We recently moved back from the suburbs into San Francisco proper, but our new house is a little smaller than the old one. In particular, there is a lot less counter space than we are used to in the kitchen, which means that things very quickly fill up if we are not careful, at which point it becomes almost impossible to even think about activities such as cooking or simply making a sandwich.
The only way to conquer this situation is to always empty the dishwasher as soon as it is clean, which then allows us to immediately put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, rather than allowing them to pile up on the counters. Of course, this requires a fair amount of discipline…
Yesterday evening was another of those days (maybe because it was the end of an exhausting work week) where we were too tired to immediately put away the clean dishes, which meant that the first dirty dishes landed on the counters. Once some crap has started to pile up on the counters, the inhibition to add additional crap is a lot less, and from that point on it just goes downhill. Now, cleaning everything up becomes a major effort, which is therefore postponed for as long as possible… At the end of the evening, the counters are full of dirty dishes, garbage, food leftovers, etc.
This morning I realized that this is exactly the same issue as in the Broken Windows theory that the Pragmatic Programmers Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt describe in their book and on their website. I guess it is one of those cases where the same problems manifest themselves in software development as well as in real life.