a closet and trying to figure out what to toss. The same feeling goes with the factors that make up your daily work. Instead of seeing it as an overwhelming experience, think about how whittling down your tasks helps you throw away the negativity and reign in the positivity. Ask yourself – what tasks are especially essential to my job, that will help me move forward in my career?
Throw out what you don’t need
Marie encourages us to let go of the things that no longer serve us but to be thankful for them because they served a purpose in the past. Life is fluid, things change, and it’s important to recognize the tasks and systems we put into place before might not currently strengthen our purpose. Be grateful for that report you used to pull that is no longer useful, or that brainstorming session you shared that is now coming up dry. Shedding the old helps create space for what’s necessary now. Acknowledge that some tasks should be left in the dust, and communicate this with the rest of your team if need be. Strive to live a highly relevant, actionable life!
Arrange things in a way that makes sense, where they are easily reachable and organized
It’s time to bring all your hard work together, and arrange your workday in the most productive way possible, free of excess. Now that your schedule is uncluttered of unnecessary items, it’s time to optimize. Can you outsource smaller administrative tasks to a virtual assistant? Can you schedule meetings all in one chunk, or put some time in your calendar to practice batch email processing? Build a block of time in your day for focused work free of distractions (Freedom is a great website and app blocker). Continue to stay flexible so you can be available for useful collaboration with coworkers or to make last-minute adjustments. Stay open and adaptable to all that the workday can throw at you.
If getting started on this process sounds difficult, don’t fret. The key is to start small and notice how the new habits you are putting into action are changing your mindset for the better. Perhaps you will inspire your coworkers to do the same, in turn simplifying workflow across the board and making the office a calmer place to collaborate. Even preliminary actions, such as suggesting ways to streamline email processes or encouraging meetings with time limits can be a great way to decrease stress company-wide.
By being open about your desire to declutter your workday and be more intentional about how you spend your time, you are honoring both yourself and your team. Get your peers involved and ask for feedback along the way! You might notice the newfound passion you feel about your work after you get rid of all the stuff holding you back. Don’t forget, your time is your most precious resource, and you deserve to spend it as creatively as you can.