It's that time of year again - spring cleaning! It sounds awful, but it's doesn't have to be that way. As Marie Kondo has taught so many, it can be a cathartic experience that makes way for new, better things - and it can even spark joy.

Every year, I go through a "business spring cleaning" where I review my files, clients, and more to find where I can and should cut, and where I'm missing golden opportunities. It helps me reset my priorities, focus on those more important items, and feel more at peace in my workspace. It reinvigorates my passion for the work while also making me more efficient. With all the attention the KonMari method is bringing to the necessity of decluttering, it seems like a good occasion to revisit organizing strategies for business, too.

Here are Kondo's 6 Principles of Tidying, applied to business:

1. Commit to tidying up.

The first step is making the decision to clean up your stuff. It will take effort, but it will be worth it. Psych yourself up for the job, and write down reminders of why you're doing it. Keep the list easily accessible so you can return to it when you're feeling frustrated.

2. Imagine your ideal business.

What do you really want to do? I'm not suggesting you quit your job or totally abandon a functional strategy (unless that's what it takes!). I am suggesting you envision how your job could and should be. Does the ideal person get to work earlier in the morning? Does the ideal person always set aside 30 minutes a day to a particular task? Identify what you'd like your day to be like to maximize efficiency and increase satisfaction.

3. Finish discarding first.

Get rid of the stuff you know is clutter. All those free pens you got at that conference? Give them to your local school. Random pieces of scrap paper that are all over your desk? Recycle them. The books from grad school you like to reminisce over? Donate them to the library. Remember that tax and audit documentation only have to be retained for a certain number of years. You have to clear your space, before you can really clear your space.

4. Tidy by category.

Now that your clutter is gone, you can get start organizing what's left. The key for the KonMari Method is that you tackle by category. That means tackling your entire client list in one swing, or considering all your client files at once. It's the best way to see what you've got and what you really need. You can even consider your office wardrobe to be a category, even though you keep it at home.

5. Follow the right order.

The proper KonMari order is clothes, books, papers, household items, and sentimental items. That doesn't translate perfectly to business, but I've made some connections. I suggest: marketing, books, papers, office items, and people, each broken down into appropriate subcategories. So for example, office item subcategories could include office supplies, furniture, and cabinets. People subcategories could include employees, clients, and contractors. Kondo suggests saving the hardest for last, which is why you should tackle everything else before you try to deal with people.

6. Ask if it sparks joy.

When it comes to things like books and office supplies, this is a fantastic strategy. If you reference that business book all the time and it reminds you of that great class in grad school, hang on to it. But if it's a pamphlet from a contractor explaining a marketing strategy that you don't really agree with or use, dump it. There's simply not enough in there to warrant the space it takes up. Here's where it gets more difficult: people. Is there an employee who simply is not a culture fit, no matter the effort you make to get him aligned? It's time to say goodbye. Is there a client who takes all your time but constitutes a tiny fraction of your revenue? Consider moving on from the relationship. It's hard, but it opens you up to new and better employees and clients.

Published on: Mar 13, 2019
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