As a productivity expert, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve literally everything I do from writing to speaking to consulting. I’m constantly refining my presentations and tweaking my own systems to ensure that I get the most out of my time.
I’m an avid reader and note taker. I used to zip through about three to four books a week, but these days I’ve toned things down to about two to three books a month. Quality over quantity. My focus is on five main topics: time management, marketing, personal development, leadership, and copywriting of all things.
But every now and then, I come across a random book that catches my eye or piques my interest. I must admit that when I heard about the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I wasn’t exactly excited, but the title did intrigue enough that I couldn’t forget about it.
When my wife mentioned it to me that she had read it and found it a good, quick read, I decided to give it a shot. For anyone who has trouble finding things or organizing their home or office, I would say this is a must-read.
I wouldn’t call myself a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination, but I suppose I’m better than average as I do like things to be somewhat organized. Surprisingly though, I found some clever ideas in this book that I’ll be adding to my presentations. It’s much more than a book on tidiness. To me, much of the material links directly back to my specialty: time management.
While there’s a lot of clever ideas in the book, here are 7 ideas that I found most useful to myself and my clients.
1. Hall of Fame Books
Tony Robbin’s mentor, Jim Rohn, used to say, “Every home over $250,000 has a library. Why do you think that is?” I admit I hadn’t ever thought about it, but I got the message and today I have about 900 books in my own library.
That brings us to one big problem – space. The truth is, many of the books in my library will never be read again. I made sure to take notes of every business book I’ve read, so the likelihood of picking most of them up again is slim to none.
Kondo suggests that people only keep those that belong in the hall of fame. I think that’s great advice because so many people keep books around that they have no intention of ever opening again. Instead, have books on your shelves that excite you, that make you want to pick them up.
2. Organization = Power
There’s a quote from the book that really struck me – “Putting your house in order positively affects every aspect of your life.” I couldn’t agree more. Organization is power, whether it’s at the office or at home. Knowing where things are means no time wasted looking for them. It means being able to have access to what you need when you need it.
There are those people who will say that they have trouble getting organized. Harsh as this may sound, my comment is then they will likely never become successful. In today’s world, there is no reason why anyone can’t be organized. Virtuals assistants, online apps, smartphones, alerts, and any number of programs can help turn your life into a well-oiled machine.
3. Not Taught In School
“Tidying is not something that is taught. It’s something we are told to do, but have never been taught how to do it.” This is a trend I find perplexing. Students spend twelve years in school learning all the usual suspects. Yet so much of life isn’t taught in school.
I love the story of legendary NCAA coach, John Wooden, whose teams won an unprecedented 10 national championships. Yet, each year, the first day of practice consisted of a two-hour lesson on how to tie your shoes. That says something. It says that even the best players in the world, still need to learn the basics.
Tidying, like time management, is overlooked in just how much of an impact it can have on your life.
4. Philosophy First
According to Kondo, “People can’t change their habits without first changing their way of thinking. When people revert to clutter no matter how much they tidy, it is not their room or their belongings but their way of thinking that is at fault.” The same is true when it comes to finances, health, study, relationships, and food.
Our mindset affects everything we do. Adjusting our habits without the thinking behind them will end in failure as we will get pulled back to our old habits over time. To understand more about this concept I highly recommend Maxwell Maltz’s The New Psycho-Cybernetics.
5. Results Matter
Another of my favorite quotes in the book is “Success depends on experiencing tangible results immediately.” Thanks to the Internet, we have become a society that demands almost instantaneous results. It has permeated every aspect of our lives, most evidently in the health industry with their quick-fix diets and exercise equipment promising rock hard abs in less than a month.
Thankfully tidying is something that you can get almost instant results which will “empower you to keep your space in order ever after.” That’s why when working with clients I always focus on high impact ideas first. With those under their belt, they are able to see first hand just how powerful time management can be, and more willing to tackle the more difficult challenges.
6. Discard first
Throughout the book, Kondo asks one question over and over again, “Will keeping it make you happy, will it bring you joy?” She believes that “Tidying must begin with disgarding.” I couldn’t agree more. All one has to do is open your closet or pop into your garage to see that we have too much stuff, and the worst part is much of it will never get touched again.
Kondo talks about discarding items that “have outlived their purpose.” Whether it’s a bunch of old CDs or unused harddisks, there comes a time when we should say goodbye to many things. We have to learn to let go in order to move forward.
7. The Early Bird
Kondo mentioned that “The earliest lesson I ever conducted began at six thirty, and we were able to clean at twice the usual speed.” There’s something magical about getting started early. The morning is fresh, our brains are hopefully rested and it’s the perfect time to sit down and write, read or think. Night time, as I learned from Darren Hardy, is just the opposite. Our minds are shutting down, our bodies tired, our willpower weak. That’s why people tend to turn to their vices at night. Want to avoid eating that bag of potato chips or opening another bottle of wine? Go to bed early. Sounds simple, but it’s effective.