Does your Law School Supplement Spark Joy?

Does your Law School Supplement Spark Joy?

This week we welcome back guest writer Alexandra Muskat to discuss how the KonMari Method of tidying can be applied to law students.

If you’re a Netflix addict like myself, you’ve likely heard of the popular new series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” The hit series based on an international best-selling book, brings the decluttering Japanese technique, KonMari, into American homes. Throughout the series, Kondo enters the home of several families, gets to the root of core issues that influence the mess in their home, then walks them through the five KonMari steps aimed to declutter their surroundings and give them peace of mind. The series most definitely triggers emotion, as we witness firsthand how this method benefits a family whose hectic schedule, complete with caring for two toddlers, causes a rift in their marriage. We see how this method helps a grieving widow who finds it difficult to say goodbye to the items of her loved one who has passed on.

However, the episode that I connected with most deeply was episode five. This episode titled, “From Students to Improvements,” surveys the mess of two recent graduates, now turned writers whose personal libraries have become overwhelming. As a recent graduate myself, I’ve admittedly held on to books and papers trailing all the way back to my junior year of college. Therefore, I personally felt the frustration of this couple as they struggled to discard books or papers. However, I was amazed at how freeing the KonMari method was in improving their home and benefitting their lifestyle. So this got me thinking. More specifically, it got me thinking that if this method can be effective for former students, how much more so could this method benefit current law students? Well, let’s find out.

What is the KonMari Method?

KonMari is a decluttering method that focuses on organizing five areas that serve to primarily contribute to the mess in our lives. The basic crux of this method is to survey the items causing the mess, determine whether they “spark joy,” if they do, hold on to them and if not, you should thank them for their service and then discard them. Kondo suggests applying this technique to the below five areas.

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Komono (captures all four of the below areas)
    • Kitchen
    • Bathroom
    • Garage
    • Miscellaneous Items
  5. Sentimental Items

If these items are left cluttered it can serve to severely disrupt our lives, because living in a messy space can place a damper on our psychological well-being. KonMari can serve as a great addition to your self-care routine. It can serve to benefit your mental health, and it can also help to maintain focus.

Can KonMari Benefit the Busy Law Student?

So let’s jump in to the root of this article, can KonMari benefit the busy law student? In theory, yes. As stated above, less clutter helps one to focus, and law students certainly need all the focus they can possibly maintain. However, as always, I want to keep it real. Applying the KonMari method to the five categories above is extremely time consuming. Now, if you have additional time on your hands, especially at the start of a semester, I definitely recommend going in all the way with this method and at least creating an organized frame for your surroundings. However, if like most law students you have no time or very limited time, KonMari may benefit you best if you apply it to the most relevant categories in your current life: books and papers.

Books

Applying the KonMari method to declutter a book collection has certainly sparked the most controversy surrounding this technique. People are not very open to the idea that a book could be no longer needed if it no longer sparks joy and they therefore experience apprehension at the thought of removing the book from their home.

Thankfully, as a law student, I can already make the assumption that many of your law school texts do not spark joy. Therefore, the decision to remove a book from your home stems from the question of whether the book is still relevant to where you are in your law school career. Kondo says that every book must have its home, so, as you filter through your collection, you only want to keep the amount of books that won’t exceed your book storage at home, i.e. bookshelf etc. Additionally, you only want to hold on to about 30 books. As a law student, I understand the need to exceed this number considering the hefty book requirements. However, it may not be beneficial to exceed this number by much, especially with your leisure books.

Papers

Law students are no strangers to the mass heaping of papers we typically keep in our surroundings. Whether it be papers you thought were important so you’ve held on to them waiting to actualize their purpose, or papers that outline class notes or final exam study guides, you can probably find some that can go. Law students have a ton of papers, and KonMari can help to get these papers sorted. Start with bringing all your papers to one room and begin the purging process. If it’s no longer important and if it no longer brings joy, shred or recycle it accordingly. Those 1L outlines may need to go. Now keep in mind that some 1L papers may be necessary for bar prep in the future. However, if your papers are not beneficial now and not foreseeably beneficial in the future, get rid of it. Alternatively, if your papers give you joy, put them in folders and store them on a bookshelf or a similar storage space.

Applying the KonMari method to papers and books will take time. However, this is time well spent as decluttering these areas will help you to be more efficient in having fewer books and paperwork to sort through to complete work tasks. Additionally, consider organizing your books and papers in out of the box ways that cuts down on hard copies. Depending on whether you study at home in a space that holds your books and papers, decluttering can serve to free that space and build your focus.


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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