Marie Kondo’s name is on everyone’s lips these days. Thanks to her book The Lifechanging Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and popular show on Netflix, Goodwill centers all over the country are overflowing with donations as housecleaning becomes a national phenomenon. But although my pantry now looks spectacular, Kondo’s wisdom isn’t just for spring cleaning the home; there’s much we can take from her Konmari method of tidying up to help us run businesses of all sizes better.
Start with gratitude
Before she starts tidying, Kondo begins by thanking every new house for providing a home and shelter to its inhabitants. This is a moment of silence in which she “communes” with a house. This action sets a tone that establishes the value of even the messiest house and resets the relationship its inhabitants have with it. For small businesses, it’s also important to take time to reset. Frustration with coworkers? Take time to think of some reasons you’re thankful they’re on your team. Gratitude is an easy way to bring things back into perspective. While some work relationships require a full-scale reboot, others are fixable if you look deep enough for new ideas and inspiration.
Focus on what’s “important”
The premise of the Konmari method is that we should keep only that possessions that “spark joy.” For your business, it’s important to have the same level of focus; but instead of keeping the things that spark joy, you keep the things (or activities) that drive business results. At small businesses, where every minute counts and every project can be a make-or-break deal, focus is especially important. Kondo followers understand that it’s important to not allow yourself to be pulled in a million directions or to fill your calendar with clutter. Retain focus on what’s important -- what sparks “business joy” -- and you will be primed to reach your goals.
Simplify and streamline
Kondo believes the best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t. This advice works great in your closet, but its metaphorical lesson is a great one to apply at work too. Are there items in your office you’re holding onto for no reason? Employees who aren’t bought into the vision? Systems that overlap? Streamline your business to help it run more efficiently, identify areas that need improvement, and set up your business for growth.
One of the things Marie Kondo is best known for is the way she folds and organizes t-shirts. This level of organizational rigor works well for businesses too. It’s easy for a company — especially a small one where everyone wears lots of hats — to get overwhelmed by “stuff,” whether it’s physical files, sales leads, or customer data. Simple things like file structures and common naming conventions make a huge difference. You’ll also want to use a CRM like Salesforce Essentials to manage your customer information and connect all your systems on one platform.
Do what’s right for you
One piece of advice for which Kondo has received negative feedback was her suggestion that you should get rid of books that you aren’t going to read or reread. For most book lovers that’s blasphemy! Many of us love a cozy room full of books, and the feeling of being transported back in time when we can pull our copy of The Great Gatsby off of the shelf and see notes from high school in the margins. However, when Kondo was pushed by journalists for a comment, she suggested that everyone should just “do what’s right for you.” And that’s always great advice. While leaders are right to examine their business from all angles, there’s no need to fix something that’s not broken. Do what’s right for the business.
Marie Kondo has inspired me in so many ways. Not only is my pantry neat and organized, but her wisdom sparks joy for me at the office too. I hope these Konmari lessons will also inspire businesses of all sizes to find ways to learn from her.
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