If You Can Lean, You Can Clean

With the inevitable slowdown in new projects that comes around during the holiday season, I was reminded of a saying I heard several years ago (attributed to Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame):

If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean.

As I touched on in my post on the Boy Scout Rule, I relish these bits of downtime as opportunities to clean up a little.


I always cringe when I hear a colleague say that they have “nothing to do.” Or when a person’s manager inquires about what they’re working on, and the person reports that they’re simply “waiting” for something.

At least as a software developer, I can say confidently that there is always something to do.

  • Remove some junk from your codebase (unused files/folders, ancient commented-out code, dead code)
  • Update that wiki article
  • Change that little thing that’s been bothering you but was too small to take time away from other work

Some of the nicest things are accomplished in small gaps between “real” work.

If you can lean, you can clean.