Put it backWhen I was little, my parents tried to teach me to put things back where they belong. Part of this same advice was to put things back where I found them, or how I found them.

I was in our lunch room at work, with the door mostly closed, because it opens onto a main corridor. Someone came in, used the sink, we exchanged pleasantries, then she left. And left the door open. Why? Because. Probably because it didn’t occur to her that the door was closed when she came in, and probably because, once she left, the position of the door had no importance.

I advocate a policy of thought. Rather than put something back the way it was found, or in the place it was found, I propose giving extra thought to it’s state prior to making changes and deciding it’s appropriate state after making changes.

For example, if I needed a coat and someone had left a coat hanging on a chair and gave me permission to use it, do I put it back on the chair when I’m finished? Maybe he doesn’t want it and I can keep it or put in a used clothing box; maybe he found it somewhere and I can put it in a lost-and-found bin; maybe it didn’t belong on the chair and I can hang it in a closet (bedroom closet? hallway closet?); or maybe he’s planning to see me later and I can do whatever I like with, as long as I return it. All kinds of options that don’t necessarily involve me returning the coat to the chair, but also don’t dictate any specific course of action.