Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
But let me also share an insight my Grandmother used to pass along: “Just remember kid, you’re no Einstein.”
For most people, a cluttered desk is more a sign of laziness than superior intelligence. And while it’s true that some studies have shown a link between creativity and disorder, for many people, a messy office just causes anxiety and stress.
Like a messy home, a cluttered space can affect our mood, distract us and decrease our productivity.
While most people associate the KonMari Method with home organizing, it can also be applied to the workplace. Sure, a stapler may not "Spark Joy", but a clutter-free and efficiently organized office just might.
Here are a few tips for creating a space which works for you.
Block the Time
As discussed in previous posts, setting aside enough time to do the job properly is often the most important step to get started. Block a time slot in your calendar for your tidying extravaganza or risk continuous interruption by well-meaning coworkers or clients who see an open block in your agenda.
Depending on how big your space is, the required time can vary from 1 to 6 hours for a small office. Having your calendar blocked for the purpose ensures that you won’t get interrupted.
Start Early or Late to Avoid Attention
Many people feel weird about organizing their work space in front of others, as if Bob from accounting will spread a rumour that you’ve been let go.
Well, gossiping Bob can stuff it.
But all the same, sometimes it’s just best to work without distraction.
For example, I feel I work well earlier in the day when no one has arrived yet. Others may find it easier in the afternoon once most have left for the day.
Just find a time that suits you best and complete the job without interruption.
Follow the KonMari Sequence
While most of us don’t keep too many clothes in our office (if you do, start with those), you should still follow the KonMari sequence when organizing your office.
That means you work through books, papers, komono (miscellaneous) subcategories and sentimental items. Especially with the komono, it’s less overwhelming to take one subcategory at a time. Pinterest has many printable checklists to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Store Vertically Instead of Piling
If it works for your clothes, it works for your pens and notebooks. Storing vertically not only saves you space, allowing you to store more items, but also makes every object visible at once. For papers, this means rather than piling them on your desk or face down in cabinet, store them vertically in marked folders in drawers/cabinets.
Simplify and Discard
We may not be printing out faxes anymore, but for most people the paper category will still be a big one. If you have a lot of documents, start your review by sub-diving into categories (receipts, reports, letters etc.). Then review each category and discard whatever is no longer required – you’ll be surprised how much that amounts too!
But just be careful you don't discard the quarterly report you need to present tomorrow!
As for the stuff that stays, I would recommend keeping your document categories simple. My files are separated by:
1. pending review: files that I'm still deciding whether to keep or discard
2. Stored temporarily: documents for my review or for sending somewhere else
3. Stored permanently: an important HR form, or maybe some dirt on your boss in case they want to fire you someday
If you take a hard look at each document, you may be surprised at what you can discard or store electronically instead. In fact, if you can, go entirely paper free. That also means being mindful of what you choose to print out in the first place. Bring your laptop to the meeting instead of printing out ten pages - save some trees!
It might seem that the KonMari joy factor is less relevant in your office. But keep in mind, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. That’s about 30% of our entire life. So by all means, if a framed picture of your cat or a potted plant gives you joy, keep it!
Ready for a brand new work day?