FAIRBANKS - I walked into the office of one of our local professionals the other day and was appalled at the mess in his workplace! There were papers all over the desk, books lying all around and Post-it notes everywhere! I was embarrassed for him. Then, I realized it was like my office.

Like many Fairbanksans, I do not see the mess I have made of my workplace because I get up at the same time every morning, go through the same daily morning routine, drive the same streets to work, weave around the same pot holes and park in the same spot. I walk in the same door, climb the same steps and unlock the same office door every day. With this feeble excuse, I justify the mess around me that I no longer see. But it is now March and spring will soon spring; filth and clutter can hide no more!

Every customer who walks into my place of business, and everyone who walks into yours, forms a first impression based upon how clean and professional our workplace appears to them. They see what we do not and form a lasting first impression. None of us would eat at a restaurant that served our food on dirty dishes or had a filthy kitchen, but in reality, we judge the kitchen we do not see by the carpet, walls and clutter that has gathered near the cash register that we can see.

I need to pay closer attention to the appearance of my office. To do that I intend to break the habitual chains that block my vision by taking different routes to work. I will walk in through different doors and try to get out of the winter ruts I’ve created on my office carpet. I need to take the boring and pathetic junk off my office walls and hang motivational posters from successories.com.

Starting today, or maybe tomorrow, I’ll recite every morning that famous poem by Scotsman Robert Burns: “To see ourselves as others see us, would from many a blunder free us.” My challenge to myself and my challenge to you is to shake up your routine (aka your rut). A character from James Clavell’s “Shogun” states that “It is all so easy, to change the world; you merely have to change the way you see the world.” Without a change in routine, the clutter and mess and other things that shouldn’t grow in our businesses will continue to spontaneously generate right before our blinded eyes. 

This could be a three page column, but I’ve got to go now and clean my office. Has anyone seen my trash can?

 Charle Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus. He may be reached by email at cndexter@alaska.edu. This column is provided as a public service by the UAF Community and Technical Colleges.