The Business of Ironing

by HRM07 Jul 2014

Have you ever wondered why we iron our clothes?  I have, and it usually is around the time when I am doing just that. Smooth, flat, pressed clothes are part of our culture. It is important in our personal life, and important in business. Friends might tease you about "rolling out of bed in those clothes", or it may impact how your colleagues view you.

I was recently working as a recruiter, and one of my fellow recruiters stated that "if someone had wrinkled clothes, then it was points against them." Now we didn't use a point system, so that was just a figure of speech. However, many people have an opinion about wrinkled clothes. I have heard people say that it demonstrates an attention to detail, or relate it to organization. This got me thinking about ironing in the business sense.


When you relate sharp pressed clothes to business, you are focusing on details, and presentation. I get that. Then I also think about the time and/or money that this consumes. Spending time on ironing is fruitless. There is no productive value.  If you head into work wearing ironed clothes you have to sit in the car, or on the bus. There goes the ironing on your shirt and pants, and your clothes have wrinkles.

There are "wrinkle-free" shirts and pants, but who really wants to go around in clothing infused with formaldehyde?

While I could continue to describe different aspects of wrinkled or ironed clothes, that it not the point I am trying to make. I use the clothing as a representation. How often do we get involved with unproductive tasks both in life and at work? Often times we may focus on these unproductive tasks at the expense of the more important issues. When looking for alternatives it is also important to weigh the risks, as with the "wrinkle-free" shirts. Is something really better, or does it just appear that way? Look for something that will make an impact, and if you don't find anything, that's just fine. You should feel good that you made an effort to look for an alternative.

The call to action

Ask yourself "why?" Why am I doing this? What value does it add?  Is it important? Then make a decision on whether or not something needs to change. If you start asking why, and begin to evaluate actions and activities, you might find a better way of doing things in both your personal life and at work. Think differently, act differently, and get different (hopefully better) results!

Connect with Benjamin Patient on LinkedIn.

This blog post has been mirrored from HRM America: The Business of Ironing