The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Office

On a whim – I recently picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s best-selling book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,  the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

Throughout the pages of this whimsical little book, Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo teaches her radical ‘KonMari Method‘ for banishing clutter, managing mess and organizing your home.  What excited me most was the promise that you would only have to use the KonMari Method ONCE and your home would never relapse into disorganized clutter again.  In fact, Ms. Kondo boasts that she has a 100% success rate with literally ZERO clients ever having returned to their old ways.

I decided to try the KonMari method to streamline my office into an organizer’s dream.  I work far more productively and happily when there is a minimal amount of ‘stuff’ on my desk and before starting I noticed it housed a plastic raccoon, left by my daughter, a bar of lemongrass soap I received as a gift and a stray Christmas ornament (yep – in July) among the usual pens, papers and lip balms I normally keep there.  Time to put the KonMari method to work!

To sum it up the book uses a few simple steps to get your home organized.  I adapted these steps to my office space:

  • Visualize What You Want Your Life to Look Like.  For me I want my office to be a place I like going to.  I need open space so I don’t feel claustrophobic, lots of light, and a spot to set my coffee.  I get giddy opening a drawer that is well-stocked with (neatly organized) supplies.  And I hate piles of paper.  My dream is to go completely paperless.
  • Take Everything Out. (Every. Thing.)  This was quite shocking for me.  When I actually emptied all of my drawers and book shelves, I couldn’t believe how much ‘stuff’ I had squished into those spaces!  Ancient ticket stubs, DVD’s, a math kit from high school (as if my Virtual Assistance business might one day require the use of a protractor…LOL!)
  • Pick Up Each Item One-by-One and Decide if it Brings You Joy.  This is the basis of the KonMari method:  If it doesn’t spark joy within you – get rid of it! For me, this was the hardest part.  At first I was leery about picking up a box of paper-clips and asking Does this bring me joy“.  I wondered if ANY of my office supplies could do that for me.  But surprisingly, the answers came quickly and easily as if by instinct. For those paper clips the answer was YES (they are colorful and in a clear case and I actually do enjoy looking at them and using them to organize my papers).  For the 3lb bag of elastics taking up 1/2 my bottom drawer the answer was NO (they always annoy me for taking up so much space…and they rarely, if ever, get used for anything)
  • Beware of keeping “Just-In-Case” items We all do it – and I am especially guilty!  Hanging onto items we never use “Just in Case”.  For instance I have a stack of blank CD’s someone gave me for Christmas in the 90’s.  I keep them “Just in Case” I have to store something on CD (which is ridiculous, really, because I always use a jump drive these days).  These items, although still useful, are things you need to donate, sell or toss. Even if you do end up needing one ‘someday’…you can always go out and buy another.
  • Beware of keeping “Nostalgic” items.  The KonMari method is quite strict when it comes to nostalgic items such as old photographs, vacation memorabilia and artwork your kids did when they were young:  It’s clutter and you need to chuck it.   This is where I had the most trouble and finally, accepted the fact that I disagree with Ms. Kondo on this one.  While I was able to dump the old ticket stubs (from our trip to Disney) I was not able to get rid of a single photograph (and I wouldn’t ever recommend getting rid of photos ever!)  As for the kids artwork – I take a snapshot of it on my phone so I will always have a digital photo of it – but the artwork itself can go to recycling.
  • Beware of Keeping “Training” items.  This was important for me  – and perhaps my favorite tip – as I keep EVERYTHING from EVERY course I take.  And as a Virtual Assistant I have taken a LOT of training!  In fact, I realized that three entire shelves on my bookcase were filled with binders, notes, handouts, worksheets and pdf’s from online courses I have taken.  Ms. Kondo suggests you think about how often you go back to these notes and re-read them.  For me the answer was:  Ummmm….Never.  I have never, not even once, opened these binders or notebooks since the day the courses finished.  It is extremely hard to shake the ‘just-in-case’ mentality when getting rid of these papers so, for me, the answer was our Neat Receipts scanner.  I used it to scan any documents from training courses that I couldn’t bear to part with…and then had a huge bonfire in the backyard with my physical binders and notebooks.  This cleared up LITERALLY HALF of my bookcase and gave me so much ‘breathing space’ in my office!
  • Treat Objects as If They Are Living.  That means “Thanking” all of the items you are donating or getting rid of for their service.  Even if it’s something you never used – the KonMari method suggests you thank the object for once bringing you joy when you bought it.  Likewise, whenever you use an item in your office, you should thank it for it’s service before you put it back into it’s storage space.  This is just a little too woo-woo for me.  I did try to do this for about a day or so but I have a really hard time remembering to ‘thank’ my notebook every time I close it up for the night 🙂
  • Give Every Object You Want to Keep, It’s Own Place.  I completely agree with this.  I used to get upset with my kids every time they threw their backpacks in the front hallway until I realized – I never gave them a nice spot to store them!  Once I went through all the items from my office and knew which ones I couldn’t part with because they ‘brought me joy’ – I made sure everything had a neat, organized space in a drawer or shelf for it to live in.

Are you ready to take the plunge and try the KonMari Method for organizing your Home Office?  I would love to see your before/after photos or hear about your experience in the comments.  Happy organizing!

About the Author

Hi - I'm Lisa McDonell, a Virtual Assistant who shows other women how to launch and grow their own online business, make money from home and have a fun and supportive Virtual Assistant Lifestyle.

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