It’s easy to get so caught up in our to-do lists that we lack the time to think about the big picture, solve hard problems, or just reflect on the work we are doing. We are constantly moving at a million miles a minute and that constant go-go-go is not beneficial to us. So I was inspired by Marie Kondo as I thought about how to change up my daily routine to allow more time and space for reflection and what brings me joy.
Mario Kondo’ing your work-life means maximizing the time spent on the things that bring you joy. Now I know what you are thinking…not everyone has the luxury of working for themselves and having full control over their work. For those of you working full-time or just feeling overwhelmed, you can still apply this principle to your work life.
First, it’s about carving out a portion of your day for quiet time. There’s a portion of our brain called the DMN where we daydream and imagine possibilities . That part of the brain is also what allows us to solve an impossible problem and ideate. When we are constantly jumping from one task to another, our brain can feel cloudy and it can be challenging to think strategically or innovatively. Bringing in intentional quiet time is important, whether the hour in the morning while you get ready, carving out 30 min or an hour for lunch, or taking some time at the end of the day between work and family time.
Another opportunity is to pay more attention to your current work and reflect on what is working for you. Have you ever taken a moment to step back and ask yourself which parts of your current (or even past) roles have brought you joy? This is a really powerful exercise. At a prior company, I was asked to take on new responsibilities when a direct report left. Part of those responsibilities included leading training. Initially, I thought about how much I did not want to have to take on even more responsibility. However, when I started engaging in the work I experienced a lot of joy from interacting with people in a learning environment and being a trainer. I realized not only did it actually bring me joy in the current work but that it also brought me joy 5 years earlier at a prior job. I had forgotten about that past experience or at least didn’t deem it as relevant or important. Now, I had two pieces of data that told me something about what interested me.
With that newfound knowledge, I looked to see if there was an opportunity at my current company to lean into that passion and take on more of that responsibility in my current role. In the short term, I started expanding my role around owning and developing training so I would feel more content about my work. In the long run, I decided it was best for me to leave the company and pursue a new challenge and adventure so I could focus on a few different rediscovered strengths and passions. At a minimum, this can mean having a conversation with your boss to tell them the areas you are interested in and ask them to be on the lookout for opportunities that can be sent your way. If you don’t flag this interest to your boss they will have no idea this is an interest for you.
One of my former direct reports and I examined what work brought him joy and he expressed an interest in data analytics. As a result of that conversation, I looked for opportunities in our team’s projects to send work like that his way. Additionally, I used our 1:1 meetings to help him think through ways he could pursue more knowledge in that area through talking to people on our internal Data team and looking at external training courses to further accelerate his skills. As a manager, examining what brought my direct report joy actually brought me joy too because the skills he was looking to develop were skills I was looking to do less. As a result, this exercise helped support both of our goals.
So how do you Marie Kondo your work life? Here are some questions to get you started:
- When was the last time an activity at work made you feel energized in the moment?
- What type of work do you prioritize doing ahead of everything else?
- When was the last time you looked forward to a work project?
- When was the last time you felt like you were in a state of flow while working? What were you working on?
- What was the last project you really wished you were able to work on?
Which questions resonated with you? What is one small step you can take to increase your time spent on those areas that bring you joy?
For more insights, articles, and knowledge check out “Inside the Mind of Jess Wass”.
Originally published at https://www.jesswass.com on October 27, 2020.