You don’t need a visit from a world-famous organization guru to declutter and organize your office, restaurant or shop. You just need a few practical tips.
Decluttering your small business starts with a few housekeeping tasks. (Photo: Little Pig Studio/Shutterstock)
By Jaime Bender
If you’re human and own a TV, you’ve likely heard of the “magic” of Marie Kondo, the petite Japanese organization guru who first rose to popularity with her bestselling self-help book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and later pivoted into Netflix series stardom. Her guidance encourages people to only keep items that “spark joy” for them, and to express gratitude to the items they’re discarding. With her upbeat, zen-like demeanor, Kondo has helped countless homeowners find balance and peace in their once-cluttered homes, and garnered a legion of fans who swear by her trademarked KonMari method.
But what, you might be wondering, can these highly coveted methods do for your small business? With the help of Miriam Gold, another professional organizer who incorporates some of Kondo’s tips in her own work as owner of Gold Standard Organizing, we’re encouraging you to ask yourself these five questions to determine whether your business is struggling with clutter, disorganization or poor use of space.
Author and series host Marie Kondo (left) has started a worldwide obsession with her KonMari method of tidying up. (Photos: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images and CAITLIN WILSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Does your business ‘spark joy’ for you?
Like the home you make, the work you do should bring you joy. Working in a cluttered, impersonal or sterile space can cloud such joy, or even make you miserable.
While Kondo encourages determining whether each item in your space “sparks joy,” Gold goes a step further, helping clients look at the entirety of the space as the source of such joy, and working until they have a space that is free of chaos, disorder and stress.
Professional organizer Miriam Gold
“I think that a cluttered office breeds a cluttered mind,” she said. “The more streamlined your space is, the easier it will be to work in. Some personal items like pictures or artwork, or a cute pencil holder your child made, makes an office feel homey and warm.”
Do your clients/customers feel comfortable and calm in your space?
If you run a business that depends highly on foot traffic, the flow of such traffic is an integral part of your shop. “If the flow isn’t working, it can waste time and frustrate customers,” Gold said. “The muffins at your coffee shop might be amazing, but if the congestion of people and disorder make it an unpleasant experience, it might dissuade people from visiting.”
This is where that life-changing magic – something Kondo touches on frequently – can come in handy. Creating a calm, comfortable space for customers will reflect back onto the relationships you have with them, and their communications with you. “Think about the client experience first,” Gold advised. “How will they get in and out quickly and easily? One location to order and pay and a separate location to pick up. If space is really tight, then customers should quickly be able to order and pay and then wait out of the way until their name is called and order is completed.”
Do you have a simple routine for routing paperwork?
Paperwork is one of the biggest complaints Gold hears from her clients. To combat this, she takes a page from the run-of-the-mill email program and sets up two files in an area of the office close to the computer. “I always create an inbox and outbox file area,” she explained. “But along with that, the most important tip is to have them set up a specific time each week to empty their inbox as well as managing their outbox. When they get into a routine, they are able to see that what seemed insurmountable is really quite doable and does not actually take as much time and brain power as they thought it would.”
Also, for some of her tech-challenged clients, Gold always touts the ease of online apps and programs that can reduce paperwork. “Online bill pay is a lifesaver,” she said. “There are also apps to scan receipts and put them in an Excel spreadsheet so you don’t have to keep all these miscellaneous receipts.”
And what about computer files?
Much like the KonMari method of folding items in drawers neatly and in a way that they can be seen and accessed easily, Gold said it’s important to label your computer files simply, using as many subfolders as you need, and make them accessible when you need them,
“For each person and business, this will look different, but the most important thing to remember is to label these files clearly and in a way that you will know to search for it,” she said. “It could be something basic like ‘School’ or ‘Taxes’ or more intricate like ‘Home’ with subfolders for ‘mortgage,’ ‘repairs,’ ‘deed,’" etc.”
Have you utilized your storage space efficiently?
One of the most common challenges small business owners face, Gold said, is lack of space for merchandise, office equipment and other essential items. To that, she advises clients to look at the space from the ground up.
“Remember to utilize space up to the ceiling,” she said.
But, she also said that if the clutter in your storage area is piling up too high, the problem might be that you have too much stuff, rather than not enough space.
Kondo, for her part, urges people not to waste money on intricate filing cabinets and storage systems, because the only reason we think we need them is that we have too much stuff. When that happens, it might be time to donate some items that your business isn’t using anymore – but don’t forget to thank them first.