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Tidying Up in 2019

January 17, 2019

When I was deciding what to write about for my first blog post, I followed the advice we give students: Choose a topic that interests you. This guidance led me to my current favorite Netflix series, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”

Image: Pixabay

For anyone not familiar with Kondo’s KonMari method of organizing, this article from Newsweek is a good summary. Her 2012 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is likely a hold-shelf favorite at your local library.

The phenomenon is not just about organizing. The KonMari method focuses on sorting items by category and appreciating all of them — even the things that are heading out the door. Items that are kept should have value to you or “spark joy,” according to Kondo. For me, the idea of cherishing things that bring you joy is a strong message on its own.

As I watched the show, and browsed gleeful #konmari posts from coworkers, friends and acquaintances, I began to think about how this could be applied at work.

Although I’ve not seen anyone walk through the stacks tapping on books to “wake them up,” there are other examples in academic libraries. We redesign LibGuides and update them with useful, current content. We develop our collections, clean our work spaces, and revamp lesson plans. We switch out displays and rearrange furniture based on our patrons’ interests and current needs. The end results, in their own ways, spark joy.

This can also be applied to professional development, service, long-term projects and daily routines. Tasks like going through email, writing reports, creating manuals, and digging into meeting minutes can involve lots of “clutter” or messy, overwhelming details.

Unlike a home-tidying project, we can’t shred, recycle or donate tasks that we are obligated to finish. Instead, we can consider what we appreciate about them, or why the end result is meaningful or valuable.

A few colleagues were recently joking about having mindfulness practices ready for their multiple (truly, many) committee responsibilities. We laughed, but there’s truth in that. Pausing for a moment to remember the big picture can help us regain focus in our work and our homes.

What sparks joy? What is the goal? These are reminders I’ll be thinking of more in 2019, partly due to what I’ve learned from watching Marie Kondo in action. The process may not be neat, but the results are often worth it.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2019 2:00 am

    I also read that Marie Kondo suggests keeping no more than 30 books in your own personal collection. Thirty books??? The humanity! :)

    • Kelly Safin permalink
      January 23, 2019 2:34 pm

      I have read about that as well. Turns out 30 books is what she typically keeps in her own collection, and is not meant to be a “rule” for others.

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