Spring will soon be sprung, which means our thoughts will naturally turn to romance, gardening, and above all else, cleaning out our home offices (which really means junking all of the junk that we have amassed over the previous year).
Like bears layering on more fat or squirrels stockpiling nuts, home office workers are prone to collecting what can only safely be labeled as “stuff” at a rather frightening rate over the fall and winter months. Unlike bears or squirrels however, we rarely have any use for the items we have collected. So each spring, as predictable as the return of the robin, it is time for the annual spring ritual of the home office gutting (if, for no other reason, so we that can find a place to sit down again).
The yearly ritual typically begins some time in mid to late April, when our families can no longer locate us within the jungle-like confines of our office. After an exhaustive search involving hounds and police helicopters, we finally come to the sober realization that we have lost complete and utter control over our domain.
Once the difficult decision to clean house has been made, the first step in the long and arduous process of office renewal involves extensive thinking, reflection and pondering about what will actually be required to properly clean up the office. This period can last anywhere from two weeks to a month, and may involve lengthy periods of time staring out the window and playing solitaire on the computer.
Stage two involves moving items around within the office. This stage begins slowly—swapping a pencil for a pen, shifting folders to and fro or moving the wastebasket to a new location. Soon, however, we switch the location of the filing cabinets with each other, in the strange belief that somehow this will free up enough space to park a Buick. Affectionately referred to as “the-old-shuffling-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic maneuver”, this stage lasts upwards of two months, upon which time we realize everything has been returned back to its original position.
Stage three, also known as the “what the heck is this?” phase, involves picking up various pieces of office equipment, examining them closely from all angles, playing with their assorted buttons, and then turning to our spouse with a confused look on our face and asking “what the heck is this?” This period can last for up to a month, and is a time filled with frustration and remorse as we desperately try to recall why we had purchased such ridiculous office implements in the first place.
Stage four finds strange people lurking outside our homes. Although at first glance a garage sale seems to be a reasonable way to downsize our office junk, despair sets in when we learn that in the course of wandering around the neighborhood, we have returned home with more garage sale items than we unloaded, and, much to our dismay, discover that we have purchased several of our own items that we had sold only hours earlier.
Stage five involves the purchase of explosives and the desire to set things on fire. After an extensive review of our home insurance policy, however, we soon abandon stage five and move into stage six, which is really just a repeat of stage one involving more thinking, reflecting, and pondering.
Stage seven settles over us like a shadow some time in late autumn, when we realize that the only cleaning we have actually accomplished is the removal of a half-eaten eraser. And as the days get shorter, like a spawning salmon, instinct guides us back once again to the nearest office supply store, so that the cycle of home office life can begin once again.
Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.HumoratWork.com
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