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Could the “Art of Tidying” Change Your Work Life?

By now, you’ve likely read an article or two about Marie Kondo, “tidying expert” and author of the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Kondo’s technique, dubbed the “KonMari method,” takes a ruthless but emotional approach to cleaning up living and work spaces. Kondo advocates purging unwanted items in one fell swoop vs. cleaning up a bit here and there. Since we often keep the same types of things in more than one place, she is adamant about tidying by category, not by area. So, for example, you shouldn’t organize one book shelf. Instead, organize ALL your books. Otherwise, you’ll end up back where you started (a messy, disorganized book collection) in a matter of days.

And, most importantly, she instructs all of her clients and readers to hold each possession in their hands and ask themselves “does this item bring me joy?” If the answer is “yes,” the owner should keep it. If the answer is “no,” they should thank the item for its service (yes, actually thank a book, a pair of socks, a lamp) and discard it.

It may sound a little unorthodox, but Kondo has sold over 2 million copies of her book, and her clients’ testimonials report everything from happier marriages to weight loss.

This got us thinking. How might office ninjas apply the KonMari method to their workspaces? We do, after all, spend 40+ hours surrounded by the items on our desks.

Here are a few ideas:

Writing Implements

I’ll venture to say there is joy in a really fantastic pen. You know – the kind that feels solid in your hand and smoothly glides over the page. If your desk drawer is filled with cheap, joyless, mismatched pens of varying degrees of function, toss them and hang on to the one that makes note taking a pleasure.

Same goes for notebooks and notepads. Does that thin, yellow legal pad from the supply closet spark joy? Maybe, in its crisp simplicity, it does. But maybe you’d be more inspired by a classic Moleskin? Kondo would tell you to hold your notebook in your hands and be honest with how you feel.


Stress balls, novelty key chains, logo-stamped pens… This is the kind of stuff that somehow accumulates without your noticing. And, before you know it, you look like the proprietor of a very tiny dollar store.

If that 4-in-1 mini highlighter fills you with joy, then, by all means, keep it. Otherwise ditch all the dust collectors.

(Post/Greeting) Cards

One important thing Kondo notes in her interviews is that choosing what to keep and what to discard shouldn’t just be based on what clearly needs to be thrown out. So, for example, it’s obvious that you’d toss a promotional postcard for a Black Friday sale in February. But, what about the handwritten thank you note from a vendor from a year ago? You may be tempted to hold onto it for sentimental reasons. But, if it doesn’t pass the joy test, let it go.


According to a recent survey, the average office ninja owns approximately 27 coffee cups, 15 travel mugs and 11 water bottles, half of which are currently stored at their place of employment.

Okay, we made that up. But, doesn’t it sound accurate? When it comes to drinkware, you likely have a lot of options. But there’s probably one perfectly constructed mug that keeps your coffee piping hot, never drips and just feels comforting in your hands. Why not keep that little gem and send the rest of his sub-par drinking buddies packing?

The important thing to remember is that the KonMari method isn’t about tossing stuff. It’s about surrounding yourself with objects for which you feel appreciation. In turn, you will live your daily (work)life with more gratitude and joy.

What items on your desk give you joy? Share with us in the comments below!


  1. How often have you been on the verge of pulling your hair out because you can’t find a particular piece of paper? How much would it reduce your day-to-day stress level if you didn’t have to look at stacks of unorganized stuff all week? This is a great time of year to grab one pile at a time and get every piece of paper where it belongs.

  2. I have been looking for help with the konmari method and office supply. I read the book but just need for their inspiration on how to manage all of my paper crap. I’ve read several blogs about the talk about the topic but just now but this finally makes sense thank you. I have a plan

    1. You got this, Laura! Let us know how the new plan works out :)

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