When it comes to decluttering your work calendar, event professionals can learn a lot from Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo.
After centuries of searching, we’ve finally found the key to eternal happiness, and who’d have thought it would be the thing we enjoy doing the least? That’s right: tidying. The idea that a tidy room is a tidy mind has become the mantra of the masses after audiences around the globe tuned in to Netflix’s latest streaming hit, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Best-selling author and now a TV celebrity, Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo has been helping people declutter their lives with a simple concept she calls ‘KonMari’.
“It’s about choosing joy,” she writes in her 2014 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs, and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do.”
The idea that by eradicating the clutter we see around us, we can remove the ‘shackles of stuff’ and reinvigorate our lives to focus on what’s important makes sense.
Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, states in his 2016 study that an overabundance of possessions can create chaos and disorder in our lives. “It’s the danger of clutter, the totality of one’s possessions being so overwhelming that it chips away at your well-being, relationships, and more, drowning in a sea of stuff,” Ferrari explains.
Whether it’s the clothes in your wardrobe, the books on your shelf or the items on your work desk, Kondo is adamant that if they don’t “spark joy”, then it’s time you waved them goodbye.
For event planners, however, there’s another kind of clutter to contend with, and it is in desperate need of some KonMari attention. With the ever-growing list of regional and international industry events filling the yearly calendar, diaries are getting jam-packed. As a result, it’s becoming harder to decipher which events are the most beneficial to us and which ones can be disregarded.
The continuous pressures of budget constraints and justifying time out of the office to attend a trade show or ‘fam trip’ don’t help, either. Being able to decide what makes an event worth attending, or to put it in Kondo’s terms, determining what events spark joy in our lives, is vital.
“Most professionals in Asia cannot justify attending an overseas event unless it is a rare occasion,” says Kestrel Lee, executive creative director, Freeman China. “The company will find it hard to justify paying delegate fees, flights and accommodation unless there is a PR angle for the company.”
So, what makes an event worth going to? For some, it’s the chance to stay ahead of the pack and learn about cutting-edge technology to implement at your clients’ events. For others, it’s all about the networking — mingling at the trade show after-party and collecting business cards from industry peers from around the world.
While both examples are valid reasons for attending an event, figuring out how good the content will be or how many quality connections you’re going to make prior to registering your attendance is where it gets tricky.
“It is always challenging to juggle ongoing projects and unforeseen client needs with attending industry events,” says Florence Chua, managing director of MCI Hangzhou. “One of the key considerations is ‘will clients be there?’, because it is always highly valuable to engage with clients face-to-face. However, it’s also important to consider whether there will be new learnings and connections.
“With the constant innovations and new offerings, it is always beneficial to keep abreast of new solutions that can help deliver better experiences. It’s also exciting to meet old friends and colleagues at such annual events.”
Industry events tend to cover a lot of the same topics, so finding an event that is worth the time and money to attend involves considering what type of content matters most to you.
“I like Design Indaba, a design-based event held annually in South Africa, which features a remarkable range of design-based speakers and design activism that seeks to make the world better,” adds Lee. “My other favourites are South by Southwest and Comic-Con. The culture and experience of these events make them unique and worth going to.”
When it comes to decluttering your work calendar, many tips can be gleaned from KonMari. One way to put your diary on a diet is to be ruthless with your time, just like the legion of Kondo fans have been with their homely possessions. As Lee argues: “Pick just one event for the industry sector that you like and where you can meet good friends and network — and repeat.”
If culling your pick of yearly events to attend is too difficult, there is a modification. Sometimes the road to achieving absolute Kondo is to simply prioritise what’s important and make sure you treat it as such.
“Know which events are attractive and important to your business and professional development, then mark the dates in your calendar and work towards scheduling incoming projects and engagements around it,” Chua concludes. “If you want it, you can make it happen.”.