How to Take Marie Kondo's Approach for Workflows and Processes

Entrepreneurs should declutter for productivity and efficiency.

By Suresh Sambandam

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marie Kondo, the world-famous organizing consultant, has taught us many things about productivity. Her KonMari method is a minimalism-inspired approach for increasing efficiency and productivity category-by-category rather than room-by-room. The key idea behind Kondo's method is discarding items that add no value. She encourages people to eliminate items that no longer have a purpose and to keep meaningful items.

In this era of hybrid work, employees are under more pressure to account for their time. Assessing and optimizing workflows can have a dramatic effect on productivity. 58% of high-performance employees need quieter, less cluttered workspaces to function better, and that's where the KonMari method comes in.

Whether your employees work remotely or in the office, decluttering their space is important as it reduces chaos and creates a perfect working environment. It's also important to declutter workflows to boost employee and organizational productivity. Decluttered workflows allow employees to focus on high-value work. They spend more time developing value-adding ideas and winning new business.

Here's how you can use Kondo's approach to improve your business.

Select the right categories to automate

The KonMari method focuses more on organizing by category rather than by location. When applying the method in your organization, focus on the processes that need automation, not the departments. Decide what to automate and how much to automate.

In every organization, multiple repetitive processes decrease the productivity of employees. But they are critical to business operations. The easiest and quickest way to streamline these processes is through automation. Focus on automating the tasks that don't require a lot of human intervention.

Automation can minimize mundane tasks and allow staff to focus on high-value work that aligns with business goals and objectives. Match employees' skills and strengths to their roles. High employee engagement reduces stress, improves health and boosts job satisfaction. And when employees are more productive, profits go up.

Take a minimalist approach

Kondo's approach is all about minimalism. While managing organizational processes is a key part of every business, it doesn't mean that the more processes you have, the more profitable you'll be. The only processes worth keeping are those that add value to the business. Eliminate obsolete processes — like paper-based processes — and increase efficiency.

The KonMari method is divided into two parts: discarding and organizing. Kondo believes the more items you get rid of, the easier it is to stay organized. About 120,000 deaths in the U.S. every year are linked to workplace stress. In fact, almost 80% of employees suffer from some form of burnout. When employees work on what they love, engagement, productivity and job satisfaction go up.

Automation streamlines workflows and eliminates duplication. When combined with autonomy, it can increase organizational productivity. When employees get to decide which tasks to do, when to do them and how much time to spend on them, they are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout.

Related: 4 'Unproductive' Habits That Make You More Productive

Eliminate unnecessary processes

Kondo has adapted the lean techniques in the 5S business manufacturing method into the first 3s: seiri (sort), seiton (straighten), and seiso (shine, sweep). 5S is Toyota's Production System (TPS), a process-improvement method whose key focus is to eliminate waste.

The KonMari method is all about carefully selecting what you want to keep and getting rid of everything else. The method emphasizes discarding items that don't add any value. Select the workflows to automate in your organization and how much to automate. If some tasks don't add value to your business, discard them.

Processes are meant to help your company run better, but changing market conditions cause them to constantly evolve. Workflows that once added value may need to be modified or replaced.

The 5S approach helps organizations streamline workflows and eliminate waste. Because everything has a place, employees can find tasks easily and manage processes better. This reduces time wastage and increases productivity.

Kondo talks extensively about eliminating paper. This approach is useful in business because it enhances operations. Paper documents are unsafe, take up a lot of space and give your employees more work. Digitize them and put them on one platform for easy accessibility.

Related: 5 Strategies to Becoming More Purposeful and Productive

Integrate automation seamlessly

It's natural for people to resist change because they don't know what it brings. But once they see that it's beneficial, their outlook changes. Kondo's method will help you declutter your workflows, but it's her tidying technique that will help you acquire a new mindset. Your employees may think automation means losing their jobs, when you make them see they are wrong, they will embrace it.

Engage your employees throughout the automation process and make them own it. Gain their trust by training them to use the software to their advantage. Make it clear that they're still important and help them adjust to their new roles. Incorporate automation seamlessly and make the process gradual to give your team time to learn.

Consistently review processes and workflows

The KonMari approach encourages people to consistently tidy up and discard unnecessary things rather than clean at a go. When you constantly review automated workflows, you can improve them to increase efficiency. Once you install automation software, don't stop there. Review the workflows every now and then to ensure there are no bottlenecks. You may identify opportunities for improvement.

Periodic evaluations also help you determine if the automated workflows are providing the expected results. If the results aren't good, see what you can change or eliminate. You can also consider trying different automation software.

Use the KonMari method and boost productivity

There are multiple ways you can apply Kondo's approach in the business environment. If you value productivity and efficiency, use the technique to declutter workflows systematically. You'll create a better work environment with motivated employees.

Related: To Be Incredibly Productive, Do One Meaningful Task Each Day

Suresh Sambandam

CEO of Kissflow

Suresh Sambandam is the CEO of Kissflow, a global software company offering a suite of no-code and low-code software products rooted in the power of simple. He has three U.S. patents to his credit.

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