Evolution of a Desk
In the previous post in this little mini-series on productivity, I said we need to find what works for us. Following are a few of the changes I've made to my workspace as my business(es) have grown and evolved. Our workspace is very important because it's what supports us while we do our work. If it's working against us, then it's wasting our time and energy thereby being much less productive than we could be. This first pic was taken August 2009. Quite a bit leads up to this photo. About 2 years prior to this, I got rid of the fantastic desk that had gotten me through college and beyond. I'd been in my job for 3 years and rarely worked from home. I always figured I'd have a job working for someone else and an office so I didn't see the need for a desk in my home. Everything I needed fit in that wicker trunk you see to the right so it became my "office."
Just a scant 6 months later I got a new job with no real "office" and was working from home.
After about a month or so of working off of the floor or at the dining table I went the quick, down, and dirty route and bought a cheap desk online. I didn't love it but it wasn't an eyesore and got the job done. I soon went to the Container Store and designed an Elfa desk. Over time, I bought the desk piece by piece. Here we are about a year later and I finally had all of my pieces put together. However, also in that time I unexpectedly lost my job 6 months after I got it - also known as the height of the economic collapse - and decided to start an event company instead of look for another job. I had NO idea what I was doing but was going to make it work, dammit.
Needless to say, as I piecemealed everything together and my business grew I didn't have a system to accommodate it. Enter our first picture:
Now I know that for many, this still looks OK. For me? Ohhhhh no. I was slowly starting to lose it. I was forgetting things, couldn't keep track or on top of pretty much anything. Serious issues when you're an event planner known for having a memory like a steel trap. I decided to rip it all apart and put it together in a way that would work. (Sound familiar?)
Which brings us to this after:
Once a system was in place, everything else has easily ebbed and flowed from this as my needs have changed.
The above was taken October 2009. Below was taken March 2010. As you can see not too much has changed. One big addition was opening up this organizing company while also having the event company. The biggest task my desk needed to accomplish was supporting both businesses. For the most part it did. The most obvious changes here are adding my diploma and race number up top, hanging the vision board, and hanging the clipboard that holds my intake forms so I am immediately ready when a new client calls.
Next up was little: changing up the cords. I HATE cords. This difference is tiny but the visual rewards are huge. More about this swap here. (March 2011)
Next thing was swapping out how I managed my files. The wire files were perfect when I was an event planner doing 80 events per year as they allowed me to see the majority of what I needed to work on. With the event company toasted and organizing client work being open-ended rather than deadline driven, I didn't need to see everything and could do things more compactly. I got stackable inboxes and separated them out by incoming, follow-up, current clients, and speaking engagements. (August 2011)
The nice thing about this switch was that I could do two small stacks and open up room in a different area of the desk. As you'll see in this next photo I brought in a small shelf for my monitor. Lifting the monitor gave me room on my desktop for the dry erase board that held my immediate to-do list and any files that were going to be worked on that day. The intake clipboard is still hanging on the wall and underneath it are wall files where I kept business ideas and to-dos.
Another big change is that I got rid of the rolling file cabinet. Files went into two desktop file boxes and then to the top shelf since it's not often I need to get into them. I then added a drawer to the Elfa set-up. Then that cord box?
It's *IN* the drawer!
I tucked it in the back and the cords thread out the backside. There's also been a switch in accessories from wooden to red. (August 2012)
Which brings us to current day. Mind you, I've flipped things around here and there but for the most part when something works I don't screw with it. The most notable updates from the last picture are swapping the magnetic bars for a full bulletin board. And the plastic wall files for nice metal ones. Their use also switched from holding business tasks to client info: inquiries on top, current on the bottom. With client files now on the wall I no longer needed all of the inboxes but did save one that I use as an actual inbox.
Then one of my favorite changes: I switched out the cable box in the drawer for an open box that now holds all of my electronics. Shredder, modem, power strip and cords are all in that box with wires run through the handle in the back. The front has a chalkboard so I switch that up every so often when I get bored or accidentally rub the design with my toe. (January 2015)
As I say oh-so-often, organizing isn't an end game result. You'll never be finished organizing. However as you can see here, once you get a good system in place then it's easy to make switches here and there as your needs or aesthetic changes.
Does your workspace support you and help you be more productive? If not, what can you do today to change that?