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Sparking Joy to the World

Lena Walker, OD, of Family Vision of Oregon in St. Helens, Oregon, first became interested in Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of keeping one’s life tidy when her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came out. Dr. Walker applied the method of finding the items that spark joy in her own home and purging the excess items accumulated over time. The KonMari website defines the method to help people “keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service—then let them go.” Dr. Walker was so engaged with the method, she became certified in the method. She finished her certification earlier this year after passing tests and meeting a certain number of hours, joining the roughly-300 certified people in the world. “We all have the same mindset,” says Dr. Walker of a KonMari meeting, “so it was like having 100 people who thought exactly alike.”

Out with the old

Dr. Walker notes the timeliness of the conversation as Kondo’s new book Joy at Work will arrive in stores in spring 2020. This book will touch on the practices Dr. Walker has been applying to her own office. “When we only keep the items that spark joy, it’s calming and easy to clean. Anyone who is working will always know where to store things quickly and efficiently if everything has its place.” Dr. Walker also notes the benefits of keeping only the best items in one’s surroundings. “In an office setting, the things that spark joy aren’t necessarily the things we like personally, but the things we need to have to serve our patients. Year after year, we know what our favorite and most needed items are.”

Sparking joy among her fellow ODs

Optometrists who are intrigued by the KonMari method could implement some strategies immediately, Dr. Walker says. First impressions count. “Most optometry offices have an optical gallery and, in my opinion, the first impression makes the biggest impact. I would start by making sure the entrance to your office is presentable.”

  • Keep the patient in mind. Dr. Walker also suggests that it’s important to remember who the decor is serving. “[Choose] signage and decor that appeals to your clientele, not necessarily to your staff and doctors.”
  • Declutter the front desk. When it comes to the front desk, she urges ODs and their staff members to get rid of old pens and papers—anything that may affect the first impression of a patient.
  • Organize exam rooms. What impression are patients getting about the practice from the exam room? “You open a drawer, and everything is piled in there—thrown haphazardly. When patients see that, it doesn’t give them a good impression of how organized you are or even how well you will take care of them.” Organized practices can also improve safety measures because it’s easier to implement processes for diligently throwing out expired items in exam rooms.
  • Clean out your own closet. Finally, Dr. Walker has a recommendation on a slightly more personal level. “Start by tidying your wardrobe, shoes and accessories. Then, when we make that first impression, we will only be wearing items that spark joy.” She encourages ODs to make the time to take care of themselves, and through her practices in the KonMari method, she has made the connection of tidying up as a form of self-care. “Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves, but a more powerful impression comes because we feel good from within.”
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