Let’s face it, your office is basically your second home. You spend a huge chunk of your week within its four walls, whether you’re working, enjoying your lunch or socialising with your colleagues. But despite spending so much time in this important space, many of us dedicate little to no time to clean and declutter it regularly.
Can you remember the last time you sorted through that stack of papers on your desk? If the answer is no, it’s been far too long! But if you’re anything like us, the thought of sorting out your office, particularly if it’s been a long time, can be overwhelming. That’s where Marie Kondo comes in.
Marie Kondo is the Japanese organising consultant that everyone is talking about right now and her Konmari method has helped thousands of people get their homes and offices looking tidy and feeling more efficient. So here’s what you need to do to get your office looking ship shape, the Marie Kondo way.
Step One: Envision your perfect office space
Before you do anything else, the Konmari method requires that you start by envisioning what your ideal office environment looks like. You might want to create a space that lets you be more productive than you are right now or perhaps you want more room for you and your employees to unleash your creativity.
Whatever your vision is, keep it firmly in your mind to give your decluttering efforts a clear focus. As you start to go through each item in your office, your goal should be to only keep the items that you think will help you achieve your vision.
Step Two: Divide items into groups
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what you want to achieve, it’s time to start sorting. Remove everything from your desk, filing cabinets and shelving units (and we mean everything) and sort each item into the following categories: books, paper, Komodo (miscellaneous items) and sentimental. You can also create sub-categories, such as electrical, clothing or food etc if you need to.
This step will take a fair bit of time and you might need a helping hand or two, depending on how big your office is. But having all of your contents grouped all together in these strict categories will make it a lot easier to see exactly what items are contained within your office.
Step Three: Only keep items that “spark joy”
You’re now going to follow Marie Kondo’s mantra of only having items in your office that “spark joy.” Concentrate on sorting through all the items in one category at a time and consider whether they bring joy into your work life or not. If they do, they can be placed in a keep pile. If they don’t, thank the item for its service then discard it or take it home, depending on what it is.
This exercise can be easier said than done. Photos of your family or presents from your team will understandably spark more joy than an office stapler or printer. So to make sure you aren’t getting rid of items that are essential to your work, you will also need to consider whether an item helps you to complete your work tasks effectively.
For instance, broken pens, old meeting notes you never refer to and leftover condiments from your last team takeaway, are all items that don’t bring you joy or contribute to your work– so you should let them go. Whereas your go-to work pen, that pair of scissors you use daily and your favourite mug should all be kept because they have a positive impact on both your work and mood.
Once you’ve got your head around this, you’ll know exactly which items are worth keeping and which ones aren’t.
Step Four: Clean like you’ve never cleaned before
Before you start putting all the items you want to keep back into place, take this opportunity to give your office a good old fashioned spring clean. We bet it’s been a while since your desk and storage cabinets were this empty, so now is as good a time as any to give them a well-deserved deep clean.
Once your desk is looking sparkling clean, move your attention to the areas within your office that don’t get cleaned as often as they should, such as behind cabinets and in the communal fridge. Mould, dirt and dust bunnies can accumulate in these areas over time, which definitely won’t spark any joy within your work environment. So use a bit of elbow grease to get these areas back to their gleaming former glory.
Don’t forget to also give all the items you use regularly, such as your computer screen, keyboard and phone a wipe down too while you’re at it.
Step Five: Reorder your items to suit your vision
It’s time to bring some normality back to your office by putting everything back into place. But instead of just putting things exactly where they used to be, think back to your vision of a perfect office space and whether your current set-up can be improved. You might find that your entire desk needs to be rearranged to increase space or functionality. Or perhaps your filing cabinets or printer would serve you better if they were in a different spot. Now is the time to make these kind of adjustments!
Once you’ve got your set-up locked in, follow the Konmari rule of storing each of the items within your office vertically and in a pleasing way. That way you will be able to everything more clearly and inject some fun into the space with functional yet cute boxes and patterned folders. You should also aim to store like for like items together so you know exactly where things are, exactly when you need to use them. So books go with other books and magazines, pens go with pencils and so on.
This is also a great opportunity to implement new processes within your office, particularly when it comes to your paperwork. Use coloured boxes or filing shelves to create three paper sub-categories: pending, short-term and keep forever. Pending is for papers such as bills or forms that you need to complete ASAP, whereas short-term is for things like tax, insurance and invoice documents that you need to keep for now. Lastly, the keep forever category is for important papers such as employee contracts, office mortgage details or rental agreements that you need to keep on file. If something doesn’t fit into one of these categories, scan it and store it on your computer then chuck the physical copy.
We get it. When you finish your work for the day, you just want to go home and relax with your family. But with spring just around the corner, there’s no better time to follow these steps and start sorting through your office clutter to make it the clean, productive space you’ve always wanted.