How to Spark Joy in Your Career (Marie Kondo Style)
Minimalism is the newest organizational trend to pop up, and leading the way is Marie Kondo, author of the New York Time’s #1 Best Seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and inspiration behind the Netflix original show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. Even if you haven’t read her book or succumbed to binge-watching her minimalistic magic in action, chances are that you have heard talk of her and her famous question—“Does this spark joy?”
This may seem like a silly exercise, but bear with me. Take a moment to sit down, close your eyes and ask yourself if your career truly sparks joy. Chances are that even if you like your job, somewhere along your career path you lost some of the joy and excitement that you started with. Rather than letting this lack of joy make you jaded in you career, you can use Marie Kondo’s methods as inspiration to declutter and create space for what will result in true job satisfaction.
One area that can be a source of stress, and take away from your joy at work, is having a cluttered workspace. While Marie Kondo would likely suggest taking everything from your workspace, dumping it all on top of your desk, holding each item and determining if it sparks joy or not, there is a way to streamline this process (sorry Marie). Start with the top of your desk and remove anything that is not essential to the task at hand. Next, make space for all necessary paperwork and files that is easily accessible and visible. This may mean simply organizing your file drawer into three areas: what you need now, what is pending, and what you need to keep forever. Once you have neatly filed your papers into these three categories, you are free to shred the rest. Imagine coming into work every morning knowing that your desk is clear and clutter free—the thought alone makes me feel more relaxed.
Marie is infamous for encouraging her followers to discard the nonessentials that are cluttering their homes, taking up space and not bringing them joy. The same thought process can be applied to the nonessential projects that clutter our schedule, take up time and cause us unnecessary stress. Often times when we are asked to help out on a project or take on a new responsibility, our answer is “yes”. Unfortunately, being too willing to help others can detract from our own workload, causing us stress due to decreased productivity and squashing our joy in the process. While you can’t flake on current projects and responsibilities, start to take back your joy by saying “no” to anything that is not an essential facet of your job. Sure, there will be times that taking on an extra project will bring you happiness, and demonstrating your ability to take on more responsibility will help you to earn that promotion; however, it is important to remember that taking on too many extras could be why your job no longer sparks joy.
When it comes down to it, being intentional is the root of what the KonMari Method focuses on. As such, you can bring that spark of joy back into your career by being intentional with what you are doing, and how you are spending your time. While you are at work, have goals and keep them in mind as you conduct your work. Complete even the most mundane task with the intention of becoming better in your field. Being intentional may also mean using your time wisely by putting your phone away, staying off of social media during work hours, and avoiding that gossiping coworker who always manages to find their way to your desk.
Last, Marie puts a large emphasis on expressing gratitude. I will admit that throughout the Kondo-ing of my home, I did not thank the objects that I was discarding as she suggested, even though I do see the value in being grateful for what I have and how it has served me. Take a page out of Marie Kondo’s book (literally and figuratively) and take a moment to be thankful for your career. Everything from the ups, downs, stresses and successes have led you to the point you are at now. Take a moment to be thankful for each and every opportunity. You may be surprised at how the simple act of expressing gratitude can spark joy.