Tackle a Mountain of Workplace Clutter Employing the “Mountain Method”

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Tackle a Mountain of Workplace Clutter Employing the “Mountain Method”

Most businesses experience times that are more hectic than others. How do your employees deal when the work piles up? Do busy times lead to disorganization and overwhelm? If your employees find themselves snowed under after a blizzard of work, here’s a strategy to help them dig themselves out. It comes from an unlikely source: parenting advice.

I recently read an article about helping children learn to clean their rooms. Titled, Help Your Kid Clean Their Room With the 'Mountain Method,' the author described her children’s propensity to “tidy up” by simply moving things around and stashing them out of sight. At a cursory glance, the room would appear clean, but upon inspection, it was obvious that the children’s solution to the mess was to relocate items to a less obvious place. Clearly, this method is ineffectual and leads to a general lack of order and organization. She decided that her children needed some guidance and support to help them tidy with purpose.

The Birth of the “Mountain Method” for Tidying

The author realized that an entire room littered with toys, clothing, art supplies and such proves overwhelming; it was difficult - if not impossible - for her children to conceive of the project at hand because it was literally scattered all over. Her solution? Pile all the displaced items in the middle of the room. She says, “Scraping everything into a “mountain” gave them a place to start and one single mess to deal with.” Nothing is lurking under furniture or in a corner. Everything is out in the open where it can be dealt with. Once the children could see all the things in one place, they could attack the items in the mountain one by one.

An important element to this tidying process is to have appropriate places available for the displaced items, such as bins, drawers, boxes or trash cans. Then, let the sorting begin! Each item should have a destination, even if that destination is to be given or thrown away. The author relates that at first, a big mountain of “stuff” can seem intimidating and, in and of itself, appear overwhelming. But fear not! Any overwhelm is soon replaced by a sense of satisfaction at the diminishing pile. Before long, everything is in its place and the room is truly tidy - not just rearranged without consideration. Once the children learned the procedure, subsequent cleaning sessions were less stressful and more efficient. It was even easier for them to find particular things, because everything had been put away where it belonged.

Implementing the “Mountain Method” for Your Workplace

It isn’t a far stretch to envision utilizing a similar method of tidying/organizing in your workplace. During those frenzied times when workers are extra-busy and a “mess” of some sort is created, a similar tidying strategy can be employed. Instead of toys, clothing and art supplies, your business’ displaced items could include files, equipment and supplies. Or, perhaps your workplace “mess” consists of projects, ideas and to-dos. In either case, the first step is to “sweep” everything out of the shadows so it can be addressed. You may have to assemble the troops by department to accomplish this cleaning up process. Have them bring to the “pile” the things they feel were thoughtlessly displaced, misplaced or that slid off into limbo during a busy time. Then together they can decide what needs to go where; placing each item in an appropriate place, e.g., a file cabinet, storage box, spreadsheet, vision board, memo, equipment closet - or the trash/recycling bin…

The result will be like hitting a reset button, returning to a time when business progressed at a calmer pace and it was easier to keep track of every contact, contract and construction helmet. And, as with the tidied child’s room, things can more easily be located or referenced when needed in the future. Additionally, you’ll experience the satisfaction of taking back control of your business’ equipment and/or processes. There’s a good deal of strength in that.

It’s only natural that there are times when your business experiences a rush of activity that leads to a disorganized “mess.” Rather than lettining the chaos pile upon itself or half-heartedly stashing things in an “out of sight, out of mind” status, employ the Mountain Method to tidy it up again. You’ll be rewarded with a smoother-running, more efficient workplace you’ll be proud of!

What would be in your business’ “mountain?”

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