The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up your Workspace

Anyone who knows me knows that when the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo hit our television screens I instantly became obsessed. I binge-watched every episode and started folding my clothes like her, organizing like her and purging my dusty, old items. Organizing and tidying things are so satisfying. It didn’t take long before I had come into my office and started tidying the shared space.

For those that have no idea what I’m talking about, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and author. She came out with a #1 New York Times best selling book in 2011 called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and in 2019 her tidying became a show on Netflix. She developed what she calls the KonMari Method and it follows six steps:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Discard items first
  4. Tidy by category
  5. Follow the checklist order
  6. Find joy

When it comes to my work, my desk might not look perfect, but I am a very organized person. I am almost always working on multiple projects at one time and working with several different departments or clientele. As a video editor, I have to make sure my video and photo content are managed and organized frequently. I want to be able to access my files easily and quickly and in a way that anyone can navigate my file structures. Tangible and intangible organization and tidiness are very important to an efficient and productive workflow. I live for this sh*t.

Marie Kondo’s “KonMari Method” doesn’t only have to used for tidying up your home, it can be used for project management as well. Tidying up your intangible work is just as important as tidying up your desk. Why not apply her rules to your workflow?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up your Workspace:

1. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

You’ve made it this far, so you must be interested in cleaning up your workspace. Take a step back for a second and think about your workspace, the physical space that you work in. How does it look? Is it cluttered? Could is use some TLC? Now think about your email inbox or even the desktop on your computer. Are there unimportant emails clogging your inbox? Are there several files blocking your beautiful desktop background? Imagine what could be if you spent some time tidying! How would that feel for you? Would it cause less stress?

2. Commit yourself to tidying up

Now that you’ve imagined how organized and wonderful your workspace, both physical and virtual, could look and feel, it’s time to commit. YOU CAN DO IT! You gotta go all in.

3. Discard items first

Start by organizing your physical space. If your space feels clean, you will feel more relaxed. Look through all of your desk items and discard anything that does not belong or is not useful to your work environment? Old, broken, mismatched pens? Dump them. That free thing you got at the last seminar you went to? Throw it away. Then move onto your desktop or laptop. Throw away any old downloads and misc. files that you know you don’t need.

4. Tidy by category

Once you have discarded any items you don’t want or need anymore, it’s time to tidy! Start again with your physical space. Put all items in one pile or spot and start to organize things by category. These might be things like: writing utensils, notepads, department folders, etc. It’s best to put smaller things like paper clips and extra staples into small bins. Currently I work at home so I’ve organized my home, school and work files into three separate bins.

My home office

When I manage my projects and workflow, I found it‘s best to use a project management app or tool. There are plenty out there, but my favorite is Trello. The interface has drag and drop designs, it’s beautiful and and easy to use. My office uses Wrike for our project management system. It’s a bit more clunky in my opinion, but it does the job for the multiple projects, people and sub-tasks.

Trello workflow for my Graduate Studies work
5. Follow the checklist order

Follow. The. Checklist. If you follow this checklist in order, you will find balance in your workflow. Now that you’ve binned your unnecessary items and categorized your projects it’s time to find your flow and follow it. Using project management tools like Trello allows you to keep your work organized and doesn’t let things fall through the cracks. You’ve put in all this work, follow through with it!

6. Find joy

Now it’s time to sit back, soak in the organized space you’re in. This kind of environment leads to deep, productive work. You’ll find yourself feeling less stressed and not laying in bed wondering if you’d “sent that email”. You’ve completed the steps! Congratulations!

If you feel stressed with your workday, try these steps. Give it a shot, come back when you’re finished and let me know how it goes. Happy tidying!