Preparing for the new term

What I’d really like to do right now is relax in the garden with a good book, or go swimming, or to enjoy the best of both worlds by taking myself to an outdoor pool somewhere. I could do a couple of lengths to convince myself I’ve had a work-out, and then reward myself by soaking up the sun. Instead, I’m surrounded by boxes of files, bags of files, and files. Yes, it’s the annual spring-clean, and this year I’m throwing out all the documents that last year I thought I should keep, and which I haven’t looked at since. I will also put all the new documents I think I should keep into a special box, to make it easier to throw them out this time next year.

Bin itSo why do this, and why recommend this activity to others too, even – or especially – if what needs clearing is not an office but a classroom?

There are two reasons that a good clear-out is a good idea. First, there’s the practical reason that if you have less stuff, it’s often easier to find what you’re looking for at any given moment. Second, there’s the psychological feeling of unburdening oneself of past detritus. I tend to think more clearly when I’ve rid myself of tons of junk.

If you do decide to clear your classroom before the start of the summer term, I recommend a few measures.

First, be ruthless. That poster you’ve had for the past two years neatly folded in a drawer, put it in the recycling bin. It’s probably out of date now anyway.

Second, start at your normal time. If you roll in mid-morning, you’re bound to bump into colleagues arriving at that time. They will either want to regale you with stories about their new son/grandson/vacation on a South Sea island or ask you to lend them a hand taking 17 boxes of files to the skip in the playground. Then at 12:30 they’ll invite you to lunch, you’ll accept so as to not appear rude, and you’ll then go home having achieved nothing for yourself.

Third, plan to go in for half a day. In my experience, it’s more productive to go in for two half-days than one whole day. So, work like crazy till lunchtime, then enjoy the rest of the day off.

To be honest, it’s a complete pain however you do it, especially when the weather is beautiful. But once it’s done, it’s a good feeling.

Now, where did I put my swimming gear?