Clean up as you go

Posted by on Dec 28, 2010 in Blog | One Comment
Clean up as you go
This is a new principle that I have been working on and is grounded in the three permaculture ethics.
Care of People


Emotionally cleaning up as you go. This means dealing with the stuff that comes up when relating to others in the moment, not leaving it for later when it has gone stale or festered.


Emotional Energy is powerful. It can make people uncomfortable, but it is there to make our lives rich. It really points the way and inspires us to care.


Care of the Planet

The planet is a very big place compared to you. Yet everyone has a place where they live, work and play. Often when we do some these things we can mess that space up a little. Clean that up before moving onto the next thing.


Cleaning up is a valuable integration time. It is often work that doesn't require your complete focus so the mind, body and spirit can absorb and integrate the information from the work without being overwhelmed with new stimulus.


"But I don't have time right now, i'll do it later" – Trying to work where there are unfinished jobs stacking up and cluttering the space takes more of your time and mental energy. Starting work in a clean space feels great.


My tools are ready & waiting for the spark of my inspiration.



Fair Share.
It is only fair to leave a place at least as beautiful as how you found it. Who knows how many generations are going to walk the ground after us.


Committing to this principle now and demonstrating your integrity by following it even when you're the only one around will be passed on like magic to your children and others around you.

People will welcome you and appreciate your company because unconsciously they know you aren't going to tax their time by leaving a pile of work for them.


When this principle is fully integrated there is no difference between making sure your food scraps end up in a compost, your dishes are done after a meal and your mine tailings are stable under a revegetated native forest.


When you clean up as you go, you can always manage it. It never becomes overwhelming.


The overwhelming part comes when you are attuned and balanced in your work / clean ratio and you meet someone who is so unconscious of their trail of disorder.
Fortunately if you are ready everything will be clear.


There is a powerful ally force. When a space is clear and the first element of chaos enters, it is very obvious.


If the space is already cluttered then other clutter will very quickly accumulate around it. The additional stuff become invisible, cloaked in the aura of general disorder.


A dirty mug (that only needs a rinse) on an otherwise clean counter is very obvious. It is essential to bring awareness to that moment.


People will often be quite obliging to finish before they start something else, The space will relax when it is clear again.
The balancing force to this is that a clear space will inspire people to use it, to fill it with life. That's great and the whole point.


Once you reach the zen master level, there is no more cleaning up to do. Everything is done in the moment as it happens. When it is time to put something down, it is placed where it belongs and that is it.


I came to this principle because I had a lot of stuff that needed finishing. I realized that those are ties to the past but I can't go back in time and finish them properly. Knowing that I am unhappy with the unfinished stuff that i'd accumulated and accepting that I couldn't go back and clean up as I was doing it, I resolved to start now, cleaning up as I go.


The change of state was empowering and I immediately noticed results. Things that were around for well past their time
Moving something that has been bothering you in the back of your mind for a long time is like a wave of relief and power. You can change and you can change your environment.


1 Comment

  1. Ann
    December 29, 2010

    Dear Guy,
    Funnily, we have just come to the same conclusion. We have had a giant clean-up to prepare for friends here over Christmas and now we are really trying to not let the clutter build up again. It is a real pleasure to work in a cleared space. I’m even tackling the sewing baskets, which is the ultimate mess and clutter. We have had two trips to the tip and 1 to the op shop this week. You have inspired us to keep it going,
    love Ann and Ed