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Marie Kondo’s new book wants you to rethink how you work (from home)

April 7, 2020, 11:00 AM UTC

There might be no one more prepared for the unpredictable intersection of spring cleaning and Netflix while self-isolating than Marie Kondo.

While it is a rough time for authors promoting books scheduled to be published this month, Kondo’s latest title, being released on April 7, might be too perfectly timed to be true. Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life (Little, Brown Spark) builds upon many of the lessons from Kondo’s previous books (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy)—such as eliminating clutter and mess—and asks the reader to further apply that mentality to the workplace.

But now, as many employees around the world are still working from home amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the workplace and the home are one and the same.

“No matter where you work, it’s important to create an environment that helps you focus,” Kondo says. “If you don’t have a home office, identify the items that are crucial to getting your work done and designate a clear spot for them—a box or portable carrier will do. When it’s time to work, move all unrelated items off your workspace and add one thing that sparks joy when you look at it.”

Kondo’s latest book, “Joy at Work,” means to inspire readers to overcome the challenges of workplace mess, resulting in productivity and success.
Courtesy of KonMari Media Inc.

Written in partnership with Scott Sonenshein, a professor at Rice University and an expert in organizational behavior, Joy at Work offers tips and tools for having a “joy-sparking” career, Kondo says. Tidying the workspace—as well as tasks, meetings, and email—could help readers to become more organized, achieve better results, and find joy on the job.

“When we ask ourself what sparks joy, we reconnect with our inner self and discover what’s really important to us,” Kondo says. “This approach can be applied to all aspects of life, from your home to your career.”

As a majority of the U.S. workforce is now working from home for the foreseeable future, Kondo says it’s more important than ever to establish and recognize which items and routines bring joy to the individual in the workplace—wherever that might be. Kondo says she keeps a small vase of fresh flowers on her desk. She also suggests doing something that marks the start of your workday. “I strike a tuning fork and diffuse essential oils to signal to my body that I’m switching gears.”

Coinciding with the book release, Kondo’s KonMari online boutique is adding a new product category for the office, filled with curated items for desk organization, accessories, tech tools, and more. Among the new offerings are a “workplace zen egg,” designed to calm the owner with a captivating wobble, intended to slow your frantic mind; a “digital tidying” box that gets all your tangled electronics cords into a line; a ceramic flower frog—touted to be “a florist’s secret weapon” by holding all of the stems of an arrangement in place; and a concrete desk set, comprising a pen and pencil holder, a tray for odds and ends, and a tape dispenser.

Keen on organization since her childhood, Kondo began her tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo.
Courtesy of KonMari Media Inc.

When the KonMari e-commerce shop launched last November, critics argued that the premise of the brand went against what Kondo preached in her books and subsequent Netflix series, which saw homemakers tossing and donating as many old knickknacks, books, clothes, and the like as they could live without.

But Kondo stresses that the KonMari line reflects her ethos that people should hold on to objects that they treasure, adding that such accessories at work could elevate performance and productivity, while making people feel like their best selves during this new work normal.

“This method has been associated with minimalism because most people discover while tidying that they’ve been living with items that don’t spark joy for them, and they suddenly feel empowered to let them go,” Kondo says. “If minimalism is a lifestyle that sparks joy for someone, that’s fine! Similarly, if having more items sparks joy, that’s fine too. Joy is personal.”

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