Does Your Job Still Spark Joy? Applying the KonMari Method to Your Career

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

When Mari Kondo and her tidying principles took the internet by storm, many started thinking about applying the KonMari Method to almost every aspect of their lives. Clutter, after all, can be literal and figurative; and like the families featured in Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” we have the power to get rid of them.

In a recent survey, 95% of more than 700 Filipino respondents said they “love their jobs.” They considered many factors: workplace gender equality, opportunities for promotion, pay appraisals, leave benefits, and more.

Are you one of these happy people? If you feel like you can still grow to love your job, applying the KonMari Method to your career might help.

Below are practical steps on how you can KonMari your career:

Tidy Up

Got all these stowed away in your desk? Feel free to keep them around—but only if they spark joy!
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I recommend starting with doing something tangible. It’s encouraging when you get visible results for your efforts.

Start by observing your desk or cubicle. Think back on what it looked like on your first day, and whether you were more productive then than you are right now. You may not realize it, but your disorganized workspace might be adding to your stress levels every day.

So clean things up. Follow the KonMari Method of emptying your drawers and categorizing your things before weeding out the things you don’t like or need.

Out of your ten pens, how many do you actually use? The seminar and training notes tucked between the wall and your CPU, do you even read them? Anything that’s outlasted their use or appeal, throw them out or give them away. It may seem like a waste at first, but you probably won’t even think of them before the week is over.

By maintaining a tidy desk, you’re preventing your brain from imitating what your eyes see.

Visualize

Form an image of your goals, even if only for the day, in your mind.
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A clean desk isn’t a prerequisite for having a clear mindset, but it definitely helps — particularly when you’re visualizing your career.

It sounds a bit pretentious — visualize your career — but at the very least, it calls you to be aware of your career as it is now and how it can be in the future. Some people, for example, don’t want to be stuck in the same job for five years because of the lack of avenues for promotions or career progression.

The KonMari Method invites people to imagine what they want their space to look like. It’s the goal for which they need to work on. Applying this to your career, your vision of what you’ll be doing several months or years down the road can keep you from stagnating or straying from your dream job.

So how do you visualize? Start small, like visualizing your accomplishments for the day. Write a checklist or imagine the place you want to be at after finishing your work. Visualize daily accomplishments while keeping at the back of your mind the bigger picture of what you want to achieve career-wise.

Find Joy in Your Work

What truly sparks joy when you’re at work?
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Many laughed when they first watched Marie Kondo telling clients to think: “Does this [item] spark joy?” Having watched several episodes of the KonMari series, it became clear that the question soon became very personal to every person who followed the tidying method.

But that didn’t stop the jokes and memes about throwing away anything in the workplace that doesn’t spark joy — including slave-driver bosses, lazy co-workers, water cooler gossip-mongers, and awful-tasting coffee.

As employees, we have a lot to think about when applying this stage of the KonMari Method to our careers. Think about:

  • The hours you spend commuting to work
  • The person or company you’re working for
  • The people you’re working with
  • The work you do
  • Your compensation
  • Your accomplishments and career milestones

Do they spark joy in you? Do you feel fulfilled? Are the rewards worth the challenges and sacrifices you need to make?

This stage calls for self-reflection.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t about finding reasons to resign from your job (although if your thoughts immediately went there, it’s telling what your true sentiments are about your work). You might even discover that your job does fulfill you and that it’s something you’ll want to keep doing for a long time.

Be Thankful and Respectful

Gratitude and respect — the world could do with more of these.
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There are two things about the KonMari Method that struck me since the first time I’ve seen the show. One is when Marie “greets” a house, and the other is when she tells her clients to “thank” their things before letting them go.

These rituals are about expressing gratitude and showing respect. In connection to work life, I believe showing appreciation and respect breeds positivity, which can radiate back to us.

The application of gratitude and respect to one’s career is not about showering your superiors with obsequious flattery, nor does it only apply to the things you’re throwing out. Rather, it’s appreciating the good things about your job by respecting the objects and people that represent it.

There are many actionable ways to express these sentiments:

  • Respect your office or building by avoiding and discouraging vandalism
  • Don’t be wasteful, especially with food or supplies your employer gives for free
  • Follow your energy- and resource-saving SOPs
  • Stop the spread of malicious gossip

The KonMari Method has changed so many lives and helped people live better. It means to tackle tangible and visible problems (clutter, disorganization), but their effects go beyond what you can see and touch.

Tidying up is personal; and when you apply these principles to your career, you’ll succeed in discarding things, habits, beliefs, and even relationships that keep you from achieving your career goals.

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