Time to clean house as we start 2017.
As is customary for the new year, I’ve become a big believer in the phrase, “Out with the old, in with the new.” I have been on a cleaning kick lately as I’ve been trying to free myself of the flotsam and jetsam around my house and office. You know, the crud that mysteriously accumulates around you. It was in my garage where I first started to notice it. Despite my best intentions, I was still collecting and saving things with the thought I might need to use someday.
It started with my bicycles, which I haven’t driven in several years now. I gave the best one to my son who now uses it around his neck of the woods. I trashed the other. Since then, I’ve disposed of a fertilizer spreader, various cans of paint, and much more. I suddenly discovered I could get both my cars in the garage comfortably. “Who-da-thunk-it?” As an aside, I believe there is a business opportunity for cleaning up garages and turning them into man caves.
I then moved on to my office where I disposed of old CD’s, books, and ancient computer cables, not to mention dusting and cleaning everything. “Where did all this dirt come from?” I asked myself. I am also not one to make use of trays as it has a tendency to collect superfluous trash as opposed to anything of merit.
There are those who believe a sloppy desk is indicative of a brilliant mind. Baloney. A sloppy desk is indicative of a pigpen and the person is disorganized and undisciplined. Too often people use a cluttered desk to give the illusion they are being overworked and use it as an excuse for being late on a project. For managers who have been around the block a couple of times, a cluttered desk doesn’t fool anyone anymore. In our office, we would tell our programmers to subscribe to the military concept whereby you either work on something, file it, or throw it away. If we need more file cabinets, we’ll get them, but let’s not let our desks become pigpens. To enforce this rule, we would periodically go through the office at night and throw all of the debris on the desks into the garbage. You do this a couple of times and people finally take you seriously. Keeping a clean and orderly workplace can have a dramatic and positive effect on the demeanor of your office workers and they will start to behave more professionally.
I am mindful of the Bryce’s Law whereby, “Everything eventually ends up in the garbage dump.” Think about it, everything you bring into your home and office will someday be disposed of, and I mean everything. The question becomes, “When?” Preferably sooner, rather than later. As I’ve been cleaning house, I’ve been challenging why I’ve been keeping certain items. Two reasons come to mind, sentimental value and laziness. Because of this, I’m starting to look at things with a fresh perspective and only keeping those items I really need.
Using the first of the year as a day to clean your department can work wonders on the morale of your people. It can improve camaraderie simply by working together on something other than regular work assignments. It also makes them cognizant of where everything is. The key though is to get everyone to participate, not just a few.
People still practice Spring Cleaning at home as well. You see signs of it by the many garage sales in the Spring where people circulate their junk to other people who recycle it around the neighborhood. I tend to believe there is a certain amount of items we simply rotate from one household to another, so why bother with the garage sales? Let’s just play musical chairs with it. Better yet, why don’t we just dispose of it once and for all?
I remember my Scottish grandmother in Buffalo, New York was a big believer in Spring Cleaning. Every year she would lead the family in cleaning the house like Atilla the Hun. Beds would be turned, rugs taken out and beaten, windows washed inside and out, silverware polished, kitchen and bathroom floors and fixtures scrubbed, etc. You get the picture; she was very thorough, but she wouldn’t stop with inanimate objects, to her way of thinking “Spring Cleaning” also meant cleaning up the family. To this end, once a year she would brew a pot of tea made from Senna Leaves, a very powerful herbal stimulant laxative. I guess she figured it was needed to clean out the toxins in our system, and as anyone in our family can testify, it works, perhaps too well. Not long after drinking a cup of this tea, your system would be flushed of impurities right down the toilet, perhaps hours at a time. It was rather brutal. This tea was so strong, it would even clean the dirt from behind your fingernails and the wax from your ears. Small wonder Spring Cleaning conjures us a bad image in my mind.
As a result, I try to keep things orderly and tidy all the time as opposed to waiting for a Spring Cleaning. Maybe that is what my grandmother was trying to teach us all along. Nonetheless, I haven’t had a cup of tea in years.
Keep the Faith!