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Work-Life Balance: Can Tidying Help With Balance?
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Work-Life Balance: Can Tidying Help With Balance? - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Can Tidying Help With Balance?

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Can Tidying Help With Balance?

For the past year and a half, it has been impossible to avoid Marie Kondo or her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Books about organizing, decluttering, tidying, and discarding have always been around, but something about Kondo’s book seems to have struck a nerve (positively and negatively) with the Pinterest crowd, with chronic organizers, and with the five-day-a-week bus commuters. Everywhere you look, someone is reading it, talking about it, or passing it along to someone who needs a little bit of that life-changing magic.

Whether or not you’re part of that crowd, there are some intriguing ideas in Kondo’s approach, for her creed centers around two big issues: living joyfully and understanding how our relationship with our possessions affects the rest of our lives. “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life,” she writes, and the “how” she espouses in this sentence is “joyfully.”

When we get down to its essence, work-life balance is about managing our limited resources among portions of our lives that will take as many of them as they can. Time, energy, mental capacity, and space must be meted out according to importance and urgency, a seemingly never-ending juggling act of redistribution and reconsideration. The smaller things, like soccer practices and keeping the car running, are pretty easy, but the bigger things, like our career trajectory and family planning, require certain mindsets over extended periods of serious time. Kondo stresses the importance of how these other aspects of our lives are affected by the spaces we live in, and by the energy we expend on managing them.

“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go,” she writes, “there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” Neither of these habits of thought has anything to do with living in the present, and living in the present is the basis for experiencing joy. This is not to say that we discard the past, but we hold it within the framework of living joyfully today, and if we’re living joyfully today, the question of balance is almost irrelevant, because joy is also the goal of balance. Balance itself was never the end: it was always about finding balance so we could experience the joy we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

Will tidying and decluttering help with our work-life balance? On a practical level, it almost has to help, the way all of our processes and decision-making at the office are helped by an organized calendar, a tidy desk space where the stuff you need is easily accessed, and an efficient team. On a bigger scale, where our values, priorities, and hopes live, it could be “magic” or “life-changing.” People who have gone through Kondo’s KonMari process for tidying up insist that it does. Kondo says, “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life,” hitting the same points as those many books focused entirely on work-life balance. She may be on to something.


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Work-Life Balance: Can Tidying Help With Balance? - Executive Leadership Articles

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