But here’s the rub: Unless you’re moving into a custom-built home, you have no choice about the physical space you have to work with. You have to get creative within the confines of your room.
During the summer months I live at two homes: Our permanent house in Phoenix, and our summer cabin in the woods at Munds Park, three hours away.
I spent some time walking through both homes this week, and looking at them with fresh eyes. I tried to just take everything in and simply observe. Then I asked myself: How does this home make you feel?
- Kitchen Table - Phoenix
I work on my laptop here a lot. A LOT. My son Ian hates this habit, because he Christmas-gifted me double monitors and a docking station upstairs in my office (where I’m supposed to be working). He nags me to clear off the kitchen table so we can eat there without my mess. I think he’s hurt that I don’t appreciate and use his gifts. Rightfully so.
Solution: Move your butt upstairs girl!
*Do a fall cleaning on the filing cabinets to make space for all of your working files.
*Clear the desk off completely and add a green plant. The cat will have room to lay beside you, and he will come because he’s glued to your work space.
* Put a dog treat or favorite bone in the dog crates (on opposite side of room, not shown in the photo). They’ll come too, especially if the windows and blinds are open so they can survey the back yard.
* Add a fan for better circulation, it gets hot in the afternoon.
* Add music, large water bottle, and healthy snacks. You won’t have to go downstairs as often.
2. Kitchen Table - Cabin
I have picked up the same bad habit of working at the kitchen table in the cabin also. Up there, it’s for a different reason: I love to be able to look out at the forest while I’m working. But it’s distracting, and so is the TV which Paul watches at the other side of the room. I have a combo office space here as well, but haven’t been using it.
First, we had to add a slide out tray for my keyboard because the built-in corner desk was too tall. And there’s not enough lighting. The entire room is dimly lit. The corner desk feels claustrophobic, and there is little actual desk space that’s usable.
Solution: Re-arrange the room and add lighting. Add a side section/credenza to the desk.
* The desk light we bought doesn’t cut it, so Paul is going to install an under-cabinet light that will shine down on the back of my desk without glaring in my eyes. I’m also adding a tall desk lamp in the wasted space at the back of the corner desk’s “pie” shape. I have a stacked file holder back there now, and a project calendar on the wall, but it’s too dark to see them.
*I’m going to re-arrange furniture and either move the sewing machine table or use it as a credenza. Also moving the huge clunky printer so it’s not wedged in right next to the desk. It blocks the light the desk could get from the double window.
*Add a small fan for air circulation.
*Leave blinds up in double windows, and install ceiling hangers to hang a plant in each window.
*Clean up and deodorize the breezeway room next to the office. Open the screen door and windows in breezeway for added airflow. Maybe even figure out how those two rooms can be used together for space in the summer (breezeway is too cold in the winter).
Once I’ve made these changes, the key will be to keep the areas organized, not let my work “spill out” into other spaces around the house.
Employees of Disney properties go through an extensive training at Disney University. One of the things they are taught: If you pass one tiny piece of paper on the ground without picking it up, you’re fired.
Disney has figured out two things. First, it takes less human resources to keep the park clean if it’s kept spotless from the get-go. And second, both employees and guests will take pride in the cleanliness code and help to enforce it. Think about it. Where are you more inclined to throw a gum wrapper—on totally clean grounds or somewhere where there’s trash already?
I think the same “code” will be true in my offices. If I leave unfinished, unorganized “stuff” lying around, it will grow exponentially until there’s chaos.
I’m adding a physical in-tray to each office. I’m also going to have a “Master To Do” list at each office, to keep me aware of the big picture, and not have to recall everything from memory. Actually, I do this list already, but I don’t keep it out on my desk, it just gets written and filed away. Usually I find it a year later when I’m making the next annual master list. <sigh>
No more! From my master “To Do” list (on my desk now!) I’m going to pull a daily chore list. (I also do this already, but on a much too ambitious scale. It ends up being a source of added stress since I never get everything crossed off in a day.)
Now I’m going to start by pulling 5 tasks I’m pretty certain I can get done. That will probably not be nearly everything I think I should get done in a given day, so it will be necessary to prioritize—and stay on task—ruthlessly.
Before I stop my work for the day and go into evening relaxation, I’ll review the day’s list, and finish what I didn’t accomplish. THEN, I’ll write the following day’s list of tasks. Then dinner and some relaxation time.
Because filing and shredding tends to be a task I despise and tend to fall behind on, I’m going to take a tip from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” best-seller. He suggests designating one day a week for those tidying-up tasks that may have slipped through the cracks. These chores will be in place of, not in addition to, your 5 daily tasks.
Since I’m going to have separate lists for work and personal, I think I’ll put “vacuum” and “clean toilets” on that designated day as well.
Sounds easy here. I doubt it will be. Controlling clutter—or rather, lack of control—has been a big stressor for me for years. Now that I have two homes to maintain, and a husband who refuses to hire help at either place, I’m constantly stressed about the messy state of my home(s). If these organizational changes actually help, I will be one happy writer!
If you have other tips for organizing your work space, or your life in general, I’d love to hear them. Please leave your comments here, or look for this blog post on my Facebook page (Sandy Wright) and comment there.
Blessed be. And may your home be a peaceful and productive space!