4 tips for turning your home into a productive work space, according to tidying expert Marie Kondo

Tidying expert and bestselling author Marie Kondo.
Photo credit: KonMari Media, Inc.

Tidying expert and bestselling author Marie Kondo is known for helping millions of people to transform and organize their homes.

Through her company, KonMari Media, Inc., Kondo has provided clients around the world with the products, services and content needed to de-clutter their living space in order to "spark joy" in their life. Now, the star of Netflix's 2019 series, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," is using her same expertise to not only help clients maintain a certain level of organization in their personal lives, but in their work lives as well. 

In her newly released book, "Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life," which she co-wrote with Rice University business school professor Scott Sonenshein, Kondo explains that similar to tidying up your home, "tidying the workplace sparks joy in our work, helping us to become more organized and achieve better results."

Though work life today looks completely different for millions of professionals due to the pandemic, Kondo emphasizes that there are still ways in which you can tidy up your space to create room for joy no matter the location. Below, she outlines four small steps you can follow to turn your home environment into a productive spot for both working and living.

Tidying expert and bestselling author Marie Kondo.
Photo credit: KonMari Media, Inc.

1. Mark the start of your day

With the current health crisis forcing millions of people to work from home for extended periods of time, Kondo tells CNBC Make It that it's imperative for individuals to set clear boundaries between work life and personal life. 

To do this, she suggests starting each morning with a standard ritual or activity that will mark the start of your work day. "I strike a tuning fork and diffuse essential oils to signal to my body that I'm switching gears," Kondo says of her morning routine. 

She also communicates to her two children when she's starting her work day so that there is a clear understanding of when she is and isn't available. "They might knock loudly from time to time," she says of her kids trying to open her office door, "but they understand that there is a boundary and they may have to wait a moment."

2. Identify the items that are most important

After doing an activity that signals the start of your day, Kondo says one of the first steps to keeping your home office organized is to "identify the items that are crucial to you getting your job done and designate a clear spot for them" in your space. 

Then, she says, you want to move all items that are not related to work out of that space so that you aren't distracted by them. Clearing this clutter, according to research by Harvard Business Review, will not only decrease your levels of stress and anxiety, but will also help you to focus and process information better so that you are more productive at work. 

Kondo adds that after clearing out the unnecessary items, you should then add one item to your work space that sparks joy for you when you look at it. "I always keep a crystal or small vase of fresh flowers on my desk," she says, while emphasizing that a "calm, uncluttered environment" is key for enhancing "both productivity and joy" at work.

Tidying expert and bestselling author Marie Kondo.
Photo credit: KonMari Media, Inc.

3. Store work items in a portable container

If you're working in a small apartment or space where you don't have a designated home office, then Kondo says storing your essential work items in a box or portable carrier is crucial to helping you stay organized. 

"If you work from the living or dining room, for example, store all of your work items in a box or basket so you can move your tools with you," she says. Then, when you're ready to take a break, she suggests moving those items out of sight "so they don't distract you during dinner or downtime."

Creating a designated box or "home" for your items, she says, will make it easier for you to neatly put things away when they're not in use and it will make it easier for you to find things when they're needed. 

4. Make space for downtime

To avoid the pattern of working overtime with very little break at home, Kondo says it's important to make room for downtime throughout the day in order to avoid burnout. 

"Block out windows on your calendar to turn off notifications, take a walk or simply let your mind wander," she says. "Your creativity will be replenished and your brain will be sharper."

Her idea of scheduling downtime is supported by research from Psychology Today which shows that taking a break from work can improve your physical and emotional health, prevent decision fatigue and restore motivation for achieving your goals. 

Though working from home has been far from easy for many professionals today, Kondo says it's important to create a "space that supports [you]" both when you're working and when you're not. By tidying up and making room for downtime, she says, you will be able to "get in touch with what you really want," find out "what you need to change" and "find more joy in your environment."

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