Recently the Academy team dedicated an entire Friday at the Academy office to de-cluttering, cleaning and purging old files and materials. We had a thorough spring cleaning two summers ago and had noticed items in each of our offices and common areas starting to pile up again. Instead of working in the chaos and clutter that surrounded us, we did something about it!
You might wonder why we would have our entire San Diego team spend time on this project. There are always multiple projects going on at once and ideas to implement, which means over the years we’ve accumulated paper files, knick-knacks that collect dust and thank you cards that should have been tossed. By taking time to organize our physical space and thoroughly clean, we were able to relieve stress we didn’t even realize was surrounding us. It also gave us a great sense of accomplishment to see stacks of files leave the office to be shredded, items donated, and garbage tossed out.
Also, it was not a boring day where we quietly cleaned our respective offices. We were systematic about what we did and we made a game out of it, of course! Hopefully, by sharing the details, we inspire you and your team to join in!
Setting the Stage – The Environment
- We asked everyone to wear old clothes or workout attire that could get dusty and dirty
- As our team arrived at the office, they heard energetic music playing (we had multiple speakers set up around the office so wherever they walked, they heard fun music)
- We picked up a variety of breakfast goodies on our way into the office so we could eat a treat before getting started (of course there was coffee as well!)
- We had an easel with the agenda for the day and how to earn points toward winning the game
- We catered lunch so we could take a break together and laugh about what we had found hidden away from many years ago
- We ended the day with a happy hour to celebrate our accomplishments
How the Game Worked
- We wanted to purge old files, so tasks that encouraged getting rid of paperwork and clutter were worth more points than simple cleaning
- Each person had a dedicated amount of time to clean their office or cubicle
- Our newer team members were able to receive points for helping others clean the glass on their desks or organizing common areas
- We had a long list of common area items and bookshelves that needed to be organized and cleaned so our team could check off items as they went along
- There was a tracking sheet hanging on the wall where everyone’s names were listed and people could tally their points throughout the day and see who was in the lead
- The winner received a gift (and bragging rights)
If you’re skeptical about the game aspect of this, I want to mention that one person even went so far as to clean the glass windows in every office just to earn more points. Others would swing by my office and ask questions about earning additional points such as, “If I take out a box to the recycling bin, is that worth more points?” By making a game out of this project, it encouraged participation and had our teammates thinking outside the box. If we had just asked our team to clean their area and the common areas, I don’t think we would have had the same results – or as much fun!
I felt like I lost 10 pounds by purging old files (who wants the research that was done for our holiday party in 2009 – not me!). Plus, I’ve noticed that everyone around the office is making an effort to keep their space organized. I encourage you to take a day or even a couple of hours to spend on a project like this, you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make!
Associate Director, Projects and Event Planning
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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