I’ve been enjoying a few days off this week, and as I have been wandering the byways and bridle paths of south Dorset I have noticed the first signs of spring peeping through the dull winter landscape. It inspired me to indulge in the time-honored tradition of spring-cleaning.


I took a walk along the cliff tops and got all the cobwebs out of my head, as well as building up an appetite for some fine old English ale in the Red Lion. There is nothing finer than a pint of bitter served at room temperature.

In the hedgerows, the first signs of spring are starting to appear. I saw snowdrops, daffodils, and crocuses, as well as young deer and rabbits.

While mulling over the meaning of life, I got to thinking about my work and decided that I needed to have a bit of a clear out. I was soon at the local rubbish tip where I emptied out the car, repacked all my tools and spares, retrieved all the McDonalds bags, drink cans, and empty bags and boxes that at one time I thought would be useful, but have come to collect under the seats of the car because there hasn’t been a proper break in my work for some time. I rediscovered a considerable quantity of lost ballpoint pens, loose change, screwdrivers, memory sticks, and even a ten-pound note, which I thought had been lost, something that aggrieved me greatly.

I repacked all my toolboxes, after cleaning the tools in them and listing the items that are worn out, broken, or missing. This led to my manager receiving a very upsetting (for him) e-mail wherein I listed all the tools and equipment I needed to get replaced.

I also went through the paperwork that I have been carrying around; I filled a large rubbish sack with this and posted it into the paper recycling bin. Back at home I fired up my work laptop and spent a happy hour going through the folders, deleting unwanted files and making CD copies of the useful stuff.

Having done all this and repacked my boxes and bags I felt as though I was now ready to face the new week at work.

With my workplace being a car and in the absence of any office-cleaning service coming in each day to clean the floor and empty the bins, it is very easy for standards to slip and for my mobile empire to soon become squalid.

Sorting through the boxes of spare parts has a double benefit: first I get to throw out the empty boxes and bags that I had thrown back when a job is finished; second, it serves as a reminder of what stock I have and what I need to order. I also take the opportunity to ensure that parts get placed into the correct boxes, because sometimes, when I am in a hurry, I tend to sling stuff into the first box I encounter, leading to parts for one particular piece of equipment being stored in a variety of different places. I suppose this process is the service engineer’s equivalent of defragging a hard disk.

Do you ever take time out to clean up? Is it worthwhile or just a way to waste time? Let me know.