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Marie Kondo for Lawyers: Tidying Up Your Law Office

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By George Khoury, Esq. on April 01, 2019 3:17 PM

If you're a living, breathing, person with a place to live and access to the internet, then the probability is high that you've at least heard of Marie Kondo and her magic of helping people tidy up. There's even a whole Netflix series, but first it was a book.

Now, Marie Kondo has become a movement. Her name even gets used as a verb (as in Marie Kondo'ing). And if you're into it, or your law practice is sorely in need of some tidying up, below you can get some helpful advice on how to apply the KonMari method to your law office. 

How the Method Works

In a nutshell, the KonMari method works by taking everything you have, one category, at a time, and putting it all in a pile, then going through it piece by piece, actually touching each item, to evaluate it based on the following criteria:

  1. Does the item "spark joy?"
  2. Is the item a necessity?

If both are answered no, then the item should be let go, discarded or donated. If either answer is yes, then the item should probably stay, and you should probably find a good place to store the item. The whole point of the method is to organize your space so it is clean, tidy, and that it and the things in it, bring you joy. In theory, this should help you focus and live/work better.

Applying the Method for Lawyers

For most lawyers, clearly the avalanching piles of papers on our desks aren't going to spark joy, but those fragile paper towers can't be discarded because they are a necessity of the work that must be done. But those majestic piles must be organized, and this is where the "categories" come in.

Kondo suggests tackling tidying up by category of item. For instance, books, clothes, piles of paper, kitchen items, etc... All those things, and more, are likely in your law office. You have to come up with the categories that will make sense for your practice based on what is cluttering up your office. It could be old tech, old files, old furniture, out-dated resources and guides, trial exhibits, or even your current case files.

Getting Started

Once you have your categories set up, schedule out the time to do each one, and start with the one that you know will contain items that spark joy, such as your office décor, or whatever category contains all the thank you and holiday cards you've received over the years from both colleagues and those pesky third-party vendors. Cards are good place to start as many might be sentimental, and spark joy, but still might not be something you want to keep as they just add to the clutter. Simply put, they're good practice for the bigger, more important, items.

When you start, it's essentially to actually gather all the items in one category from anywhere in the office all in one place, particularly if there are a lot of items in the category. If it sounds overwhelming, then good, because that's the point. Kondo explains that being overwhelmed by their stuff helps individuals when it comes to understanding whether an item "sparks joy."

After you have separated the items into the appropriate keep and discard piles, the next step can be just as difficult: Finding a place to put everything you want to keep so that it is no longer cluttering up your space.

The Joy of Organization

Fortunately, the more you de-clutter, the easier it becomes to put away and organize those things that bring you joy and that you need. And once you've finished the KonMari method, you'll be better able to keep your space clutter free, as you'll be likely to ask yourself whether anything you leave in your office sparks joy or is a necessity.

The KonMari method has helped countless people de-clutter their lives. But be forewarned, as the Netflix series shows, it's definitely just as difficult and time consuming as it sounds. Though, if you're drowning in clutter, it's probably worth the investment.

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