Marie Kondō’s Tidy Success Strategy for Entrepreneurs (Spark Joy Immediately)

Tidy Your Life, Transform Your Business with the Japanese Art of Decluttering — KonMari Style

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” Marie Kondō

Marie Kondō recently released her Netflix show, a massive success based on her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

What if entrepreneurs could apply the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing as taught by Kondo to business in what she calls the KonMari principles?

Often, conventional wisdom keeps our lives, startups, and workplaces bloated with too much stuff and nothing to do but shuffle paper.

Have you ever felt like this?

  • Busy, but not productive.
  • Caught in the busy-ness of business, instead of enjoying the product of productivity.
  • Working hard on things that don’t work out.

According to Gallup and cited by Harvard, only 13% of people are engaged in their work. We don’t just have a crisis at work, we aren’t really working effectively or efficiently at all. Why?


Mind clutter.

Founder clutter.

Startup clutter.

Operational clutter.

Organizational clutter.

Personality-clash clutter.

Entrepreneurial, anti-success, cognitive-bias clutter.

{Fill in the blank with whatever is bothering you} clutter.

What a mess.

Can we tidy this?

Could there be hope in sparking greater joy in our work as entrepreneurs, employees and executives using the KonMari method?

6 Ways to Spark Joy in Your Life and Business with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Work

Tidy Your Work, Transform Your Life

What is the KonMari method and how can it be applied to success in life and business?

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” ― Marie Kondō

I can only imagine that KonMari is a clever name-mash to say it’s Marie Kondo’s method. :-) Brand-creation aside, here are the 6 Rules of the KonMari Method in Kondo’s own words:

Commit yourself to tidying up.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
Finish discarding first.
Tidy by category, not by location.
Follow the right order.
Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Tidy Your Life, Transform Your Business

Six KonMari-Adapted Success Principles to Implement Immediately

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.”― Marie Kondō

Step 1: Commit yourself to tidying up your life and business.

Step 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle success story.

Step 3: Finish discarding distractions first.

Step 4: Tidy by value grade, not by quality.

Step 5: Follow the right order of value creation.

Step 6: Ask yourself if your work sparks joy in you and those you serve.

KonMari business tidying will allow you to be more engaged, happy and productive in your startup, workplace, business and life in general.

How Entrepreneurs Can Apply the KonMari Method

“From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
Marie Kondō

Step 1: Commit yourself to tidying up your life and business.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” ― Marie Kondō

They key word is COMMIT.

  • Commit to tidying up your life.
  • Commit to tidying up your business.

But what does a commitment (pledge) to the tidy life look like?

The guiding principle in tidying according to Kondō is to create a space for the person we are becoming.

Create a space in life and business for the person you want to become, not the person you were.

In coaching we call this success technique future-pacing.

Future Pacing is a technique where the client is asked to imagine him or herself in the future in a given desired situation. The given situation being the topic, problem, challenge, or limitation that you worked with your client on.”

For the purposes of this article, we are moving from the mental state of creating the future to actually creating a physical space where our future self can manifest.

  • What needs to be done this week to tidy your life?
  • What needs to be done this week to tidy your business?
  • Do those things this week. Repeat as needed.

Note: This does not mean buying things or going into debt. In fact, in the elimination of things, you will find yourself cutting unnecessary items and overhead from your life and business.

You can tidy your life and business here and there, but unless you’re committed to the process you’ll have lackluster results.

Step 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle success story.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” ― Marie Kondō

We first create in the mind — virtual creation — before we create in the world — physical creation.

  • Where do you want to be ten years from now? It’s is a good question, but it’s so far off it doesn’t help as much as shortening the time period.
  • Where do you want to be two years from now? That’s a better question because it’s long enough to dream and short enough to make it happen.
  • Figure that out and then ask: HOW CAN I DO THAT IN SIX MONTHS?

Allow the goals that “speak to your heart” to guide you in your decisions.

Imagining your ideal life success story is LESS about WHAT you want to do and MORE about WHO you want to become.

Big picture dreams broken down into smaller, more manageable parts unveil the steps that lead you to where you wan to go.

Step 3: Finish discarding distractions first.

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ― Marie Kondō

When you know WHO you want to become (as you’ve discovered in steps two and three) the process of detaching from distraction becomes less complicated. Here’s how:

I recommend that you look at the tasks you are doing throughout your day and ask yourself if these things are bringing you closer to your goals?

If your daily actions are not helping you become you you want to become, then you are becoming someone you don’t want to be.

Detach yourself from tasks that are unproductive or counterproductive to your becoming goals. This does not mean you have to stop leisure or travel or fun. Things that energize you are good indicators of who you want to become and how to get there. Just don’t pretend like sitting behind a computer waiting for the clock to strike 5pm or posting on FB is helping you become if it’s not. Don’t lie to yourself.

“I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.” ― Marie Kondō

Ask yourself:

  • What activities do I do that are valuable today?
  • What activities that I do will be valuable for only a set time (like a project)?
  • What activities do I do that I want or need to do indefinitely?

Write these things down, discard the rest, and act accordingly.

Step 4: Tidy by value grade, not by quality.

