By Virginia Boles

This August, I began teaching at a school in Manhattan. I was working in the faculty lounge (a fairly small space where a lot of supplies are stored), and one of the other teachers mentioned, “Wow, they did a great job organizing this room! You should have seen it last year.” I was struck by how much the clean, orderly, cared-for space was appreciated by my co-workers. Now I’ve been there for a couple of months, and slowly but surely, the faculty lounge has begun to suffer the “tragedy of the commons.” From my co-worker’s comment at the beginning of the school year, I realized how much serenity an orderly, clean workspace can give. So, I’ve tried to do my part to keep the faculty room clean. It can be small things like changing the water cooler bottle when it runs out, emptying the trash can or putting in a new liner, throwing away the little shreds of paper left by the paper cutter, throwing away an empty cup left on a desk. These small details, which don’t take much time, make a huge difference after a while in keeping an area clean. It’s something that no one will notice if it’s taken care of, but that everyone will notice if it’s not taken care of. So with only a little bit of extra effort on our part, we can bring more serenity to our workplace, and help people be happier while they work.

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