Purge Parties are a Team Sport

For organizations focused on improving their productivity, there’s nothing like a purge party to get staff motivated. Not only do purge parties help staff manage their work space, but purge parties are especially useful for clearing outdated and useless office records.

By “purging” all unnecessary items, including records, from individual and shared workspaces, more space is acquired and essential items are kept and categorized for efficient retrieval.

The advantages to purge parties include the following:

  • Increased staff productivity by decreasing the search and retrieval time for items (i.e., fewer items to search means faster search times).
  • Elimination of duplicated records.
  • Minimized legal exposure—court cases demonstrate that records retained longer than needed typically hurt the organization.
  • Reduced storage costs both onsite and offsite.
  • More floor space is acquired in the office.

To conduct a purge party, convene an all-day staff meeting (or one-half-day, depending on the size of your office) and notify staff that there will be a purge party. Advise staff to wear comfortable clothing for the meeting. Let them know that donuts and coffee will be provided (it is a party, after all!).

At the meeting, go over the rules of the purge party and answer questions. This should take no more than 30 minutes. After this, with supplies on hand (e.g., boxes, masking tape, markers, packing tape, recycling boxes, etc.), each staff returns to their desk and starts purging.

Start purging where most documents land—on your desk! To help you start purging, consider the following:

  • If you are left-handed, locate items you need to reach regularly on your right (e.g., your telephone) and vice versa. Why? If you’re right-handed, you pick up the phone with your left hand, leaving your right hand free to take notes.
  • Which items do you use every day? Keep them on your desk.
  • Which items do you use at least once a week? Keep them in your desk drawer(s).
  • Which items do you use no more than once a month? Keep them in your filing cabinet (if records) or your book case (if books) or in a storage cabinet (other items).
  • Which items do you never/rarely use? Keep them in an archive or storage area as designated by your office or discard if the item has no value. Most “never/rarely use” items are discard items.

Once you’ve organized your desk, here are some “de-cluttering” guidelines to ensure you get maximum value from the purge.

  • Work clockwise around the room.
  • Start clean-up of visible surfaces first.
  • Divide your work into four quadrants (“piles”)—work on one quadrant at a time—first finish one pile before moving to the next one.

The best person to purge an office is the owner of the office. They are the most knowledgeable about what records, books, and other items are necessary for efficient workflow.

After a purge party of the physical office space, companies realize about 40% more space—space freed up when records, books, and other knickknacks are sorted or discarded.

Most people don’t realize how freeing a purge party can be for individuals and organizations. It is well worth the day to engage your employees in this team sport to not only increase morale, but efficiency and productivity going forward.

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