The Difference

I have a messy desk, and there is really no excuse. I am a proficient worker in that environment and my mind is always thinking of the next task to accomplish and what needs to get done. I don’t bother with ‘tidying up’. I know I could be much more organized and efficient if I kept a clean desk. But I don’t.

I’m working on it.

That saying really cracks me up. How often do we tell ourselves that we are ‘working on it’. How often to we tell others that? For me that saying acts more like a crutch. It is merely a place holder to divert attention away from the fact that I’m not working on it. I just want to move on from the unwanted attention on that issue and get back to not working on it.

But imagine with me, fellow dreamers, if we actually started working on it. I know, I know, it sounds impossible; but its not. And the biggest differences can be attained rather easily, from an effort and time standpoint.

Back to the desk example; the difference between taking a stack of papers from a coworker and putting them in some random place on my desk and putting them in the drawer a foot to my left in the proper hanging folder is 20 seconds. At most. (I believe the average to be about 13.4 seconds, but we will stay conservative.) Now multiply that out over every instance I could put something away or add to the clutter over an 8 hour work day. Lets say an average of 6 opportunities an hour to either put away or just throw on my desk. That’s 1 minute and 40 seconds of extra effort an hour, or under 15 minutes a day. That’s nothing!

15 minutes a day and my work space would look completely transformed. People wouldn’t cringe whenever they came into my office. And looking nice would merely be an accompaniment to the easier, more efficient time I would have accomplishing tasks. I would have set myself up to be more focused, and given myself the potential to transform that focus into higher quality results.

Now after reflecting on this concept of taking small, efficient steps towards a substantial change (cluttered vs. clear desk) did it inspire me to clean up my workplace?

I’m working on it.

But it got me thinking! How cluttered is my faith life? In trying each and every day to live life with kindness, intention and love? The answer is very, very cluttered. Like the toy bin in the basement was raided by your two young nieces cluttered. Like I can’t see the carpet anymore cluttered. Like I’m never walking barefoot through the basement again for fear of the horrible combination of lurking lego pieces and young, ridiculing laughter cluttered.

Connecting our actions to our beliefs every day is a great challenge. But one that can be tackled in very small, effective ways. I don’t have to acquire a new identity or even outlook towards things to start feeling more alive in my day to day faith. Yes, I can experience a bump in those weekly services I attend, or in the random encouraging conversation had with a friend, or in a small group I’m a part of. But I want consistency! I want to rid myself of my spiritual clutter.

Responding in anger. Noticing others faults and not my own. Cursing out the slow driver in the left lane. (Ok the jury is still out on the last one, some consider it a form of ‘tough love’) It can all be cleaned up in about 15 intentional minutes a day. You don’t have to be in the ‘God Zone” to act kindly to a stranger. You don’t have to be moved by the Spirit to exercise patience in a trivial circumstance. You just have to focus on trying to be a good person. And recognize that moments arise where you can quickly dismiss someone or something, or take the extra 90 seconds to do the right thing. To stop by and say hi. To reserve judgment towards someone else. To withhold that snappy, venomous comeback.

No agenda needed, no need to drastically impact others’ lives, just a general interest in the well being of others is all it takes; trying to maintain an outlook that will constantly remind you to slow down and realize that life does indeed go on. And executing that outlook in the handful of minutes a day where the difference can be acutely felt by yourself and others is actually quite simple.

Now that is something that I can work on.

As an old, kind man once told me:

“Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch, is a cinch.”

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