Keeping your body, home, car, and office clean is important to good physical and mental health, as well as to your overall productivity. Keeping your mind clean is also important for your spiritual health and relationships.
Along with the 8 Tips to Get in Fighting Shape that I shared at the start of this blog, it’s important – especially now, in the middle of flu season, to avoid germs and stay healthy. Now, having said that, I wouldn’t advise getting obsessive about it. I once relayed, to my kids’ pediatrician, my mom’s advice about the importance of letting your kids “eat their pound of dirt” to develop healthy immune systems. I was mostly joking. The doctor, however, nodded and agreed it wasn’t a bad idea.
Maybe more importantly, keep your cell phone clean. Even there, it doesn’t pay to go overboard – maybe a quick swab of the surface with an alcohol wipe would be good, but you wouldn’t dunk it under the tap for a surgical scrub and expect it to do its job. Speaking of giving things a surgical scrub, it’s easy to remember how long to wash your hands: Just sing two verses of “Happy Birthday” while you scrub. Ignore the funny looks from the guy next to you.
Appearances count; keep the clothes clean and neat, as well. Would you show up for a job interview in a wrinkled shirt and torn jeans? Would you show up for a date, reeking of a hard run?
How about your car? If it’s full of clutter, how can you give your manager or coworker a ride to the airport?
Clutter in our immediate environment or workspace can translate into less productivity. You can employ the 5S methodology to tackle the problem right away: seiri (sorting), seiton (straightening or setting in order), seiso (sweeping, shining, or systematic cleaning), seiketsu (standardizing) and shitsuke (sustaining or self discipline). In short, eliminate the non-essentials; follow the old adage, “a place for everything, and everything in its place”; sweep and shine on a regular basis – don’t let dust, dirt, or grime accumulate; define responsibilities and processes; monitor and maintain the improvements so there’s no backsliding.
I say if I can close my eyes and lay hands on a pen and a blank sheet of paper, I’m good to go. My husband, the Six Sigma Black Belt, is only mildly amused.
It’s important to keep your mind clean, too. Again, a few cobwebs, a dustbunny, and the occasional smudge never hurt a brain. It’s okay to enjoy a naughty joke. It ceases to be okay when the joke is less funny than it is derogatory, bigoted, racist, sexist, or held afloat by an undercurrent of hate. I mean, I’m blond and I have a law degree – I know all the best jokes. I also know a few that are pure misogyny and libel. It shouldn’t be that hard to tell the difference, but as I tell my son, best keep them to yourself if you are still struggling with that concept. Developing empathy can help. Imagine, for a moment, that you are the subject of your thoughts, your jokes, your snide comments. How would you feel, honestly? Don’t just say, “I’d think it was funny!” – really consider if you would, or whether you’d be laughing to cover up the hurt, embarrassment, and resentment.
Don’t be that person – the one who causes just one tiny bit more pain in the world for no reason better than an awkward, uncomfortable chuckle.