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role.
By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.
To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” ― Marie Kondō

What is a value grade?

Value-grade or value-grading is a term I coined to describe the hierarchy of value that entrepreneurs offer to customers.

I started thinking about grades of value over quality when one of our clients at Prouduct asked about the quality of a sample. We quickly realized that our language around quality and the language of our Chinese supplier around quality were different.

The Chinese would say it is perfect quality, but our client would desire a “higher quality.” We’d go back and forth until we realized we weren’t speaking the same language even though we spoke the same words. (My business partner Thiefaine speaks Chinese.)

In reality, the quality was perfect. The quality of the sample wasn’t the actual issue despite our concern. Quality just wasn’t the right word. The right word was GRADE. The same product can be made to high quality standards in paper, plastic or diamonds, but the diamond product would have a higher grade — higher value.

Quality and grade are two different things.

Start thinking of your products in terms of value grade and watch your business transform.

Here are examples of what I call monetary value grades:

1 figure offers ($1-$9)
2 figure offers ($10-$99)
3 figure offers ($100-$999)
4 figure offers ($1,000-$9,999)
5 figure offers ($10,000-$99,999)
6 figure offers ($100,000-$999,999)
7 figure offers ($1,000,000-$9,999,999)

…and everything in-between and beyond.

Here is how you tidy your business by value grade:

Start value grading as follows:

  • Tidy your business by looking at your product offerings and categorize them by putting them into value grade buckets.
  • Look at your value-grade business offering categories and ask yourself which value grades are making you the most money now.
  • (I’m a fan of high-ticket offers like I describe in my piece Tesla’s Simple Business Strategy You Can Implement Immediately.)
  • Then ask yourself if the value grade that sells the most is the value grade you want to stay in or if you’d like to move to another.
  • Further, ask yourself which value grades you need to end.

You’ll make better business decision by value-grading — the quality of your product should be high-quality regardless of grade.

Step 5: Follow the right order of value creation.

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.” ― Marie Kondō

The two types of value creation for the purposes of this article are:

  1. Your personal life.
  2. Your entrepreneurial life.

(If you don’t identify as an entrepreneur, insert the word work, career, passion project, or whatever you consider your everyday or dream work).

When you’re evaluating value creation in your personal life and in your work, remember this:

A tidy personal life will improve your work and tidy work will improve your personal life.

The balance of life and work isn’t balance at all because life is dynamic. Your life and work are one — everything that makes “you” you are blended — like perfecting a smoothie.

The order of value creation for the optimal life and business blend:

  1. Identify how you feel about your life and work.
  2. Identify which parts of your life and work have fulfilled their purpose.
  3. Express gratitude for the activities and accomplishments and processes and habits that have fulfilled their purpose.
  4. Bid farewell to activities, accomplishments, processes and habits that have fulfilled their purpose — they are holding you back.
  5. Examine your inner self in your new environment (having bid farewell to old ways) — who do you want to become?
  6. Experience a rite of passage to a new life — you’ve given yourself permission.
  7. Commit to the value grade categories that spark joy moving forward in life and work (refer to Step 4: Tidy by Value Grade, Not by Quality).
  8. Develop tidy habits that build character, competence, courage and capacity in your everyday work to create the life and value grade you desire.
  9. Teach others this process as a way to reinforce your learning, become a trusted lead advisor and hold yourself accountable.
  10. Repeat monthly.

This ten-piece order for value creation will complete the work-life puzzle you’ve been trying to finish faster than seeking illusive balance.

Step 6: Ask yourself if your work sparks joy in you and those you serve.

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.” ― Marie Kondō

Work stretches to time constraints. Your average workday isn’t actually how long it takes to get stuff done, it’s how much time we’ve been given to get it done. Parkinson’s law.

“Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. It is sometimes applied to the growth of bureaucracy in an organization. This law is likely derived from ideal gas law, whereby a gas expands to fit the volume allotted.”

Disengagement at work leads to longer hours. Longer hours are a result of being reactive, not proactive. Reactivity leads to cluttered work. Clutter leads to messy results. Messy results lead to low success and unhappiness. Personal unhappiness leads to dissatisfied customers.

Reactiveness at work bleeds into our personal lives leading to disengagement, unhappiness and counter-productivity in both business and life.

Q. So what do you do to turn around a messy process?
A. Understand the value of time constraints.

Once you understand the value of time constraints, you life will suddenly be free. With freedom you’ll be better enabled to provide joy to those you serve with intentional attention.

  • Like tidying your home (where everything has a place and is put in its place based on available space), the time it takes you to get work done will shrink based on completion constraints.
  • Look at an average day and how long it takes you to complete a task.
  • Then, try doing it 10% faster, 25% faster…cut the time in half!
  • When your distractions are eliminated and you cut the amount of time you have to complete a project…magic happens. Joy happens — for you and those you serve.

What will you do with all your newly found available time?

That’s up to you.

Beware the trap of doing more work.

Go play.

Do your favorite things. Hang with your favorite people. Do things that enthuse your soul.

At the end of the day, a messy life with a tidy business or a tidy life with a messy business isn’t tidy at all.

Go spark joy.

Want to Spark Joy in Your Life and Business?

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