Together Tidy Time: A Primer

Dec 21, 2023

For my final blog post of 2023, I thought it might be helpful to introduce you all to a term we over here call Together Tidy Time. No, this does not involve picking up the various items strewn about my Four-Kid-Four-Cat Household (though the sword shield, lip gloss, hair curler, glitter glue and various water bottles everywhere could use a bit of tidying), but it is a Together Team trimesterly practice where we set aside a few hours for a bigger tidy-up when we close one season and prepare to open another. (Basically like a meta Meeting with Myself!) Our Together Tidy Time was inspired by both Aisha’s team Blackout Days and my former manager at Achievement First, who rightly insisted on quarterly clean up time to get the fridge cleaned out in our shared kitchen! Our goal here is really to restore our physical and digital workspaces, capture and process key learnings, and prep / codify activity for the future.

As we head into this week’s Together Tidy Time, here are a few tips we have found helpful (and we are always experimenting and evolving over here, so no hard and fast rules!):

  • Schedule Tidy Times for the entire year, at a cadence that works for your team. In our case, we function on trimesters to match the academic year, so we build in our Tidy Times in December, May, and August. We usually put a 2 – 4 hour hold on our calendars, and this often matches our occasional intersession, a 1 – 2 week teaching pause to refresh our instructional materials.
  • Share your goals for the time because accountability matters! Each member of our team inputs their Tidy Time goals in our team Google doc so that we can help hold each other to the task. Not in a mean way, of course, but you can bet I need Ana cheering me on to ensure I get my new laptop (yahhh!) set up and functioning. A standard December Tidy Time task of mine is posting my annual long-term calendar to feel really renewed and refreshed and ready for the coming year.
  • Make it celebratory and fun! For us, this is the equivalent of a full classroom clean up! We do love a dose of fun around here (case-in-point: as soon as I got back to in-person teaching, the door prizes were BACK!). For us at Together Central, this often looks like folks sharing pictures of shredded documents, cleaned-up Dropbox folders, and tidy workspaces.

Ana’s workspace is looking VERY tidy after some Tidy Time!

“Tidy Time helps me hold time to close out each trimester. It’s the energy boost I need to wrap up tasks, clean up digital files (and my desk!), and prepare for the upcoming months, with built in accountability buddies!” –Kendra
“I love Tidy Time because it helps me clean up unfinished business that I haven’t been able to get to, and allows me to start fresh and ready for the new year!” –Lauren
“Too often my days are filled with task after task, without a moment to pause and breathe. Tidy Time gives me the chance to step out of that pace and do some important projects that might never feel urgent enough to take care of in the day-to-day.” –Heidi

No need to over-engineer, but we know most people don’t naturally make or have time for Tidy Time, but we’ve found that by making it a team practice – and fun – it is easier for us to stick to it. So, happy end of 2023, happy opening of 2024, and may you all have some Tidy Time – even an hour – in your futures.