Spirituality and Common Sense
Joy at Work

Spirituality and Common Sense

World-renowned tidying-up specialist Marie Kondo offers advice for transforming your office and, as always, your life.

In 2019, Marie Kondo, best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, stared in Netflix’s popular TV series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In this follow-up – adapted by Netflix as Sparking Joy – Kondo turns her attention from personal spaces to cluttered professional environments. Famously, Kondo regards tidying up as a powerful tool for self-reflection and discovery. She offers guidance for changing your work space into a sanctuary that, she promises, will spark joy.

It’s difficult to argue with or be cynical about Marie Kondo. First, the insane scale of her success makes it clear that millions of people value her insights. Second, even if you don’t fully buy into her ideas about caressing every object and reading its vibe, and follow only the basics of her advice, you will organize your work space and attitude toward work in ways that maximize your comfort and productivity. Will you experience joy? Possibly. Kondo’s true believers certainly claim to feel it.

When you face each item you possess, one by one, and ask yourself if it sparks you 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.Marie Kondo

Given that Kondo readers love to read more Kondo, and that no competitors have appeared who match her combination of clean, spare prose, rigor and sprite optimism, the most reliable ancillary readings are Kondo’s own The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.


Messy workstations have a negative effect on your mood and performance. Kondo reveals that clutter increases levels of cortisol – a stress hormone that boosts your susceptibility to health disorders such as depression, heart disease and insomnia. She further argues – though it’s not easy to accept her figures – that employees lose an average of one workweek each year searching for misplaced items, which translates into $89 billion in lost productivity per year in the United States. You may find it difficult to resist the reflexive voice within that cries out: “I work better around clutter! It’s a mark of my genius.” Even if you believe that, you might still try a couple of Kondo’s suggestions and see how you feel.

Tidying is much more than sorting things and putting them away. It’s a major project that will change your life forever.Marie Kondo

Kondo discloses that people associate those with tidy work spaces with ambition, confidence and intelligence, and that bosses are more likely to promote tidy workers. Perhaps. She also holds that the tidying process clarifies your values and dreams as you decide what brings you joy, which items you feel ready to discard and which areas of your life you’d like to transform. It may be best not to dwell on those promises and simply tidy as per her guidance.

The KonMari Method

Kondo states that it requires about 10 hours to tidy a cubicle, and three to five hours to tidy a desk using her KonMari method. Kondo reports that most of her clients go to their offices two hours before their workdays begin and tidy up in three two-hour sessions. That seems like a lot of extra effort, but Kondo is adamant that the rewards make the labor worthwhile.

Sorting Items

Choose which areas of your space you want to tidy first. At home, Kondo urges tidying work-related – not personal – items in the following order: books, papers, miscellaneous items – sort by subcategories such as office supplies, personal care items and electrical items – and anything with sentimental value. As in all her books, Kondo says to focus on one category at a time. For example, she advises gathering all your pens, and deciding which to keep.


If Kondo’s more spiritual advice does not resonate with you, don’t worry. Her common sense is profound and instantly actionable: Prioritize tasks by urgency, she suggests. Never multitask. Delete smartphone apps that don’t spark joy or help you do your job. Her final advice in this realm sounds dreamy, but may be hard to embrace in real life; nevertheless, Kondo is adamant: Only take on tasks that bring you joy.

Remember, you’re the boss of your technology. Let technology advance your work life and help you see more clearly how your work can be a source of joy.Marie Kondo

Kondo argues convincingly that perfectionism wastes time. At first, this claim may seem at odds with her urging to keep, for example, only the most perfect pen. But her point is that you face more than 35,000 decisions daily. She wants you to avoid letting choices overwhelm you. Make a decision, and live with it.

Social Connections

Kondo aligns with research when she relates that more time on social media correlates with reduced happiness. She wants you to consider which connections bring you joy, are job requirements, or help you reach your long-term work and life goals. With her usual ruthlessness, she tells you to delete all others.


Kondo, like many other self-help authors, suggests that you cultivate an ethos of care, respect and gratitude. She believes tidying up and adopting a positive mind-set can change your outlook. She sensibly recommends setting aside an hour every couple of weeks to reflect on your achievements and how you might improve. Again echoing many current authors, she maintains that your workday is the result of your choices. Straining credulity slightly, Kondo insists that embracing the power of tidying up can steer you toward your ideal life.

Practical Wisdom

Angela Duckworth, best-selling author of Grit, encapsulates Kondo nicely when she writes that this book is, “A tidy guide to finding joy at work. Full of psychological wisdom and practical tips!” You’ll notice Duckworth did not mention Kondo changing your life and granting you enlightenment. Kondo’s specialty is tips and wisdom, and she supplies both unfailingly, with great charm and greater readability. It’s such a pleasure to read Kondo’s prose that you might well enjoy delving into her advice without the slightest intention of ever choosing your favorite pen. Her obvious kindness and admirable work ethic might even bring you joy.

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