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May 11, 2004
I can hardly believe my eyes -- where is the pile of papers wedged in between the printer and the monitor, where are the stapler and the stamps, the messy heap of deposit slips?

I open one of the doors of the retired vanity I use as a desk and there they are, all neatly arranged. Rosie has cleaned my office. She had an extra thirty minutes after she finished her secretarial work for the Farm, and she spent it reorganizing.

Rosie is seventeen. She has the bedroom of a seventeen-year-old -- it can be frightening to behold. Organizing is not the first word that leaps to mind when you think of her. But she is a good secretary. She takes the time to get things right, keeps things in order, writes things down. She can do things on the job that elude her elsewhere.

Which is true of many people. You let things hang out at home, maybe, but at work you are on task and on target. There's something about not living there that assists in the maintenance of order: work has a beginning and an end. It is not forever. You're not trapped there. And so you can take this smaller slice of your world and make it work well.

And another thing: work is not yours. Your home is yours, your room is yours, but work is public. You don't own it; it's someone else's. I knew two women who used to clean each other's houses -- they could never get it done at home, it seemed, and so they just traded houses once a week and did a bang-up top-to-bottom job -- on someone else' house. With a thoroughness they never could have -- well, never would have -- mustered, if it had been their own.

So off we go into the day. If you are at home, treat it as if it were someone else's and show it some respect. Be a whirlwind in it for an hour or two, and savor the results. And if you are at work, be a whirlwind there, too, and then rejoice -- it's limited. There's a quitting time. And it's not yours.
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