Minimalism has been rejuvenated in the past couple of years, mainly inspired by Marie Kondo’s take on decluttering one’s home, with Kondo herself and many other commentators exploring how every aspect of one’s life could be improved by adopting a minimalist approach. This is not a new theory of course, with minimalism in art first gaining prominence in the West in the 60s and 70s, then minimalism in the workplace with Toyota’s development of Kanban, lean manufacturing and just-in-time production in Japan from the late 1940s on.
A first stop to get an idea of what minimalism should mean for business (or in any aspect of life) is a paraphrasing of an Albert Einstein quote: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
So, can that principle create a minimalistic work strategy that works for your team or organization? Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits.
Declutter physical and digital spaces
Apart from the direct impact on productivity that clutter causes by making it harder to find the things that you need, there is also the mental atmosphere created by relative workplace chaos. Whether it’s unused folders or objects on desks or unnecessary documents or programs on desktops, these objects serve as a constant reinforcement of the idea that clutter is ok and having a streamlined approach isn’t that necessary.
For that simple reason alone, team members should be encouraged to keep spaces clear and organized, if only to create an atmosphere where those ideas are valued.
Prioritize essential tasks
A study of top executives at $1 billion-dollar companies found that 80% of their top executives’ time was taken up by tasks which accounted for less than 20% of their organization’s long-term value. This means that their workflow was being dominated by issues which should not have had such high priority.
When implementing minimalism in the workplace, it is important that tasks are assigned their correct value, so that less important topics do not take up an oversized place in the minds and priority lists of your team.
Decision-making is an essential element of all business, yet how much time and energy it takes up is something that can be adjusted. By empowering team members to make calls on their own or by reducing the layers of sign-off a decision has to go through, you will be adopting a minimalistic work strategy that can greatly reduce the resources expended on decision-making.
Step back from information saturation
In reports, creative briefs and general communication, there can be an unfortunate move towards giving too much information. This trend towards information saturation is only amplified by email and message alerts for threads you are included on but actually give you very little. For you and your whole team or department, a concerted effort to decrease this overload of less valuable information can dramatically improve productivity. This can come in many areas, such as cutting information down to the necessary facts and implementing a message priority system to avoid unnecessary alerts and distractions.
One of the best ways to implement a minimalistic work strategy that will apply across your entire team is to start using a cloud-based project management platform. Using Clarizen allows you to simplify and standardize communication and workflows, reducing wasted time and energy. Getting started is easy too, with our live demos answering any questions you may have about how to effectively integrate Clarizen for your team. Check them out here.