Cleanliness is next to Progressliness

With Progress Chenango 2011, inarguably our most expansive project of the year, squarely behind us with the final installments in today’s edition, it’s time to turn our attention to the future, to map out the year which lies ahead, to set goals and establish new priorities.

But first, we’ve got to clean the office.

In what’s become as much a tradition as our post-Progress three martini lunch, today is also designated as post-Progress cleanup day. Shortly after today’s paper is put to bed, my little minions will set about tidying their work areas like so many shoemaker’s elves, discarding the detritous of day-to-day reporting and seeing, perhaps for the first time in months, the gleaming formica tops of their desks.

Me, I won’t have all that much to do. I’ve always been something of a neatnik, and my fastidiousness in this area has grown exponentially with time, evolving perhaps into what some would call a good old-fashioned obsessive compulsive disorder.

‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ is a mantra which I believe we would all do well to live by. My frustrations usually arise from trying to convince others that this is the Golden Rule. At home, this order is easily established. My home is my castle, and as King I reign benevolently over my loyal subjects.

Work, however, is a different case entirely. One could argue that I rule the roost here as well, but I’ve found over the years that legislating neatness is an arduous and often fruitless effort. In my later years, I’ve come to accept that a productive, well-adjusted employee is more valuable than simply an ordered, methodic one. Every once in a while, I get lucky and get one who is both. Go ahead, I’ll let you guess who is organizationally-challenged in the newsroom. I’ll not embarass the guilty further here.

I usually try to literally look over the cubicles which could be featured on an episode of “Hoarders.” In my own office, tidiness is the order of the day. Once an item finds its way to my desk, I tend to process it immediately, believing firmly that no one ever delivers a piece of paper to my office with the intention of it remaining there for all eternity. Type it in, scan it, file it, send it out, pass it on. The surface of my desk is always as clean and uncluttered as the day it was delivered.

Which is, of course, a constant source of amusement. Visitors being given a tour of the building are often herded into my office, where they marvel at the sheer pristineness of it all. “Looks like no one does any work in here!” they chortle. “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind,” I retort.

Outside my office, in the common areas of the newsroom, things tend to pile up. I do my best to keep on top of things here and there, but with nine other people working in the same environs, and with the volume of newspapers, press releases and miscellaneous office hoo-ha that finds its way to Lackawanna Avenue, it’s tough to keep up. We’ve actually done a pretty good job at reducing the “incoming” here – and we thank you for your cooperation in cutting down on the mail (sorry, friends at the Post Office!) and faxes (just don’t, ever!) which used to bombard the newsroom. Welcome to the digital world, folks. Ironic, I suppose, my aversion to paper – but it’s 2011 for Pete’s sake!

So this morning, with Progress behind and a full year ahead, today’s the day to hoe the mess out. Our offices reclaimed from the abyss of disorganization, our files cleaned out and updated, and the crumbs of a thousand hurried breakfasts vacuumed from their hiding places, I’ll now be able to sit back and admire a job well done. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunjeff.

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