The Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo sparked a national tidying frenzy when it was released at the beginning of the year. Viewers have been inspired to reevaluate their possessions—only keeping those that bring them joy—all in the name of creating a more organized life. While you may want to apply her lessons beyond living rooms and bedroom closets, it can be difficult to imagine how her methods work outside of family homes.
While parts of your office may never truly spark joy, you can still use the KonMari method to make your workplace a more organized and less stressful environment. By removing clutter and creating a place for everything, you and your teammates will be able to access the items you need faster, minimizing distractions to your work.
In the series, Kondo breaks down her process into five lessons that map to major categories of organizing: Clothing, Books, Paper, Komono, and Sentimental. For those with the tidying impulse, we’ve translated her best advice for each category into tactics you can use in your office.
Lesson 1: Clothing
While you may not have much clothing in your office—especially compared to what you’ve seen come out of people’s closets on the show—the little you do have can easily make your space look messy. This is most noticeable in the winter months when team members tend to toss their coats and scarves over the backs of their chairs.
To keep your office looking tidy, create space for a coat closet so your team can hang up their winter wear and visitors have a place to put their jackets. If you don’t have a closet you can easily convert, add a narrow wardrobe or coat rack for your reception area for visitors. For the rest of your team, we suggest rolling racks that can be stored in out of the way parts of the office. To keep closets neat, invest in thin, no slip hangers, to save space and create a clean, consistent look.
If you keep a supply of branded swag such as t-shirts or hoodies in your office, we recommend learning Kondo’s folding method.
Source: Spark Joy, Houzz
By folding items into small rectangles and storing them upright, you can see how much you have in each size and easily get to the right item without dismantling a large, folded pile.
Lesson 2: Books
Depending on your industry, your office may accumulate more books than others. Regardless of how many you have, it’s critical you create a dedicated place for them. If you already have an area in your office for quiet work, we recommend adding freestanding or built-in bookshelves to give the space a library-like feel. In addition, creating a “library” will ensure your employees never forget where to put loose books when they come across them.
Books can also enliven your decor. Books displayed by color and size can create a point of visual interest. At Managed by Q, we put them in our phone booths to add a pop of color.
Lesson 3: Paper
Hopefully your office has already made strides to go green and digitize most of your documents, but if not, now is a good time to start. Begin by speaking with team leads to see which departments require paper storage, such as HR and Finance. Ensure their desks have proper filing drawers or nearby storage, so that essential paperwork is kept organized.
Once storage is in place, ask everyone in the office to go through their desks and recycle as much paper as possible. To encourage participation, hold a Marie Kondo office challenge on a Friday afternoon. Give each team several clear recycling bags to fill with paper and a black trash bags to fill with miscellaneous items. The team that fills the most bags will win a prize—we suggest desk organization accessories by Poppin to reinforce good behavior.
Schedule trash hauling and shredding service for the day following the challenge so you can dispose of the bags quickly and not have to worry about their contents. To encourage regular recycling and prevent more paper accumulation, create a designated bin for documents that need shredding and book a monthly shredding service. Create a “scrap paper” bin next to your printer so abandoned print-outs don’t pile up.
Lesson 4: Komono
Kondo saves Komono for the end of the process, as it entails miscellaneous items that are typically spread out throughout a space. Komono is comprised of Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage (or supply closets and pantries in an office), and Miscellaneous. Kondo suggests using boxes to compartmentalize small items and keep drawers neat. She also advises you keep things of the same size together in the same place.
In the Managed by Q kitchen, we use clear utensil organizers not only for utensils, but also for items like serving tongs, food storage bags, and first aid kit items such as bandages and headache medicine. We purchased a clear tray to hold all of our tea bags, sugar packets, and coffee stirrers. With so many people in and out of an office kitchen, it will never be perfectly organized. However, by creating a designated spot for everything and labeling cabinets and shelves accordingly, you will increase the odds that things are put back in the right place.
In each bathroom we have a few small boxes on the countertop to keep everyday essentials organized. These hold items such as flossers, mouthwash and disposable cups, spray deodorant, and feminine products. Underneath the sinks we use larger boxes and bins to store extra tissues, toilet paper, and trash bags.
When it comes to large storage areas like your supply closets, Kondo recommends taking everything out first so you can sort them into categories. Once you have everything divided into groups of similar items, take as much as you can out of its original packaging and store it upright in clear bins. This method enables you to see everything, which gives you a more accurate read of what you have in stock and prevents over-purchasing.
Lesson 5: Sentimental items
Offices are less likely to have sentimental items, but you may come across outdated swag, props from past company events, or old signage. Go through each of these items and determine if there is a way to display them as art in your office. For example, you could hang signage with old logos alongside your new one in a conference room to show your company’s progression. Similarly, old t-shirts from specific company events can be framed and hung in common areas in one or two rows to serve as a company timeline.
If you aren’t able to display sentimental items, find a way to digitize them so they can live on in your company’s digital archive. When neither option works, it may be time to let them go. For items that can be reused, find a local charity or non-profit that accepts donations.
The effects of tidying
By creating a more organized office, your entire team will be able to work more efficiently. Reducing visual clutter by putting things away has been proven to increase productivity and happiness, as clutter triggers a stress response to the brain that there is more work to do. In addition, time spent looking for items in the kitchen or sorting through paperwork on a desk will be minimized, eliminating everyday distractions.
Marie Kondo told CNBC in an interview, "When your office space is organized...you'll be much more comfortable...and that contributes to your overall performance and your creativity.”
Take advantage of your employees learning how to refold their t-shirts at home and get them involved at work while they’re still watching Kondo’s Netflix series. If you need help setting up storage solutions, removing trash, or setting up shredding, Managed by Q can help connect you to a vetted local service provider.