Jun 9, 2016

Removing Dead Space

A few weeks ago, the faculty at the Recurse Center did an "Admin" week.  The point of the week is to both give the current Recursers a spring break, as well as take some time as an organization to reflect on what we want to improve or make better for the organization as a whole.

There's a coat closet at RC.  As long as they've been in the new space, it's state is normally one of disarray -- game parts and lost jackets, mixed with broken coat hangers and discarded shoes.  I sit right next to the closet, its hulking presence of disarray a few feet away.

I spearheaded an effort to clear out the closet (which snowballed into also clearing out the network closet and the electronics set up in Turing).  We ordered shelves and organizing boxes a week before so that they'd arrive before the first day of admin week and we could use the entire time to assemble, sort, trash, and re-assemble the contents.

Here's a list of the things that we accomplished during admin week:
- Assembled 4 different shelves (:strong_arm:)
- Donated a carload of stuff to Goodwill & threw out about as much if not more
- Sorted and organized pens, pencils, and dry-erase markers
- Re-located the art supplies to Turing!
- Re-located the games to Turing!
- Found a new home for the Nintendo Wii next to the Apple ][
- Picked up and made a shelf for the monitor/laptop yoga blocks
- Set up a station for post-it notes, pens, dry-erase supplies, and staplers
- Moved the printer onto it's own table gave it some room to breathe
- Hung up a bunch of artwork and posters encountered around the space
- Set up a new storage area for monitors, keyboards & computer peripherals in Lovelace
- Cleaned out piles of junk from Babbage and Hopper
- Moved some personal storage space into Church and Babbage
- Re-arranged the tables in Church for better fung shui
- Put up the 7 desk dividers that Sonali got from some benevolent neighbors (4 in main room, 3 in Church).
- Put up a mail bin
- Hung up the EO1
- Put up IRL scheduling whiteboards on all the rooms
- "self documented" the space with lots of signs
- Painted the closet two (2!) different colors
- Organized the nametags into a box so they're easy to find (and the mess is self-contained)
- Cleaned up the debris from atop the beer fridge
- Organized the library!
- Hung up decorations found in the networking closet
- Folded and organized (by size!) all of the t-shirts
- Reorganized the electronics components in Turing
- Sorted and re-boxed various cables
- Relocated the coat hooks that had been in the coat closet and hanging up all of the ones found in a storage closet (unused)
- Re-organized basically everything in the networking closet, moving large amounts of it to the 'coat closet'

Impact:
- Increased available coat hanging space
- Freed up 15 plastic bins for Recurser's belongings
- Went from having no available storage space to extra space!
- Turned the closet into a usable workspace!

It's been 3 weeks now, and the space feels a lot more organized. I've been really surprised at how big a difference painting, and removing clutter makes.  The key to making it stick so far has been 1) providing more plastic bins for people to claim as their own for personal storage and 2) creating dedicated space for every type of 'thing'.  It's easier to avoid creating clutter (or at least combat it) when every thing has a dedicated space.

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