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Everyone’s talking about the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, inspired by her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And the KonMari method can work for more than just your closets and your kitchen cabinets; with a little bit of cleverness, you can put Marie Kondo’s basic organization ideas to work in your writing space or home office.
And who knows—a little bit of organizing might affect your writing process in positive new ways and help you become a better writer!
Writer’s Relief checks out six basic principles of Marie Kondo’s organizing methods—and how to make them work for writers:
- Commit to the process. Rethinking the way you organize your writing space is going to take some time and energy; sticking to your decisions could take even more. But when you make the decision to commit to the process from day one, you may find you’re more likely to be successful.
- Imagine your ideal writing space. When you close your eyes, what do you picture your very best writing space looks like? Take notes, write down specific details, and think things through—before you make any actual changes. If you start working before you have a dream vision, you might be more inclined to give up when things don’t work perfectly. HINT: Create a Pinterest board to keep track of your ideas.
- Tidy by category. When you begin sorting and organizing your writing supplies, consider grouping the items you use by their function. Don’t keep anything you don’t need: Discard or donate the items that you haven’t used in a long time. Holding on to things just in case you might need them simply takes up storage space. So those ribbons for a manual typewriter you don’t even have anymore—toss ’em.
- Don’t get distracted. By focusing on categories of items, you’ll be better able to stay focused during the tidying process. Pick a category and stick to it. When you find an old family photo album tucked in a bottom desk drawer, put it aside and remind yourself that you’re focusing on writing tools right now—there will be time to muse on the album later.
- Follow Marie’s order for organizing. Marie recommends that you organize a space by the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and sentimental items. You may not have any clothes stored inside your desk (and if you do, it’s definitely time to rethink your writing space), but you probably do have books, papers, miscellany, and even sentimental items. Click here to learn more specifics about Marie’s method for sorting and organizing books—a very important skill for a writer!
- Pay attention to what sparks joy. To make Marie’s method work for the items you use in your writing space, ask yourself if what you’re holding sparks joy. It could be for any reason. Maybe the desk calendar is super functional and has all the bells and whistles to boost your productivity. Or maybe that pencil holder in the shape of a duck with googly eyes just makes you smile. If it sparks joy—keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service, and say goodbye. A writer’s life will always have some rejection in it, so don’t underestimate the importance of things that make you feel happy.
What About Writers Who Thrive On Chaotic, Disorganized Spaces?
An organizational guru like Marie Kondo might look askance at the crazily disorganized spaces that some famous writers swear by. But our feeling is, if “disorganization” works for your creative process, then by all means—make haphazard piles of books, stuff drawers to bursting, and let the randomness of it all inspire you. Read more about writers and thinkers who had messy offices—and loved it.
Question: Have you tried the KonMari method? Thumbs up or thumbs down?