Declutter Your Workspace and Change Your Life: 3 Expert Tips from Marie Kondo

Five minutes before your big meeting, you’re scrambling to find a memo from a couple months ago that you’d like to bring up with the group. As you rifle through papers and paraphernalia in your desk drawers, you wonder how all this clutter accumulated there in the first place. Old postcards, three keychains, a pile of receipts, and a pair of socks?

All that extra jumble does a number on your brain. Not only does it get in the way of things you actually need, but it’s not very representative of your ideal workspace. Before you try to convince yourself that one day you’ll need that emergency pair of socks, listen to these office organization tips from Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, taken from her wildly popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Visualize a workspace that will improve your body and mind

Keeping an area clean and organized might serve a functional purpose, but it shouldn’t be your ultimate goal in tidying up. Take it one step further and aim to create a space that improves your well-being. After all, Kondo writes, “the whole point in both discarding and keeping things is to be happy.”

To do this, organize your workspace in a way that feels natural to you. Sort through your items and evaluate them on usefulness. Pick them up, examine them closely, and ask yourself: “What is this item’s purpose? Does it make me happy?”

Letting go of items you no longer need can be therapeutic. The best part is that as you do it, you’re making space for bits of your ideal life to fit in.

Sort your past to guide your future

Oftentimes when you’re cleaning up you’ll find buried treasure from your past. If you stumble upon a piece with sentimental value, examine it. Does it correspond to your current wants and needs? Does it have a place in your ideal future?

Documents, for example, rarely do. All those warranties and manuals you’re keeping for a rainy day have probably outlived their use, and you’ll feel better once they are out of your space. The same goes for old course materials. After all, you took the course for the knowledge and the experience — not the pieces of paper that came with it.

When you’re done discarding the non-necessities, check out the remaining items in your workspace. They might actually illuminate something about yourself and your ideal future. One of Kondo’s clients had this realization; all the books she kept had to do with social welfare, so she went back to school, quit her job in IT, and went on to start a successful babysitting company.

Fill your space with things you truly love

You might think your 6 shelves of books are fostering an atmosphere of intellectualism, but the truth is that they may be putting you off. Sort through them and discover the ones you’re truly passionate about, and you may soon find yourself becoming more passionate about reading in general.

Don’t be afraid of discarding a book when the time isn’t right to read it.

If you feel a pang of regret as you toss the dusty thing into the trash, then remind yourself that you can always buy another copy.

Find more tips for re-imagining your spaces from Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or get her best tips from Blinkist.

This article was originally published on Page19. If you enjoy this article, check out Page19 for more reads like this.

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