Joy At Work Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Joy At Work takes Marie Kondo’s famous tidying-up tips and applies it to your job to help you be happier in the physical areas, digital spaces, and uses of your time in the office.

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Joy At Work Summary

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My first job interview for a position after college was an interesting one. The person interviewing me, who would later become my boss, was a great person and I liked talking with him. 

I was surprised, however, at the massive pile of clutter on his desk. While I worked there he’d occasionally clear it off, but most of the time it was full of papers. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for the guy. And I understand how hard organizing can be. But there’s a lot to be said of how much joy it can bring when you become consistent at being tidy. And that’s just what Marie Kondo will teach you in Joy At Work: Organizing Your Professional Life

This book is a follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and will help you finally have an office space that you’re proud of and happy to spend time in!

Here are the 3 most interesting lessons I got from Marie Kondo in this one:

  1. An organized workspace makes your boss think more highly of you and helps you become more productive, profitable, and happy.
  2. To have a tidier office, start by looking at your books and papers and whether or not they spark joy or are useful.
  3. Declutter your digital life by organizing your desktop and email inbox.

Grab a trash can and let’s see what stuff of yours you don’t really need and how throwing it away can make you happier!

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Lesson 1: You will be more productive, profitable, and happy, and your boss will think more highly of you if you keep your workspace organized.

My old boss was constantly looking for papers and having to find other spaces to work when he needed to work on hard copies of plans. He always seemed pretty frazzled, running from one job to another. Again, I want to reiterate how awesome of a person he was and also how difficult I know staying organized can be.

Although he’s not a terrible person for having a messy desk, the data does show that it’s not good. One survey in 2011 identified that 90% of Americans identify clutter as a source of decreased happiness, productivity, and motivation. 

And if that’s not enough to convince you, think about all the lost productivity from the added up hours of looking for important documents or supplies. Estimates put the total time lost from this searching for stuff at about an entire work week each year! That’s not just hours, either, it adds up to roughly $89 billion in lost profits. 

In other words, you’re going to be happier, more productive, and more profitable if you’ll learn how to clean up your workspace!

It’s also one great way to impress your boss. Management generally thinks more highly of people that keep their workspace neat. This has the power to make you even more productive, creating a positive loop of success.

All these reasons are good, but if you tidy up because someone tells you to, it’s not going to stick. You need to recognize that a clean workspace has the power to be a place that is where your goals and dreams become reality.

Lesson 2: First, look at each of your books and papers and keep them only if they spark joy or are useful.

Alright, now that you’ve got the motivation it’s time to get in and get your hands dirty. Or wait, I mean, clean!

This process involves getting rid of things that don’t fit into at least one of these three divisions:

  • Immediate Joy
  • Functional Joy
  • Future Joy

If you find items in your workplace that you can’t say they give you any of these three, then get rid of them. This is the heart of the KonMari Method, and you can apply it to anything and everything in your office, digital or physical. 

We’re going to get into the specifics of what to look at, but first, you need to start with a vision of what your ideal workspace looks like. Ask yourself what you’d like to see in such a place and how it makes you feel. Visualize what’s in it, where everything goes, and the emotions you have while at your desk. 

Now to begin, grab all the books in your workspace and put them in front of you. One by one, pick each of them up and ask “Does this spark joy?” Also, identify whether or not you feel happier knowing that it’s there. Throw out whatever doesn’t bring joy.

Paperwork is a little different, but you can sort it by looking at three categories:

  • Pending, or what you’re working on consistently.
  • Requirement, which refers to what you have to keep to do your job.
  • Desire, or those items that help you be productive.

Lesson 3: Your email inbox and desktop are two places to start to get digitally organized.

Moving to your computer spaces, we’ll start with the first thing you see on your computer-the desktop. It’s got a lot of potential for joy, but most of us end up using it as a dumpster for computer files.

At one point, Scott Sonenshein, the co-author, couldn’t even read the file names his desktop because it was so messy.

To start, create folders for “Storage” and “Current” on your desktop. All old files can go into “Storage,” and whatever files you need for projects that are happening right now can go into “Current.” Then, set a wallpaper that inspires you. 

Next comes email. The trick here is to treat as a place for current projects, not storage. Create 10 or fewer folders to organize yourself. If it’s hard to sort through everything now, throw all existing emails into an archive folder to tidy up later.

Also, set office hours for responding. I turn on do not disturb on my phone from 7 am to noon every day and it significantly boosts my productivity.

Joy At Work Review

I love that the focus of Joy At Work is happiness and not just tidying for the sake of it. It really is true, I’ve found, that when our workplaces are neat and somewhere that we enjoy being, work goes much better!

Who would I recommend the Joy At Work summary to?

The 47-year-old office worker who always has a messy desk and is tired of it, the 29-year-old that hates going to work, and anyone who wants to be happier at work.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.