Takeaways From (Not) Reading JOY AT WORK

Usually when I share insights from a book, it’s one I’ve read. But you know how sometimes the stack of books on the night stand gets too high? Well that has been me lately. Lucky for me, I have a friend who shared some pretty useful insights with me from her reading time. Even just her highlight reel turned into easy, useful things that are helping me have a more joyful work life during the crush of the holiday season.

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So, the book I have (not) read this month is Joy at Work, by Marie Kondo (you may have heard of her other books The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy) and Scott Sonenshein (author of Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less -and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined).

In it, the authors try to help us bring that happy simplicity and clear-desk / tidy-drawer feeling to the clutter and scurry of our work lives.

Sounds good right?

So if you’re like me and haven’t had the time to get all the way through it, just borrow these quick insights for a quick leg up.

3 Tips to Energize Your Work:

  1. Declutter + Happify Your Desktop: You may not have hours to spend tidying old folders and overhauling your entire digital filing system. But I bet you could clean up your desktop in a few minutes. Delete the trash files that are only there because you needed to print them. Drag all the shortcuts you don’t use into a folder and name it something that makes you smile. And set a background photo that inspires you or has great meaning. (You can get fancy and make a slideshow vision board as your background, or simply set it to your latest family photo or travel pic.) We often discount the level of energy drain we’re experiencing because of digital clutter. Let your digital desk be clear, and see if it lifts your spirits.
  2. Pause Before Yes + Graciously Decline: Over-commitment is a frequent cause of overwhelm at work and home. We often delay saying no, or say yes too quickly – both of which result in mental clutter of unmade decisions and hard-to-keep commitments. So start practicing the pause before yes. This means smiling, taking a breath, and letting yourself think about an opportunity before committing. If yes is the right choice, then you can say it with more certainty and sincerity. But the flip side is (to me) even more powerful. This “graciously decline” rule means not delaying in sending back my “no” to invitations that I cannot accept. This goes for work that I will not be able to take on, or tasks that colleagues might want to shift to my plate. Be gracious (note to self), but go ahead an decline, instead of letting it hang over you. Both you and the other person will benefit from no longer having it up-in-the-air.
  3. Have Fewer Folders (Shoot for 10 Maximum): This was something my friend was particularly excited about: The no-more-than-10-email-folders rule. Apparently there’s been some research that shows that managing too many folders leads to a lack of clarity over where things are, and you lose time searching. It also is likely to lead to you NOT put things in folders because you’re not really sure which one it belongs in. Which makes the slush of random files pile up quite quickly until being “tidy” starts to sound like something “other people” do. As someone who has suffered from over-foldering like a boss, I think knowing that simpler is better will allow me to stop trying to make a massive file system work.

So, overall, simplifying is a pathway to joy. And sometimes joy is a pathway to simplifying. Like wanting to be able to see your family’s faces on your background, helping you keep your desktop tidy. And like remembering what you WANT to be working on.

I think the biggest thing I’m taking away from my friend’s enthusiasm about this book is that work really is supposed to energize and inspire us. I know I don’t feel like that all the time, but when I lift my head up and think about it, I take great pleasure and healthy pride in being able to do a good job in my work. To run things well, to help people, and to see growth in my business for all the stakeholders involved. I’m going to let that idea sink in a little.

Let me know if you have insights of how to do that too. If we keep learning from each other, we’ll just keep getting better.

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