By Caroline Bujold
Four things I learned about myself while reorganizing my home office
One of our bedrooms has always been set up as an office that we didn’t really use much, yet it’s the space I have reorganized the most.
It started as a temporary solution. I had a few months left on a contract and was able to work from home. But then my contract got renewed. So the temporary solution had to become somewhat more permanent. And I was dreaming of a ‘‘grown-up’’ home office.
With my husband Dave’s help, we installed additional shelves in the closet for more storage, painted, bought furniture and organized it so we could both have a space to work.
REALIZATION 1 – I’m commitment-phobe when it comes to furniture. I don’t want to pay a tonne or be ‘‘locked-in’’. Therefore, I often favour stand-alone furniture as opposed to built-in, because I like the versatility of it.
However, no matter how we set the office, I realized that Dave never used it at night or during the weekend, preferring to just bring his laptop to the living room. So I was basically using half of the space available and had to deal with the visual clutter of his papers and other knick-knacks left on the desk. After making sure he really didn’t need or want that space, I started imagining ways to rearrange the space so I could use more of it and use the space more efficiently.
One of the things I like the most about my office, is that it is the warmest in the house as it’s pretty much the only one that gets direct sunlight; unfortunately, a bit too direct to be working in front of the window after lunch.
I liked the feel of this second try but it wasn’t efficient; too many awkward/unusable spaces and it was bugging me.
So on to try number 3. This time, before I moved anything, I made a plan and waited to have a whole weekend to really drill down.
REALIZATION 2 – I’m happy as a clam when I get to organize a project from A to Z. I can work on it all day long to be able to finish the project. But once I find the ‘‘right’’ solution for myself, then that is it. If a space makes me feel happy and relaxed when I come in, I stop.
This is now my lovely ‘‘new’’ home office.
It looks professional, I have more space to work with and I eliminated the awkward corners.
The only thing missing here is a lovely chaise in the corner. Once I find it, my office will feel complete.
REALIZATION 3 – Visual clutter gets to me … fast. Objects don’t need to be perfectly organized around me. It doesn’t even have to be cute, although sometimes that helps. But ‘‘stuff’’ does need a home. Even when I’m travelling with only the items in my 40-litre backpack, I tend to dedicate a space for each group of items.
Systemizing my world has been great for me. It’s the same concept as when you play a team sport. There are systems you use, drills to repeat over and over until they become automatic; just like making a pass to a teammate without having to look for her, because you know she will be there. It makes everything else flow.
And that’s why all the bookshelves are now facing the other way. They are not the first thing you see when you enter the room, which makes it feel more calming to me. No matter how much I tried, bookshelves always look ‘‘busy’’. So by having them at my back, it helps make the room look completely clear of clutter.
Ikea shelves on the wall (when you enter the room you only see the side of it).
Shelves behind the door – Use of closet space.
REALIZATION 4 – I am a fairly disciplined, focused person, but I also need to take time to recharge while I work.
People often tell me they think I work in my PJs all day. And they wonder how I don’t get distracted with laundry or watching TV.
Well, first off, I get dressed in the morning no differently than if I was going to work in any office. Second, I have a dedicated space in which to work and I have arranged it to my tastes. This lets me be professional, even if I don’t go to a corporate office every day. But that is MY set up. Others might work better from a coffee shop or in their yoga pants in front of the TV.
Do whatever makes YOU successful.
One thing I need to be better at though is finding ways to keep my energy levels up, without the interactions and motivating discussions one can have with colleagues.
I’ve been dabbling in guided meditation. I think this little space will be great for that and I found the perfect spot for our Moroccan carpet our nephew brought all the way back to Canada. Plus, 10-15 minutes is often all you need to re-energize.
Things to keep in mind while organizing:
- Organizing is a process. If plan A doesn’t do it for you, go on to plan B, plan C and so on.
- Declutter first; buy cute organizing tools later.
- Do what works for you.
There you have it. Let me know what you think. What you like; what you would have done differently in the comments below.