If No One Is Coming Over To Visit, Do You Clean and Organize?

Or do you wait until you have guests arriving in a few hours and then scramble to shove stuff in closets, under beds and vacuum?

I ask because I used to live in a mess either until I cleaned because someone was coming over or my mess got so bad that I simply couldn’t stand it.

My mom has always been a believer that it’s important to live in clean and beautifully arranged living spaces.  As I was growing up, she also was a firm believer in my freedom, so she let me keep my room how I wanted it, so I often liked to keep my room wild and in disarray.

In what state did you keep your room growing up?

Lately, after decades of living in messy spaces, I notice that I take time to clean and arrange my apartment almost every night before I go to bed.  (Most of my blue pens even still have caps that are on them rather than lost.  This is just plain unusual for me.)

Why my cleanliness conversion?  I think because I first really relished my freedom to live in a messy space and then finally noticed that my life simply is much easier and more joyful when I live in a clean and well-ordered space.

I made this choice not to please others but because it works best for me.

I urge you not to just agree with my choice, but rather to think about the following story and make the choices that work best for you.  This is a brief story about planting blue spruce trees on a hill in April.  (Which sounds like it has absolutely nothing to do with cleaning and organizing, but I find that there is an interesting link.)  Read on and see what you think.

Picture a guy named Kyle planting 50 small blue spruce trees on a hillside in April.  It has been raining for weeks and finally there is a clear afternoon.  Kyle starts out with a clean shovel and digs a few holes quickly.  As mud accumulates on the shovel, it becomes heavier and much less useful.

Now Kyle has a choice: Does he take the time to scrape the shovel off after every few holes or does he continue digging hole after hole as the mud accumulates?

Kyle is confident that he will eventually finish this project whether he cleans the shovel or not.  He knows that no one is watching and critiquing him to make sure that he attends to proper shovel maintenance.  It is just him, a whole bunch of blue spruce trees, a shovel and a hill.

Now Kyle considers that cleaning the shovel isn’t inherently good, and deciding not to clean the shovel isn’t necessarily a bad decision or cause for guilt.  If the shovel is cleaned, it simply works better.  Kyle knows that shovels don’t judge their users for not cleaning them; they just don’t have the capacity to work as well as they could.

So Kyle is up on the hill planting blue spruce trees and finally asks himself, “What will make my life more pleasurable, working faster and exerting less effort with a clean shovel or working extra hard with a shovel packed with mud?”

Each day how do you choose whether or not to clean the “shovels” in your life?

Game of the Day

  1. How does the shovel story tie into the discussion of how we each choose to keep our living spaces?
  2. What are the “shovels” in your life?  How will you decide how you want to treat them?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.


2 responses

  1. 1. It seems to me that the shovel is our living space and the shoveling is whatever we want to do in it. The mud is the general clutter of our home which tends to make doing those things maybe not so much more difficult as less easy.

    2. Right now it’s a giant stack of things on my coffee table. I tell myself every week that I’m going to sort everything and keep it organized, but it never happens. It’s “good enough” for now and I’d rather spend the time doing something fun or interesting…I am totally the grasshopper.

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