Somehow by this time of year my office starts to look like a bomb has hit it! It's probably because we do our annual fundraising gala at the beginning of March and that, as you all know, takes some putting together so it is easy to become slightly lackadaisical about where stuff is put. I know that it drives me slightly crazy when I am unable to find a piece of paper that I need at that precise moment. I have found that taking the time in the middle of your season to de-clutter and reorganize just about everything in the business is extremely helpful. Apart from cleaning my own desk and discovering hidden treasures underneath mounds of paper, I like to start with my front desk and work through every drawer and cupboard and have my front desk staff go through all of our current files just to double check that everything is in order. I like them to check every registration and match it to the computer to make sure that there are no discrepancies. Inevitably they do find a few errors here and there but it makes it much easier to correct, especially if it is an error concerning payment or perhaps someone who has not paid when they said they would, it is helpful to find out in the middle of the season so that everything can be cleared up before your season comes to an end
Often things get mislaid and this is especially true if you have more than one person running your front desk and office. Obviously going through everything is time consuming but it does not have to be accomplished in one day or even one week. Decide what areas need the most attention and then assign who is going to take care of which areas and issues. Plan a day to get everything started and then go for it.
Any of the office supply stores have a number of excellent systems to help keep offices in order and I would recommend that you either visit one of these stores or go online to find new ways to store items and file them. It is also very helpful to use systems such as "Neat Desk" which lets you scan all of your documents and get rid of most of the paper work cluttering up your office. This is a great time to check on all of your office supplies and make sure that you have enough spare items on hand. There is nothing worse than running out of vital products at inopportune moments!
Kids bring clutter and if you don't keep a check it is very easy for the entire studio to start looking like a dumping ground. If you provide a dressing room for the students making specific areas where lost property can be placed is helpful, so that when a mother comes in looking for her child's ballet shoes you will be able to direct them to the exact place to look for them. In our dressing room we have lockers for our company members and cubbies for the rest of the students. It helps to keep all the bags off the floor and periodically we will go in there when there are no students and clear the cubbies of anything that is left behind, then we will put a table in the lobby with those items on it and whatever is not reclaimed by the end of the week will go to Goodwill or some other charitable organization. It really is amazing what students will leave behind and more amazing still the fact that some parents never investigate and let them leave brand new coats, shoes, dancewear and even watches at the studio. De-cluttering the dressing rooms is something that we need to do at least three times a year!
Dance Studios also can easily become cluttered, although it is much easier now with IPods to have at least, less musical clutter. Years ago we had cassette tapes and then CDs and it was more difficult to keep them in order. There are times when we still use CDs and we put them in CD holders for the appropriate style of music. This makes them so much easier to find. Invariably students will leave their shoes or notebooks or hairnets etc when they leave class so any of those items go right into our lost property box.
If you have a lobby or waiting area for parents it is a good idea also to freshen up the décor from time to time so that it is always a welcoming place to anyone passing through your door. We also have an area adjacent to the lobby where students can do their homework or have something to eat. Part of our de-cluttering of that area is assigning senior students to make sure that food and drinks are thrown away. If they are held responsible there is a good chance that they will make sure the students clean up after themselves and it will remain uncluttered.
Of course, de-cluttering is also known as spring cleaning but I like to reorganize and get everything in order before the spring so that when the beautiful days arrive I will have more time to get out and enjoy them. Just being able to see clear spaces helps to keep my mind clear and gives me the incentive to work on new projects.