Apply Marie Kondo’s Method to Your To-do Lists

Apply Marie Kondo’s Method to Your To-do Lists

For as much energy as you put into creating the perfect to-do list and being productive, it’s just a fact that you also need to prioritize downtime and joy. You can schedule breaks using the Pomodoro technique and prioritize your tasks based on how long they’ll take and how many results they’ll yield, but you know what? Some of those tasks can just be eliminated, not based on data, calculations, or how many you can get done in your allotted time—but based on you just not wanting to do them. Hear me out: You should try to KonMari your to-do list.

How does KonMari apply to to-do lists?

Everyone knows about organizational guru Marie Kondo, whether from her books or her popular show, which focus on “tidying up” your living space, but her KonMari methodology can be adapted and applied to other areas of your life, too. She even has a book on tidying up your workspace, but we need to think bigger. You should tidy up your work, period.

At their most basic, Kondo’s cleaning recommendations call on you to chuck out any items that don’t “spark joy.” Why limit this thinking to physical clutter? Your to-do list is cluttered, too, with unnecessary and unfulfilling tasks.

How to KonMari your to-do list

To apply this organizational method to your responsibilities and tasks, familiarize yourself with Kondo’s six main principles:

  1. Envision your ideal home and lifestyle
  2. Commit to tidying up completely
  3. Let go and organize
  4. Tidy up by category
  5. Follow the correct order
  6. Only keep what sparks joy

To start, write down everything you have to do. Don’t leave a single task or responsibility out. Now, work on step one, envisioning your ideal lifestyle, or, in this case, work day. What would you do and focus on in your ideal day? It probably wouldn’t be menial tasks, other people’s responsibilities, or things outside of the scope of your job; it probably would include your core responsibilities and interests. Next, commit to “tidying up” completely, or eliminating the tasks that get in the way of that ideal work day. The third step is letting go and then moving onto organizing. Assess that exhaustive to-do list you wrote down. Do you see anything that you could just completely eliminate, like a wasteful call or a task that could be handled by someone else in your organization? You’ve already committed to tidying up. Now, all you need to do is cross those out, either forgetting them completely or delegating them to someone more appropriate.

Now you’re left with tasks and functions that align more with the scope of your job description and the things you are interested in doing. Categorize them. The categories won’t be as clear-cut as they are when using KonMari for cleaning, when you sort your items into clothes, books, papers, etc. Instead, they’ll be subjective, related to your daily activities. Try sorting by job responsibilities, like sales, communication, and data collection and analysis. Or, try sorting by office tasks, household tasks, and personal tasks. Whatever your to-do list is, you should see the patterns emerging that enable you to categorize the things you need to do. Once you’ve got them all sorted, rank them by importance. Maybe work tasks are more important than household tasks, which are more important than personal ones. Maybe sales are more important than data collection, but you need the data to effectively communicate with your team or clients, so you arrange those categories in that order. Tackle each category in order, working through the most important things first before moving on to less important ones.

That’s how you’ll ultimately break through step six, which is keeping the things that “spark joy.” When you use the KonMari method to clean, you’re not focusing on what you want to get rid of; you’re focusing on what you really want to keep. By doing this with your to-do list, you clear space for the most important tasks, but you also keep the less-important, joy-sparking ones on the list. Make sure you schedule time to do those fulfilling activities, because the point here is that you should be making time for happiness. Productivity requires breaks, but even fulfilling responsibilities—like grabbing coffee with a friend or helping your kid with homework—can be productive and spark joy. By tossing out the truly unnecessary garbage in your to-do list, you’ll have time for all of it.

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