The organization guru and Tidying Up star shares her best tips for finding work-life balance during the coronavirus crisis

By Mackenzie Schmidt
April 09, 2020 09:00 AM
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Like the rest of us, Marie Kondo is unexpectedly spending a lot more time at home these days.

She’s running her KonMari company from an office she shares with her husband (the one with the better wifi signal), taking care of their two young daughters who are home from school, cooking three meals a day, and of course tidying.

She’s also promoting her newest book Joy at Work via Zoom interviews after her book tour was cancelled, like so much else. And while it might not seem like an opportune time to be promoting a guide to living your best office life when people can’t go to work or have lost their jobs, she says, her advice translates to WFH life.

“I believe that fundamentally it’s the same whether you’re working in your work space at home or in your office,” Kondo tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

The keys: creating a healthy environment, having a consistent routine, taking time to recharge, and accepting that, yes, sometimes things are going to be chaotic.

Credit: Michael Buckner/Shutterstock

Here are her best tips to make working from home a little more joyful.

1. Leave Your Bedroom (If You Can)

“Even if you don’t have a work desk at home, sit up straight at your dining table or kitchen counter,” says Kondo. “And do something that signals the start of your work day.”

“Just wiping down the surface of your desktop is helpful,” she says, but if you’re feeling a little more ambitious, she also suggests creating a little ritual to signify that you’re “shifting gears from private mode to work mode.” In her home office, she uses a quartz crystal and tuning fork from her own line to restore balance and establish a good vibe, but she says something as simple as breaking out some scented oils, is a good signifier to the body of transition.

2. Add an Item that Sparks Joy

In Kondo’s case it’s a small wooden egg that’s meant to be rolled under the palm as a meditation. A house plant works, too. She calls these “joy plus” pieces and they don’t count as clutter!

3. Remember to Take Breaks

“If you work from home, you tend to lose track of time,” says Kondo. “Designate a time for a coffee or tea break. Step away use this time to fully disconnect and recharge.”

Credit: KonMari Media, Inc.

4. Keep Your Work Space Tidy

Kondo’s work surface holds her computer, a charging pad and a tray from her line to keep small items (like blue-light-blocking glasses she designed) corralled. “Put only what’s essential on your work surface,” she says. “This is extremely important and will allow you to focus on your work and minimize the time you are looking for the things you need.”

Put distracting items out of sight. Place your phone in a drawer and keep snacks out of easy reach. Mindless snacking “is something I’m often guilty of as well,” Kondo says.

Credit: Marie Kondo/Instagram

5. Make a Schedule for Kids…

Creating a lineup for each day is “so important,” says Kondo, “whether it’s making breakfast together, reading or doing puzzles,” so kids know what to expect when their routine is out of whack.

6. …And Let Them Know Yours

“When you’re designating a time for work, share your intention with your family members,” she says, so little ones are more likely to observe it. “I try to close the office door when I’m working, but sometimes they will still knock really loudly and try to come in.”

7. Make the Most of Meltdowns

“I think it’s quite natural for kids to have tantrums — when they do, they do!” says Kondo. When her kids act up, Kondo says, “I take the time to listen. Once they’ve calmed down, I ask them what’s bothering them and then, to let them know I understand, I say, ‘So that made you sad,’ or ‘That’s what you didn’t like.’ I try to honor their feelings.

8. Take Time to Tidy Together

Her daughters won’t clean up on their own, “but they will when I ask them to!” she says. “We make it a daily practice and tidy together at the end of the day.”

Joy at Work, coauthored with organizational psychologist Scott Sonenshein, is available now.