Ever since I spent a year living in Japan, the place has held something magical about it.
I had travelled a reasonable amount before going there; I’d seen a lot of Europe, been to the States and Canada, travelled in Central America and visited parts of Africa, but Japan was the first place where I experienced true culture shock and realised what that meant.
I was stepping into another world, which although a technologically advanced, developed world, was by no means, ‘Westernised’. I was glad of that. I spent an eye-opening year, discovering a new side to humanity.
I began to understand a very different perspective and found the year both educational and humbling.
There were so many things which I admired about the Japanese and their culture and some of their traits which have stayed with me are their work ethic, their deep sense of respect and gratitude.
So when Marie Kondo began sparking joy around the world, and I watched her weave her magic into other people’s homes and lives, I felt a strong sense of affection for the place I called home for 12 months.
Value and Respect
If you’ve watched the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, (everyone is talking about it right now), you’ll know that Marie Kondo is not simply teaching people to declutter and tidy up, she’s starting to unpick a culture of consumerism.
Her KonMari method teaches us to get rid of anything which we don’t love; which does not bring us joy. It asks us to thank our possessions for the service they’ve given, the usefulness they might have once had and in doing so, regain a respect for the things we own.
I know that when I’ve done a big clear out (and I’m the sort who does it big: all out at once, sort through, clean up, put back), I feel lighter, the house can breathe again and suddenly the books and ornaments which have survived the cull, shine more brightly. They feel like new again, rediscovered after years buried at the back of the shelf, part of the background, there, but not noticed or cherished.
Once the space is tidied and organised with only the favourite items on display, the desire to go out and buy more ‘stuff’ evaporates. You become selective about what you want in your home.
I’ve always found pleasure in decluttering, not just since living in Japan; I used to be a child who loved a tidy desk drawer and freshly sharpened pencils in the pot. Now, when I work from home, one of the things I love is being able to create a workspace that is personal and filled with the things that make me smile.
As homeworkers, we’re not condemned to the clinical, cloned workspace, illuminated by strip lights. We can make the most of working in our own homes by keeping it organised and having the things we love around us.
Having a workspace that sparks joy for you, whether that’s your own home office, a corner of your living
Choose your favourite scented candle, your most precious photograph and your cosy cushions or throws. Frame some prints or meaningful quotes, put your favourite pens in a stylish pot or just a mug you love.
Make the space inviting, and by keeping it clutter free, you can be more productive and showcase your favourite items, even if they are pretty post-it notes and some funky paperclips!
KonMari your space
Marie Kondo focuses on five categories of belongings when it comes to tidying up: clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous and sentimental.
For the home office, paper and books are the most likely culprits to be cramping your style, but depending on where in the home you work, your bulging wardrobe, box overflowing with old photos, or the ubiquitous kitchen junk drawer full of old pens could be cluttering your space just as much, and let’s not forget, your mind as well.
There’s a stereotype that creative types live a crazy, cluttered life, surrounded by overflowing drawers and bins of scrunched up paper. Whilst it might be true at times, a tidy workspace does as much good for your productivity as it does for your creativity.
There’s something cathartic about doing a huge clearout, getting rid of what’s no longer used and organising what’s left behind. A calm and orderly work environment can bring calm and order to everything else.
I find a pile of paperwork can be as blocking as a lack of clear direction. Once removed, things flow more easily; there’s room to let creativity back in.
Read our great article on how to apply Feng Shui to your workspace and become more intentional about your items in our Breathe Issue (issue 7).
So while a few extra storage boxes might not solve the underlying problem of having lots of stuff, while you pluck up the courage to tackle the decluttering or want somewhere to keep your newly-organised paperwork, we’ve found some storage solutions you’re sure to love.
Whether it’s an alternative to shelving, somewhere to keep receipts, hide extra cables or stash some notebooks, check out these space-saving and versatile finds.
For more productivity hacks and plenty of home office ideas and products, subscribe to The Homeworker magazine for a dose of inspiration every quarter.
Check out the systems to keep your workspace free from paperwork and for a digital declutter in the print issue volume 1.