A big snowstorm hit a few days ago and unfortunately my oldest daughter had a fever and we didn’t head out for sledding. Before cabin fever set in, I resorted to extreme measures–I began cleaning. I didn’t clean the whole apartment but focused on the stacks of books and paperwork that was starting to make the apartment look like New York City on the second day after a snow storm. Before I take off on another six hundred word essay here are some reasons cleaning is learning:
- It’s important to throw things out. It’s important to decide what isn’t important any more. It’s taking up space physically and mentally. ( This goes for your flashcard decks, too. See AJATT on the importance of deletion.)
- Cleaning and arranging is an active way to arrange priorities. Sorting gets you to think about what is important, inspiring, or fun. For example, which of the 15 books around our bed do I really want to read?
- Cleaning is like an spaced repetition system. Sorting and trashing is like a review of your whole life and priorities. It reminds me of places I’ve been and places I want to be. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way, suggests cleaning out a closet when you are creatively blocked.
- It’s a “one-minute” reading opportunity. I get a fair amount of professional literature. A lot of it is interesting material, but just letting reading pile up doesn’t help me. I quickly skim headlines, headings, quotes, and ideas before I throw the articles out or selectively save.
- Having a clean, calm space is like having a clean mirror. It’s much easier to see and clearly reflects your mind. Anybody who personally has seen my classroom, desk, or room knows that I need to practice what I preach here. However, I’ve noticed that when everything is neater, I “feel” more capable.
I’m not alone here. Both STUDY HACKS and Zen Suggestions for Simple Living call for cleaning and simplicity as way of
clearing your mind and getting better results. Studyhacks recommends that you start any study session by cleaning your desk. (A principle I often break. :). Don’t wait for the perfectly organized space to pursue your dream, but remember make cleaning and organizing part of your learning toolkit. Clean up your act!