Watch Marie Kondo's new hit Netflix show and you'll discover lots of important reasons to tidy up your home. An organized space will help you uncover your ideal lifestyle and live more joyfully. It will bring you peace and even help you get along better with your partner.

But according to at least one certified KonMari consultant, the Japanese tidying sensation's famous KonMari method won't just reboot your home life. It can also radically improve your work life too, helping you get more done in less time and with less stress.

"A cluttered desk is a time suck. It forces our brain to constantly re-assess what we need to do," insists Amanda Jefferson on Knowledge@Wharton. "Clutter in paper form is usually just delayed decision-making." 

Get the chaos in your office under control and you will be "always focused on the most important work at hand," she promises. "Clearing out mental and physical clutter opens up enormous space and clarity."

If more efficiency and a quieter mind at work sounds good to you, where do you start? Jefferson offers a multitude of suggestions in the article, including:

1. Set aside a "declutter day."

One of the peculiarities of Kondo's method is her insistence that client's tackle their tidying all at once rather than piecemeal over months. Focus, she insists, or you'll lose steam. Apparently, the same applies to an office declutter.

Set aside a specific day for your whole team to declutter together, Jefferson suggests. And schedule a pick-up of items for donation or deputize someone to take your bags of discards away to make it official. This "creates an awesome 'reset' and the end result is a lighter, more spacious office," she claims.

2. Don't neglect mental clutter.

So much of the clutter that gunks up the works at the office is mental rather than physical, so make sure you tidy your mind as well as your space. In practice that usually means making a list of obligations and actively removing those that no longer give you satisfaction.

"When my executive-level coaching clients are exploring what they want to do next in their career, I encourage them to 'make space' for their next opportunity by respectfully resigning from low-value obligatory commitments and other activities that drain their energy. Then they can transfer their newly found time and greater energy on higher priority meetings with strategic contacts," says executive coach Owen of her approach to this step.

Managers can use this exercise as a springboard for jobcrafting, i.e. an opportunity to redistribute tasks to employees who will enjoy them more and tackle them with more gusto.

"Let them stretch and shrink their jobs when possible. Maybe they love sales but hate writing proposals. Maybe they love the behind-the-scenes, but hate the schmoozing," Jefferson says. "Think about how you can help people re-engineer their jobs for more joy."

3. Think beyond individual spaces to the whole office.

Tidying up your individual desk is great, but you will see even greater benefits if your team works together to make sure your space as a whole sparks joy? Are files clearly laid out and easily accessible? Are you desks arranged for a good flow of light, humans, and air? Could you hide tangles of cables or various bits and bobs on some sort of pleasing storage solution?  

Published on: Mar 11, 2019
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