Tidiness, the Japanese Way

~by Maria Marc~


Tidiness and de-cluttering our life could be a rather simple task according to some, or a hard daunting task according to others. We know that keeping our environment organized impacts our wellbeing and our productivity, be it at work or home.



How can we incorporate tidiness in our busy day schedule? If you haven’t yet found a system that works for you here are two methods we can implement at work and home.


5S, a concept developed by Hiroyuki Hirano, is a structured program to implement workplace organization and standardization. 5S represents five disciplines for maintaining a visual workplace:

  1. Sort: Distinguish between the necessary and unnecessary; get rid of what you do not need. When in doubt, move it out.
  2. Set in Order: Arrange essential items in order for easy access. Clearly designate names and places, easy-to-read notice boards, quick and easy retrieval of documents.
  3. Shine: Keep things clean and tidy; no trash or dirt in the workplace.
  4. Standardize: Establish standards and guidelines to maintain a clean workplace. Make standards so that any abnormality becomes visible.
  5. Sustain: Make 5S a habit and teach others to adhere to established standards.


The KonMary Method is a home de-cluttering concept created by Japanese tidiness expert Marie Kondo.

  • Visualize your ideal life in your living space.  The goal is to create a space that improves your body and mind.
  • Do it all at once and do it now.  You need to set aside some time and tackle everything all together.
  • Throw away everything you don’t love.  Don’t throw away randomly, instead hold each item in your hand and think about its significance to you. Put your past in order and gain clarity about the future you want.
  • Discard first, sort and tidy later.  Be willing to let go of what you no longer need, determine the purpose of the object and decide whether that purpose has been achieved. Let go with love…
  • Set everything in each category in one place first.
  • Start with the easiest categories  (clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous items). Sentimental items should be sorted last as they take longer.
  • Fit your paperwork in one place – but in two categories: papers to be saved, and papers to be dealt with.
  • Fold your clothes and store them standing up.  Most clothes (outside heavy coats, trousers, delicate dresses and suits) do better folded. ‘Depending on thickness you can fit from 20 to 40 pieces of folded clothing in the same amount of space required to hang 10’, says Marie Kondo.
  • Surround yourself with neatly organized things that make you happy.  Strive for simplicity and visual order when storing and organizing. Do not buy expensive or complicated storage equipment. The only thing that is truly useful is a shoebox, says Kondo.
  • You only need to tidy once to make a lasting change in your life.  If home tidiness feels like a daunting task, you can make it a special event – a fresh start on the trail to your ideal life.


Ultimately it is up to you to develop the kind of space that reflects your ideal future.

“You say I’m messy. I say my things are arranged in an abstract manner intentionally as a part of my unquenchable thirst for creative expression.” — Unknown


Meet the Author: Maria Marc

Maria Marc


Maria recently launched her own consulting practice, www.OptimummCoaching.com, through which she offers support in the areas of organizational change, continuous improvement and career transition.

Learn more about Maria: https://leadershipgirl.com/about-maria-marc/

Maria is a regular contributor for Leadership Girl.


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