You know that incredible feeling you get when your house is clean and tidy, and everything in your life feels together and at ease? Well, what if things could be like that all the time?
This is what Marie Kondo talks about in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and if you haven’t already heard about it, let me give you a rundown.
Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant, and she specializes in simplifying, storing, and organizing your home. Kondo suggests that by reorganizing your home, you can see dramatic changes in your lifestyle and perspective. One of her clients even quit her job and launched her own business after learning this art!
So, of course, we scoured through her book to find our absolute favorite tips, and now we’re sharing how you can take those same suggestions and apply them to your office life.
1. Focus on your own work.
Forget everything you know about cleaning up; Kondo says that tidying should be a special event, not a chore that you have to do every day. By tackling this one special event of tidying up, you are putting your house in order without any need to compare yourself to anyone else. You are the gold standard, and you don’t need to worry about anyone else’s performance. It’s easy in the office to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing, but it’s a game changer when you start to focus on your own tasks without worrying about how everyone else is performing.
2. Aim for perfection.
For Kondo, tidying up is a serious task, and you can never get your house in order if you are doing it half-heartedly. She suggests aiming for perfection just once (she promises it’s not an impossible goal!) and to not put too much pressure on the task at hand. While we can’t always reach perfect success, it’s important to go after daily tasks with as much gusto as you can muster. Don’t make yourself crazy, the act of tackling the job itself can equal perfection.
3. “Sometimes” usually means “never.”
You know that stack of books sitting in your room that you just might read again someday? Yeah, probably not going to happen. And even though they look great aesthetically, those books aren’t doing any good just sitting there. When you’re dealing with your office space, the same idea applies. Those emails from five months ago you still might respond to? You can probably delete them. Those unnecessary papers on your desk that you might get to? Move them, and make space for your current work. Taking a moment to assess what you can reasonably accomplish will help you feel way less overwhelmed.
4. Follow your intuition.
“Does this spark joy?” This is the essential question Kondo presents in her book because as Kondo says, feelings are standard for decision making: “Through the process of selecting only those things that inspire joy, you can identify precisely what you love and what you need.” This attitude goes way beyond cleaning and is essential as you move throughout your career. Take note of whether your job is inspiring you and making you feel joyful. If not, it might be time to reevaluate and pinpoint what it is that you truly enjoy.
5. You can do without.
Once Kondo’s clients are finished tidying up their spaces, they report that they don’t notice any difference in the lives or daily inconveniences. “Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something,” says Kondo. It’s easy in our careers to feel like we have to accomplish a huge list of things, checking each one off in a timely fashion and never getting behind. But it’s OK to be without—to not get to everything, to put your heart and soul into some projects and leave others behind. Our careers can still be satisfying and fulfilling even if we’re missing a few things along the way.