Work/Office Spaces

Everything I need, and nothing that I don't...beginning with the end in mind


I listen to many genres of music, but one of my favorites is country. For me, the lyrics are plain, sweet truths and often get to the heart of what matters. One that resonates with me is, "Homegrown," written by Niko Moon, Wyatt Brown, and Zachary Brown. The lyrics sing joyfully of having just what you "need and nothin' that you don't." I like that! 

What if you were to begin with the end in mind and expect to find joy with less stuff? Would you feel inspired to reevaluate your surroundings, home and office, and to consider letting go of what no longer fits into your current life?

What if I told you that having just what you need and truly want in your life opens up your spaces and redirects your energy toward what is important to you?

It is now the second month of the new year. What will you do with your space and time? How do you get to the place of joy with less?  

It is easy to become overwhelmed when you look at the big picture, especially if it has been a long time since you spent time organizing your home or office. I am going to give you a few guidelines  to help you stay focused on your goal with a manageable first step.

Clear your surfaces and open storage spaces.

A lot of unnecessary items congregate and fill up surfaces and open storage/shelves until they are overflowing and the room no longer functions in a way that pleases you. And let's be honest, facing the clutter and disarray is stressful, anxiety producing, and even shaming.

I have a client who didn't used to take the time to file or purge no longer relevant materials. He is a busy man, and his time is best spent doing what he does best.  The problem was that there was nowhere to sit in his office, and no surface for a notebook during meetings. This is not ideal when you have daily meetings with staff and colleagues. Keeping surfaces clear on a regular basis has made a huge difference in the function of his work space. 

Keeping surfaces clear for the work that needs to be done, whether it is peeling carrots for dinner or taking notes and brainstorming the next big project at work, is critical.

Before you start, grab 4 boxes or bins and label them…Trash, Donate, Recycle, Relocate

I find it helpful to begin at one end of a counter and then work clockwise through the room. That way I don’t jump around and miss something. 

Here are a few questions to ask as you touch each item.

            1. Is this item useful, relevant or important to me?

            2. Do I use it in this room?

Sounds obvious, but things have a way of migrating into other parts of our homes, offices, and lives. If it needs to stay in the room and has a designated place, put it away. If not, then put it in the Relocate box. If the answer is "NO" and it is no longer relevant or useful in your current life and does not have a purpose in the near future, it either goes into the trash, the recycle bin, or the donation bin. You decide.

Clearing your open spaces is a practical first step. You will be greeted by clear, calm spaces every time you enter the room which may be just the encouragement you need to look behind the closed doors.

Organizing Solutions

But that is a next step. And, we will get there, one thing at a time.


Office and Workspace...take a break, then finish strong

I have been immersed in my office off and on for a few weeks now so, I took a little break, treated myself to an iced tea and read for awhile. I also, spent 3 days watching my beautiful daughter dance, but more on that later.

Today there are files to sort, and a lovely roll top desk to sort through. Deciding which files to keep and which to shred is clear to me. Keep 7 years for tax purposes, keep business records longer, keep references that are still relevant. Yes, that means the textbooks from 1978 are probably obsolete and unless they bring you joy or amusement as a decoration, are taking up valuable real estate in your office.

I am looking at a stack of books, all pediatric references and still after all these years cannot part with Whaley and Wong's "Nursing Care of Infants and Children," after, dare I admit it, 33 years. Is it relevant? There are fundamentals that do not change, but honestly, my reason for keeping this book in sight is simple. This book makes me smile.

My own pediatric nursing knowledge base and experience began with this book but certainly doesn't end with it...a good thing to remember. As for the remaining books, references and fiction alike, I plan to read them, well at least some of them, then keep or share them in the next year. A book a week to read or review is 52 books in a year.

The less time I spend looking for things and cleaning around clutter, the more time I have for my secret passion for books. I see a win win situation beginning to bloom! I can tell you that Nora Robert's 2nd book in The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy is at the top of my list for May. I have a not so secret love for bed and breakfast inns. So a story describing the transformation of a beautiful old building complete with its own ghost is right up my alley! Is it May yet?!!

Last year, I made room for an old, soft arm chair where I can relax. It is covered with a lovely, washable quilt and ties together the eclectic color palette in this room. Even references and business related reading is more enjoyable when you are sitting in a comfy chair. Parker, my bichon, agrees with me and keeps me company from that very spot while I work.

An oversized desk, a work table and a big chair in a small space may sound a little too cozy for some people, but as the items that have no use in this room are removed space opens up for what I truly need. And, it is becoming a space that is working for me.

Work/Office might feel worse before it gets better

Remember Thing One and Thing Two from "The Cat In The Hat?" They wreaked absolute havoc. Or was it fun??! All your in your point of view, but in the end, the toys were put away and order was restored to the house.

Order has NOT been restored to my entire office yet, but I am taking a break tonight to relish the progress that I have made so far and to remind myself that it may feel worse before it gets better.

Why tackle this room? I am a Work At Home Mom and need a space dedicated solely to my work, a space that allows me to feel energized, productive, and creative. Lucky me! I have a 10 x 10 ft. room to call almost mine. And, since I really share it with my family, over time it has become stuffed with the overflow of unfinished projects and stuff that needed somewhere to land "for now" and then enjoying the coziness took up permanent residence.

Who knew so much could fit into such a tight little space?! I am discovering long-forgotten projects and am resetting my priorities, making lists and adding plans to my calendar so that I can stay focused on this space for now. Even though I am not half done with this room, I can see a glimmer of order and am encouraged by this. I feel inspired to use the room to full advantage.


Step 1. Remove items one section at a time to begin with a clean slate but not completely overwhelm. I cleared a counter in the hallway knowing that I was soon to be a temporary home to many unrelated things as I create my working office space. The hall that had looked so clean and zen has now morphed into a page from one of Dr. Seuss' stories!

Step 2. Remember to begin with the end in purpose and direction is to focus on recreating my work space in a way that makes sense to me and makes my work flow smoothly. For example, I want to reach into one place for business materials/projects, another for bills and financial materials, another for office/school supplies, another place for photography related items, and yet another for memorabilia, which I might add, will be sorted at a later date since it is such a huge task in and of itself and not to be rushed. There is more, but you get the idea. A place for everything and everything it its place.

Step 3. Sort working files and keep relevant files at arms reach. Everything else can be labeled and filed away. If you don't have a label maker, let me tell you, a label-maker is worth its weight in gold.

Step 4. Take a break when you become antsy! Yes, you heard me right...step away from the stuff and do something else for awhile. Something I have learned along the way, is that we become less effective and off balance when we don't take a break. Stepping away from work is good for the soul leaving us refreshed and reenergized, and, yes, ready to complete the work and in much less time. What's not to love about that?!