Now that the semester has ended (or might be making its way to the end for some of you). Once the papers have been marked and the grades turned in, the dust will begin to settle. Before that happens, taking a few hours to clean your office, your cubicle, or other workspace will go a long way towards smoothing the path next semester.
If your office is anything like mine, it gets cluttered over the course of the semester. Piles of exams, papers, articles, and photocopies managed to accumulate on my desk, and them they seem to somehow magically reproduce. Books and journals get misplaced, and the various receipts that I’ve saved since the last tax return need to be filed so that they don’t vanish into the void.
So I thought I’d share my end-of-the-semester cleaning ritual. Going back to work in the fall is much easier when you don’t have to walk into an office that looks like it has been hit by a tornado. Luckily, my office isn’t that big, so a thorough cleaning session can be tackled in an afternoon.
Put things away. Reshelf the books and journals. File the papers (If you are struggling with organizing your files, check out this post by fellow ProfHacker Nels Highberg.) Return the borrowed supplies, be they a stapler, three-hole punch, or scissors. Also, unless you’ve renewed them, it’s time to let the books return to their mothership, AKA the library.
Take home the washables. This is the time to run your coffee mugs through the dishwasher (instead of washing them in the bathroom sink), to take home that cardigan you have for the days you need to attend meetings in the coldest building on campus, etc.
Throw out the perishables. Unless you work in a biology lab, get rid of things that can spawn mold. You definitely don’t want to come back to rotten fruit and its attendant flies.
Clean. I keep some of those Clorox wipes in my desk, and usually once a month or so, I make it a point to clean off the desk, the keyboard, the telephone, and all of the other hard surfaces. I also dust off the bookshelves and file cabinets.
Delete. Also, now is the time to go through your inbox and delete old emails. I was lucky to avoid the “Your mailbox is over its size limit” message for the first couple of years, but lately, I’ve gotten the message a few times. I’m careful to save certain emails that involve department or college policies, emails from my dean, and emails from current students. I also try to save emails for about a semester (though I delete the one-liners pretty quickly unless they involve graded work). Filing your email as it comes can make this part easier and less time-intensive.
Organize. While we’re on the topic of electronic files, take a few minutes to organize your computer. Hopefully, you have been backing things up as you’ve gone along, but if not, now is a good time. Also, make sure things are in the right folders, and if they aren’t in folders yet, now’s a good time for that too.
Recycle. Keeping your institution’s policies for retaining student work in mind, now is the time to dispose of unclaimed portfolios and exams that have been sitting in your office waiting for the students to reclaim them. Also, now is the time to take those aluminum cans that have been building up into a pyramid to the recycle bin. Or if you are more of a plastic bottle type, recycle those too. Or see above re: washables if you have a reusable bottle or travel mug.
Do you have end of the semester rituals? Share them below in the comments section.