Marie Kondo on how to stay tidy when working from home

Lifestyle maestro Marie Kondo is back.

The Japanese organizing consultant and TV host first rose to prominence with Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which saw her help people declutter their homes and pinpoint which objects “spark joy” in order to determine what to keep and what to purge.

Her new show “Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo” (now streaming) continues her minimalist methods while also moving into the workplace. In the show, Kondo helps small businesses including a plant nursery and a coffee shop, and shows snippets of her own home life with her husband Takumi Kawahara and their three toddlers.

Kondo, 36, answered some questions for The Post via email.

Marie Kondo organizes a closet next to her translator in "Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo."
Marie Kondo organizes a closet on “Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.”
Kit Karzen/Netflix

On this show, you help people organize their workplaces. The pandemic has caused many families to work from home — what are your tips for staying tidy when more than one person in a household is working from home? 

It is important that you have designated space for work and supplies for yourself, as well as the others in your home. If you share a desk with your spouse or partner, it’s even more important to have separate boxes for each person to keep work supplies so you know exactly where your items are. Your commitment to tidying could also inspire your partner or roommate to do the same. Set aside time for both of you to talk about each other’s work schedule and have good communication, especially between family members. It can help keep everyone on task and supporting each other if one is tied up with work.

Marie Kondo inspects a water bottle on "Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo."
Marie Kondo inspects a water bottle on “Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.”
Adam Rose/Netflix

If you are working from home in a small apartment, what are your suggestions for how to stay tidy? 

There are small actions you can take to signal the start to your workday, which will help the space feel different when it is being used as an office versus home. For example, at 9am you light your ‘workday’ candle or turn on a desk lamp. Similarly, set a time to end the workday. At that time, blow out the candle, put the laptop and paperwork away, and do something that signals the start to personal time.

That could be something as simple as changing into more comfortable clothes, putting on meditation music, or walking around the block. Regardless of how compact your workspace is, your productivity and joy improve by having a calm, uncluttered area. First, ensure that your workspace only includes items essential to your daily work and that each of those things has its place. If you don’t have an office or even a desk, try tidying with a set of drawer organizers that can be used in a dresser or an organized folio or tote with compartments. Then, allow yourself to add one small item that brings joy like a picture, candle or vase.

Marie Kondo stands across a table from a father and son duo who own a plant nursery on "Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo."
Marie Kondo helps a father and son duo who own a plant nursery on “Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.”
Adam Rose/Netflix

How can a couple best divide cleaning up tasks in order to keep their home tidy?

Ensure that you are holding up your part of the organizing and tidying. This can be positively contagious – when your partner sees you holding up your part of the responsibilities, they will often follow suit. I recommend also setting aside some time regularly to tidy as a couple, especially if you have items that you share. Ultimately, the person that uses the item more frequently should decide to keep it or let it go, but it’s important to have that conversation and ask how the other person uses the item. Rather than focusing on what hasn’t been done, use the time to focus on your tidying tasks proactively and positively as a team.

Marie Kondo, right, stands next to a pile of clothes opposite a small buisiness owner.
Marie Kondo helps a woman who owns a small coffee shop get organized on “Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.”
Adam Rose/Netflix

This show goes into your family life a little bit, too. How does keeping your house tidy and organized impact your relationship with your husband?

Work-life balance is more important than ever for us. We approach this in the same way that we do the KonMari Method—visualizing our ideal balance, recognizing and embracing the things that speak joy, and graciously discarding things that no longer serve us. My husband, Takumi, and I started that approach to work-life balance after we had our first child and it is something we revisit regularly to ensure we are working toward our vision for the future. 

Marie Kondo holds up notes on organizing household tasks with her husband, Takumi Kawahara.
Marie Kondo holds up notes on organizing household tasks with her husband, Takumi Kawahara.
Adam Rose/Netflix

If you have young children at home and are trying to keep your entire home as tidy as it was before they were home (or born!), then I will share a valuable lesson from my most recent book, Joy at Work: “Don’t aim to keep things perfectly tidy when your children are little.’’ That said, you should still have at least one space that brings you joy and is tidied just for you! It can be as small as your drawers in the kitchen desk or your closet. You have less space that you can control when you have little ones, which makes those limited spaces that you can control even more imperative to tidy.


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