Does your job ‘spark joy’?

Applying the popular KonMari method to your career, workspace, resume, and online presence could be the key to unlocking happiness at work.

Marie Kondo’s “KonMari” method is all the rage in homes and closets, but some workers are now bringing it to the office. It may be time to ask yourself, “Does this job spark joy?”

A recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps revealed workers are disengaged at their jobs more than one-quarter (26 percent) of the time, on average, which begs the following question: Just how happy are employees with their careers?

With International Day of Happiness right around the corner on March 20, IB spoke with Sasha Truckenbrod, branch manager of Robert Half in Madison, about how you can tell if your job is bringing you joy, and what you should do if it isn’t.

Research by Robert Half revealed that most professionals are generally happy, with the following cited as the top three drivers of workplace happiness:

  • Having pride in one’s organization;
  • Feeling appreciated; and
  • Being treated with fairness and respect.

“Feeling joy at work doesn’t mean every day is perfect or fun,” says Truckenbrod. “It’s feeling a deep sense of connection to your work, using your skills, and understanding how your work helps you achieve your overall goals.

“When you ask yourself if your job sparks joy, you’re really asking yourself about your own professional values. As you think about your work life in this way, you get in the mindset of assessing what your job brings to you and what you bring to it, which can make you a better employee.”

Some tips for assessing whether your job sparks joy:

  • Pay attention to your feelings about your job. The KonMari method encourages you to notice your environment and be honest with yourself about it. Awareness of these feelings is crucial to finding and keeping a fulfilling career. Asking yourself, for instance, “Why don’t I like this particular assignment?” can push you toward finding a way to do more of what brings you joy. While it’s not likely you can get rid of the negative tasks, there is an opportunity to try to focus more on the tasks you enjoy. How can you regularly participate in similar projects? Make sure to express your professional interests to your supervisor. Also, with regard to our research findings, it’s worth asking yourself if you experience those three key drivers of workplace happiness. Do you feel proud of your organization? Do you feel appreciated and treated with fairness and respect?
  • Reassess what “joy” means to you at the office. Sparking joy isn’t as easy when you’re looking at a stapler or expense report. Take a step back and think about how you feel when you’re using that item or completing a certain task. Think about how it helps you get the job done better or helps you achieve your goals. Think about what you like to do outside of work and note the parallels in your job — and then embrace them.
  • Ask yourself, “Why do I want a change?”
    • For example: Do you no longer find your position fulfilling?
    • Do you feel underpaid?
    • Are you frustrated by a lack of professional development opportunities or haven’t been able to advance?
    • Do you not like the organizational culture?
    • Are you seeking better work-life balance? 
  • If you find that your job might not spark much joy for you:
    • Be proactive and pinpoint the cause. Is it one project or situation, or a consistent pattern of factors causing an ongoing feeling of being stuck and not in the right setting? Handling temporary or situational dissatisfaction is different than dealing with long-term unhappiness.
    • Speak up and ask for what you need — time off, more support, work-life balance options, additional training, etc.
    • Get support from family and friends to make sure you have balance in your life outside of work.

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Truckenbrod also offers the following KonMari-inspired tips for tidying up your workspace, inbox, resume, online presence, and job search:

  • Express sincere gratitude toward your workspace. It sounds silly, but your desk has actually done a lot for you. It’s been a place where you’ve accomplished so much — it’s where you nailed the big account, earned your promotion, upsold your largest client, or launched your business.
  • Have a vision in mind with actionable goals. At work, that may mean creating a cleaner space for you to focus on the projects that matter to you. Your intention should be to keep only the items you believe will help you achieve this goal.
  • Tackle your email, desktop, and files. Look at your messages and files with the following three filters: what you need now, what’s pending —aka, what you’re waiting for some answers on — and what you need to keep forever. Everything that doesn’t fall into those three “to keep” categories, it’s up to you as to how you toss them. You can delete or trash them, or if they’re digital, archive them so they’re out of the way. Just make sure you follow your company’s guidelines on how to properly dispose of and store files.

Applying the KonMari method to your job search can also help declutter the process:

  • Tidy up your online profiles. Take a moment to Google yourself and see what pops up. Does your online presence communicate the brand you want? If not, take steps to change that. Your social media presence is a powerful marketing tool when properly cultivated. Use concise, punchy language to convey an image of who you are as a professional without resorting to lengthy blocks of content. Make sure to update your profiles regularly.
  • Organize your resume. Your resume should be brief and engaging. Discard extraneous language and details such as starter jobs, where you went to high school, and personal activities. Sort your resume in a way that highlights the skills and experience that fit the jobs you’re applying for. A cluttered resume will end up in the “no” pile.
  • Clean up your cover letter. Your cover letter should not be a rehash of your resume — it’s an opportunity to tell people who you are. Get rid of trite phrases, overused platitudes, and confusing jargon. Explain why you’re passionate about your career, obstacles you’ve overcome, and what you believe you can contribute to the organization.
  • Spark joy in the job interview. Prepare a few professional stories about how you overcame a challenge or achieved a certain goal. The interview is not only a chance for you to present yourself and what you can do, it’s also an opportunity to get a sense of the work environment, opportunities, and expectations. Trust your instincts during this process.

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