Marie Kondo has created quite the stir by helping people minimize their possessions and lifestyles to create a happier and more streamlined way of life. Her KonMari philosophy is rooted in the concept of joy, prompting many people to join the movement as they find it leads them toward a better way to live.
While this approach is most often applied to people’s home lives, Marie Kondo-style minimalism can augment and create happiness in your work life, too. Here are three ways you can streamline your work life and "spark joy" each workday.
1. Clean out your digital closet
Our lives and heads have become so cluttered with information. With Americans so heavily connected to digital life, it’s no wonder many people get overwhelmed with information overload. Cleaning out your digital closet is a great place to start.
- Email inbox. Is your inbox overflowing with saved, unread, or spam emails? Clean this mess up first. Unsubscribe from sites that create digital clutter. Mark spam emails as spam. Create folders to route priority and non-priority emails. Delete or file away old emails.
- Next, clean up your contacts list by removing any that are no longer needed. Clearly label the contacts you’d like to keep so their information is readily available.
- Computer folders. Are your documents, infographics, and images scattered all over the place on your computer? Create folders with descriptive names (and dates if applicable) and neatly file each item in its proper folder. Delete any files no longer needed.
- Chances are, you no longer need many of the files you’ve downloaded, so don’t keep them. Scan through and delete any un-needed downloads. File the rest appropriately.
- Remove any smartphone apps you don’t use. Clear out any un-needed, accidental, outdated, or just plain bad photos; consider organizing the rest into albums by time or place. Update your contacts here, too.
Once you’re done, clear your cookies, cache, and update your software and apps. While you’re at it, why not choose a new background photo that “sparks joy” for your desktop, smartphone, and/or tablet? Then give your machine a good hard reboot. As your equipment boots up, you can start fresh with a whole new look.
2. Focus on your office space
Once you’ve cleared your digital messes, turn to your physical environment. What do you see? Is your office a place where you can’t wait to sit down and dig into work, or do you drag your feet on the way in because you can’t face the cluttered environment? If it’s the latter, spend some time minimizing clutter in your office to bring yourself to a point where it makes you happy.
- Clear off the top of your desk and empty its drawers entirely. Chances are you’ll find a lot of junk you don’t need. Examine every item and, as you return items back to your desk, create Save, Discard, and Maybe piles. Save and Discard are easy, but once you’re done with them, circle back to that Maybe pile and make a firm decision. Whatever doesn’t “spark joy” goes right to the discard pile.
- Bookcases, shelves or other storage. How much of your physical space is clogged up with old documents, books, or other items? Again, create three piles and start to sort. Once you’re done, put the saved items neatly away and toss what you can of the rest. Then scan any old documents, file them in your new digital filing system, and toss the excess paper into the shredder.
- Office space. Once you’ve cleared out some of the clutter, you’ll have a better idea of your space. If it’s still too overwhelming, see where you can open up some room. Is there any furniture, old equipment, or other items not adding value that you can remove?
End up with a pile of stuff you only use seasonally or can’t quite get rid of just yet? You can still remove these items from your work environment and store them in a small storage unit so you can access them when you actually need them.
3. Examine work habits and processes
Everyone has their own personalized style of work. Some people are efficient, others are a little weak in this area. Even as a manager, you probably feel there is room to create better efficiency in your work life, if you’re like most people. Performing an evaluation of your work habits and processes can go a long way toward boosting your personal productivity levels and simplifying your life.
- Where is the company focusing its energy? If it’s in your purview, take a look at marketing strategies and check the metrics. What’s working and what isn’t? Consider retooling or eliminating any campaigns that aren’t getting the job done.
- Trade shows and conferences. Do you take your brand on the road for better exposure? If so, get yourself better organized to remove the stressful moments associated with trade shows. Focus only on events that give you a solid return on your investment, and start preparing well ahead of time. A good trade show planning checklist easily streamlines the tasks and keeps you organized for each event.
- Management style. Micromanaging can siphon your focus from big-picture tasks and simultaneously stunt your employees’ growth. Can you simplify your to-do list by delegating better? Create accountability for results and be open to questions, but try letting go of some control and giving your employees a chance to figure out how to get there.
Take a look at how you approach each task and see if there is a simpler and more efficient method to the madness. Talk to your boss and colleagues to share your ideas; they might be looking for ways to streamline, too. Together you can create a better process for all. Most people can appreciate a calmer or more systematic way of doing things to boost efficiency, increase productivity, or, in the case of the boss, save money.
It’s all about simplification, and Marie Kondo adds the concept of “sparking joy” to the equation. Whatever your beliefs, the big takeaway is to essentially do fewer things, but do them better. Once you get this philosophy down and find ways to apply it to your work life, you’ll find yourself happier and more productive. As a result, you’ll have more time to do other things. Use that extra time to focus on your company’s core competencies or some leisure activities that decrease stress and bring you happiness. Either way, in the end, you should find your joy!