Here is a Best Practice to install manually before your install technology

by IdeaTransfer on May 22, 2011

You have to wonder, if processes aren’t working manually how can  they work better at the speed of light?  When you start looking at the manual systems in your firm, do you see them filled with unnecessary clutter?  So we developed a Best Practice to solve the clutter problem before you make it high tech.  We call it Deadwood Day.

Deadwood is the unneeded and unwanted stuff that gets in your way at work. Most people spend about 11 hours a week looking for manual information they can’t find easily.  Why waste so much of your time looking for documents in files and folders in large piles?

Deadwood Days are devoted to decisions about what is important now and what you can let go of.  Have clear start and end times, so no one drifts in and out.  Assign a Deadwood Director to manage the process with final authority for what is deadwood and what is not.  But make everyone commit to recognizing and eliminating clutter, and empower with guidelines that allow them to make the first cut.

Work with a partner and attack one partner’s work space in the morning and the other partner’s in the afternoon.  Each person has someone they can ask for a second opinion and each person can challenge the other person’s deadwood decisions.  Just as important, partnerships make the day focused, flexible, and fun.  Here are some guidelines, but add to them.


  • Start by taking everything off the top of your desk and start fresh and polished.
  • Add back to your desk top only the essentials like phone, computer and lights.
  • Clear out one drawer at a time. Replace only what is now required to do your job.
  • Start an action drawer with 31 day files, 12 monthly files and one pending file.
  • Assign one drawer for desk tools and toys.
  • Redecorate sparingly—don’t try to make everything special.
  • Send reading materials back to the sender or library for reference.
  • Keep one hard copy of your documents and back up computer files off-site as appropriate.
  • Like a librarian, create an index of your files and folders and their locations.


  • Break up the day with segments for group spaces where everyone participates.
  • Keep your sense of humor with your partners—no blame games.
  • Take clutter that belongs at home back home.


  • Dress as casually as appropriate.
  • Have refreshments and lunch ready and gather so that people can share their experiences.
  • Create prizes for the most interesting objects discovered, oldest photo, etc.
  • If possible, weigh or count the total amount of deadwood eliminated.
  • Set the next Deadwood Day.

Most of our clients have gone through at least one Deadwood Day.  Let us know how it worked and how you modified the guidelines.

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