Joy at Work: Book Review

You’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo and her famous book — “The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. This is actually the book that I set out to read, when I accidentally stumbled upon another book of hers, “Joy at Work”. 

Over the last year, I’ve made quite a career change as I’ve shifted from full-time nurse, to part-time freelancer. As I’ve transitioned into the world of being self-employed; I’ve realized the importance of organization. I am in charge of paying my own taxes, setting up my own retirement plan, signing up for my own health insurance — to name a few responsibilities. So, when I came across this book and read the tagline “Organizing Your Professional Life” I knew it was a must-read for me. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

Tidying allows for more mental clarity

Kondo’s concept of only keeping items that “spark joy” is a powerful concept for anyone. But in the context of work (especially if you’re in the creative space), it’s actually pretty vital. By being physically organized, our minds are clearer and we can focus more on our creative work. This can help spark inspiration and keep the creative ideas flowing. 

“Tidying up allows you to rediscover your own self. When you face each item you possess, one by one, and ask yourself if it sparks joy or if it will contribute to a joyful future, you begin to see quite clearly what you really want and what makes you happy. By the time you have finished tidying, your mindset, your behavior, and the choices you make have changed.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Clearing agenda clutter

There’s much more to tidying than just cleaning up your home. Kondo discusses the importance of being mindful about your social obligations and learning to stop saying yes to everyone. She tells the story of a client who was overwhelmed with social obligations and work and wasn’t happy at all with how all of her time was being spent. She was completely wearing herself out, on activities that didn’t even spark any joy in her life. 

“In order to spend time in ways to achieve her ideal work life, Christina stopped automatically saying yes and defaulted to saying no, making exceptions only for activities that mattered most. ‘I realized that much of that crazy scheduling was because I was adding things that made me happy to make up for all of the things that didn’t make me happy, rather than addressing the things that didn’t make me happy,’ she concluded.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

There’s more to success than making the most money

Sure, money is great, but what is the price you’re paying for that big paycheck? Does it feel worth it? I was recently asked by someone, “How long did it take for your paychecks as a nurse to feel worth it?” I was at a loss for words momentarily, because the answer was, never. Although I was earning tons of money, that money never once felt worth it. Kondo drives this point home by explaining how we as humans are hardwired to be competitive and try to earn the most. However, many of us are sacrificing our whole lives to keep chasing these paychecks that never truly pay off. This is why it’s so important to focus on more than just the money.

“Don’t trade an activity you’d love to pursue for a reward you don’t value. Being mindful and aware of what we truly want and who we truly are can protect us from falling into this trap of chasing the wrong goals that we’ll later regret.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Downtime is a necessary part of productivity

That’s right, working round-the-clock and never taking a moment off may hinder you more than help you. Obviously, hustling and continuing to show up for your dream is important and I’m not saying to not do that. What I’m saying is that you have to have some time off and recognize when you need a break. 

“It sounds counterintuitive, but to be more productive at work, sometimes you need downtime – a part of your calendar that’s a completely clean space. Yes, you heard me right: Research shows that to get more done, you sometimes need to work less. In addition to refreshing your mind, downtime helps you become more creative by incubating you rideas.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Don’t waste your energy obsessing over small decisions. When it comes to little things, just pick a side and stick with it. This reserves more energy for bigger decisions. 

“Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs automated his wardrobe – he wore the same type of turtleneck each day. Productivity guru and author Tim Ferriss eats the same breakfast every morning. By not sweating the small decisions, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on the more important ones.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Letting go with gratitude

One of my favorite points from this book is the concept of letting go with gratitude. Kondo reminds readers that when parting ways with an item, task, or old job, it is so important to say thank you for everything you learned and all of the benefits it brought to you. 

“So when you decide not to keep something, focus on the good it brought you and let it go with gratitude for the connection you had with it. The positive energy you direct at that item will attract new and joyful encounters. The same principle applies when considering a job change. Think of your job positively, with gratitude, recognizing that although it may have been hard, it taught you such things as the importance of keeping a certain distance in your relationships, or that it was thanks to this experience that you could find the work style that’s best for you. This kind of attitude will lead you to the job that is just right for the next stage in your life.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

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