March 22, 2006
I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. One of its ideas is that a small change can make a great impact. For instance, the Broken Windows theory asserts that if you take care of problems like lighting, litter, and graffiti, you can reduce crime in a neighborhood - even in a big city. (Gladwell discusses the revitalization of New York City as his example.)
So I'm trying out a few things:
Making the bed. - Not profound, is it? I made my bed as a kid, because I had to. Now I'm doing it because it feels good to turn in for the night and have a pocket of serenity waiting for me in the form of my nicely made bed. I've made it really easy for myself too. There's no flat sheet, just a duvet to shake out, spread out, and tuck in. I've even figured out how to make the bed around the cats. Tabitha wants to be there to "help" while Ginger is perturbed by the disturbance to her repose. I just get them to move to another part of the bed, adjust the duvet and pillows, and then let the cats settle back to their chosen spots. I think they like a fresh-made bed too.
Shining my sink. - I learned about a site called FlyLady that helps those of us without a clue establish a housekeeping routine. Daily reminders, "missions" and testimonials are sent by email. I haven't kept up very well to date but it's not about pressuring yourself, it's about just taking small steps in order to make life easier for yourself. So for the present, I scrub and rinse dishes and set them in the dishwasher so I have a fresh sink, ready for the next use. I use a dishcloth to dry up the sink after I'm done using it. At night, before going to bed, I spritz some glass cleaner and wipe down the surface so it's nice and shiny. The idea behind this act is that by maintaining one small area, you'll be inspired to tackle other areas...eventually establishing a routine so that the household runs more smoothly and your time is freed up to pursue other activities. At the same time, it's not about being perfect - it's about just taking a step, and then another step, and so on.
I feel dragged down by having my home space in disarray. It's hard to relax, being surrounded by papers to file, books or cds to put away, and running out of room for things. (That's a whole other can of worms right there.) I'm too embarrassed to have anybody over for a visit. So for now, I'm just going to do these two little things and see where it takes me.
At work - In my department, there's a little trash can in the printer/copier area, as well as a huge paper recycling bin. Whenever we print to the network printer, there's a cover sheet to identify the owner of the print job. It seems so wasteful, but it is useful when we're all sending print jobs and trying to find our documents.
Now and again I've found my colleagues trashing their cover sheets in instead of recycling them. I don't understand this - the bin is right next to the copier. It's not hard to use the right disposal bin. So far I've just plucked sheets out of the trash can and tossed them into the bin, thinking that would be a subtle clue. I could say something, but I don't want to be annoying to my colleagues - who are all senior to me.
So I just moved the trash can under the small table by the copier. It's still available, just less obvious. And so far the move seems to have worked. I'm now seeing discarded cover sheets in the recycling bin. And it wasn't much work. It just took a little thought and a little action to solve a small problem.