I laughed out loud recently when scrolling through social media, coming upon a post entitled, “Marie Kondo admits she’s ‘kind of given up’ on tidying up after having 3 kids.” This particularly stood out to me, not just as a working mom, but because I had just finished reading Marie Kondo’s recent book, co-written by Scott Sonenshein, entitled Joy at Work. This book had been gifted to me by a good friend declaring my title as a “queen of organization” as the reason for the present. It particularly struck me that this superlative was bestowed upon me after arriving unfashionably late to our lunch due to trying to juggle too much and failing. As I began the new year, I dove into Marie’s book to learn how the tidying philosophy could help overcome such habits of over-commitment at work and at home.
For those unfamiliar with Marie’s basic tidying advice, she suggests that when tidying items, one should only keep those that spark joy. Could this be true at work too? Could this apply to professional tasks and ideas the same way it applied to tangible objects? The answer seems to be yes and no. While there is of course work (and work documents) that need to be kept despite not sparking joy, we do ourselves a disservice assuming that this is always the case. I was encouraged by the idea of looking for the sparks of joy in my workspace and in my work mindshare. It reminds me of one of my favorite stay interview questions I ask my employees, “what makes for a great day at work?”. Now I can add into these conversations, “what in your workday sparks joy?”
My favorite takeaway from the book was the twelve statement assessment to identify your joy sparkers. From this list, here are some of the things that spark joy for me at work:
Perhaps this is why I was drawn to another book, this one by Daniel Pink, entitled Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. If you haven’t watched this 10 minute video describing his theory, do yourself a favor and go watch it now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc. The cliff notes version is we are all motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose in our jobs. I hope that Daniel and Marie get together on their next book and provide us all with a fool proof method to tidy up and push out micromanagement, self-doubt, and meaningless tasks – and perhaps one day I can get crowned as the queen of joyful work!