Ever since Marie Kondo introduced her unique way of tidying up, the KonMari Method has become the gold standard of organizing. However, the organizational techniques she teaches aren’t only applicable to physical things and spaces. Her methods can also help teams develop stronger organizational skills in the workplace.
Making the Business Case for Improving Organizational Skills
Simply defined, organizational skills refer to your ability to hone in and stay focused on several tasks. It’s efficiently and effectively using your time, energy, mental capacity, and other resources to achieve your desired outcome.
Employees with excellent organizational skills stand out. They remain composed during busy seasons despite the heavy workload and hectic schedule. They deliver project deliverables on time and on budget. They are agile and flexible, effectively adapting to changes in systems, workflows, and processes with minimal disruptions.
Based on several studies, there are hard numbers and solid metrics associated with strong organizational skills and their impact on business performance:
- 57% of business leaders lose 6 hours per week due to disorganization, which is equivalent to $11,000 per year in lost time among those who are earning an annual salary of $50,000.
- 29% of employees believe that disorganization is more harmful to office morale than gossip.
Having disorganized colleagues can negatively impact the morale of otherwise productive employees (Image Source).
- 80% of employees agree that disorganized co-workers negatively affect the overall productivity of the entire company.
As you can see, disorganization goes beyond cluttered desks, inefficient task planning, and muddy communication. It impacts businesses to the point of hurting profitability.
Applying the KonMari Method to Improve Your Team’s Organizational Skills
Given the repercussions of disorganization, improving the organizational skills of business teams is a perennially discussed topic among experts and business leaders, who are always on the lookout for organizational strategies that can give companies a competitive advantage.
The KonMari Method is one such powerful system that can be effectively applied to help businesses improve the organizational skills of their employees.
Here are 4 recommendations based on KonMari principles:
1. Remove or Minimize Tasks That Don’t “Spark Joy”
Most people have heard of the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the results we achieve come from 20% of our effort. This means that on average, employees spend 80% of their time on activities that only produce 20% of their desired outcomes. These are called non-essential tasks.
Nonessential tasks clutter the to-do lists of employees, which affects everyone regardless of role, industry, or discipline. According to Workfront’s 2019 The State of Work report, 16% of employees’ time per week is spent on emails, 12% on administrative tasks, 8% on wasteful meetings, and 8% on interruption for nonessential tasks. This leaves employees with only 40% of their work hours per week to perform the primary duties of their jobs.
Nonessential tasks such as answering emails, wasteful meetings, and administrative tasks are cluttering the day-to-day to-do duties of employees (Image Source).
The centerpiece of the KonMari method of tidying up is getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy.” Applying the same concept, you can improve your organizational skills by looking at how you’re spending your time at work. The next step is to eliminate as many non-essential tasks as possible to free up your plate to do things that actually matter—tasks that make you feel accomplished at the end of the workday. Eliminating or minimizing tasks that don’t spark joy significantly reduces clutter, allows you to prioritize things that move business objectives forward, and makes your team more organized overall.
This is only possible if you track how your team allocates time at work. Cloud-based time clock software that allows you to track and monitor how your team is spending its time—both at a macro and granular level—is the most effective way to identify nonessential tasks and time black holes.
2. Effectively Delegate Tasks Through Categorization
Another pillar to Marie Kondo’s art of organizing is categorization. She outlines five major categories that people need to organize: clothes, books, papers/documents, miscellaneous items, and mementos.
Categorizing tasks is one of the tried-and-tested ways to optimize organizational skills as it leads to the development of a key skill common among those with strong organizational capabilities: effective delegation.
Here are a few categories of tasks that are better off delegated:
- Necessary but low-value tasks
- Tedious and repetitive tasks
- Important tasks outside of your core strengths
Company co-founder of Successful Culture and change management specialist Marissa Levin gives the following example of delegation: “A CEO client recently won her largest placement contract. The company must fill more than 100 positions. Her initial instinct was to personally start the recruiting process. I re-directed her to consider hiring an outsourced recruiting firm or to bring in a part-time recruiter. This is a terrible use of the CEO’s time because she is needed at a much higher level in the organization, and she is not a recruiting expert.”
3. Standardize Workflows with Process Documentation
In addition to categorization, standardization is an important backbone of the KonMari Method. There’s one way of doing things—one way to fold clothes, one way to file documents, one way to store miscellaneous items, etc.
One of the primary objectives of improving organizational skills is to achieve a certain level of predictability, replicability, and consistency when it comes to output quality. This can only be achieved if everyone on your team is following the same steps using clear, concise, and easy-to-use process documents.
Creating process documents may take time in the beginning, but as Benjamin Franklin said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”
If you’re a manager or a business leader, this doesn’t only create better organization among your teams. It also lessens the time that you need to spend to check the quality of their output because you’re assured they followed the best practices that you set.
4. Take Advantage of Productivity Technology
In Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, she would always bring organization tools such as storage boxes to the house of the person or family she was helping.
Similarly, in today’s modern workplaces where days are getting busier and tasks are getting more complicated, productivity has become synonymous with taking advantage of time tracking technology — a carefully thought out use of digital tools, whether cloud-based or locally installed. Apart from a time tracking system, the following are the tools that your team should have in its arsenal:
- A project management tool that you can use to track, delegate, and monitor the progress of tasks
- Automation tools that smartly fulfill repetitive tasks
- All-in-one platforms that integrate several business functions in a single, easy-to-manage system
- Self-service online kiosks/portals
There are many solutions available on the market today. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a problem to find the tools that will work for you based on your current needs and budget.
Strong Organizational Skills Equals Strong Businesses
You may hear within business teams today that if you look hard enough, there is a certain order in the chaos of how they perform their work. There may be some truth to this, but at the end of the day, it’s the results that matter. Exceptional organizational skills lead to better productivity, a more positive company culture and employee morale, and higher profitability.
In exploring how the KonMari Method can be applied in the workplace, you can see that organizing your home life is not that different from developing workplace organizational skills. With the right combination of tools, along with being more intentional in how your team uses its time, achieving stronger organizational skills is completely realistic.