Kondo your ROT

Too much stuff!

We live in an age of excess where our desires for stuff and simplicity are at constant war with each other. We both consume, and produce in excess. We can’t seem to stop ourselves, whether it’s binge-watching streamed television, fast fashion, or hashtags.

Love it or hate it, much column space has been given to discussion of Kondo’s Netflix show “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.  From angry flame out wars over the immorality of destroying books, to the Millennial blaming accusations of curatorial-consumerism, Marie Kondo is the home organisation consultant everyone is talking about.

Like the best-selling book of the same title “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is basically about teaching people how to get rid of all their stuff. To do this, all contents are gathered together and reviewed by type: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental. All objects of the same type are gathered in a giant pile.

Look at all my socks
Oh so many many socks
I can’t even believe it
Can you imagine having so many socks?
I can’t even begin to count them all
Let alone even think about wearing them

– King Missile  1994

Once confronted with the enormity of stuff by type, most participants decide that the madness must end and a purge is necessary. Then each object is interrogated – supposedly by hugging – to ascertain whether they “spark joy”. If they do not, they are respectfully thanked for serving their purpose and cast aside.

Whether it’s information or socks, it’s the same idea with systems and file shares. Admittedly you might not feel joy from communing intimately with the items within your system. But the general idea that you need to discard things that have long since served their purpose to begin organising things still applies.

Redundant. Obsolete. Trivial.

Dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.
– Ghostbusters, 1984

If you are working with a messy, bloated system where categories are blurred, a ROT analysis can help to sort through what needs to be kept and how things should be organised. So what is ROT?


Redundant information often involves duplication. Duplication of documents and folders is common when folder structures have not been centrally managed. There may also be multiple versions of documents with minor variations that are no longer needed.


Some information you hold will inevitable be out of date, whether this is because it relates to a business activity you  no longer undertake, because it has been superseded or is incomplete. Obsolete data may include technical guides for products and services no longer offered, past procedure manuals or old contacts lists that have not been kept up to date.


Trivial material will be of very low level value to the organisation. While this data might be valuable to one individual for a very short period of time, they do not provide much in terms of business insight or compliance evidence. Examples of records of trivial value are meeting room bookings or personal daily to do lists.

From watching “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” you get the sense the Kondo method is labour intensive. This is true also of a ROT analysis. There are tools that can help you along the way, but ultimately you will not be able to escape having to make decisions about what to keep and where. And if you want to  prevent ROT from building up again, it is best to have a plan for how to manage information going forward.

More Information Governance; less Kondo

Everything. In its right place.
-Radiohead, 2000

An Information Governance approach to your information is the best way to  keep it well organised. This means more than just a good file plan, classification and retention schedule. Technological tools can aid you in keeping things tidy, but ultimately you are relying on people to do the right thing. Change management, training and support coupled with regular monitoring and reporting will help keep things on track.

If you want to  know more about how to conduct a ROT analysis, what tools can be used to conduct a ROT analysis, or how to set up an Information Governance programme, get in touch with us.

Metataxis has years of experience as information organisation consultants, pragmatic about coming up with scalable solutions that suit your requirements, and we won’t make you ‘hug’ your information – unless that’s what you want.