The conventional home office wasn’t working for me. I tried to make our finished basement space become my office because it just made sense with the floor plan of the house. It was a quiet space where the kids wouldn’t bother me. In the process, I discovered that I really LOVE looking out the window as I work (no windows down there) and that I need LOTS of light to stay focused (not enough light down there) and that I like to refill my coffee OFTEN which then leads to bathroom breaks (no bathroom down there) so I was coming upstairs frequently and I didn’t enjoy my time in my “office.”
Going down the stairs to that space felt like being sent to my room as a child. It was just not inspiring me to do my best work. In fact, most of the people I know who have home offices use them as a dumping ground for papers or a place to put their printer. The real work gets done at the dining room table or on the couch or even sitting on the floor (yes, I’m talking about myself here). So rather than trying to force yourself into someone else’s mold of what the perfect office should be, just embrace the space where you work and make your office portable.
I like to have a large work surface so I sit on the floor with my coffee table as my desk. Working here helps me to keep my coffee table clear of the miscellaneous kids clutter that develops all week. I use a small caddy to house my office supplies- any bag with pockets will do here. In my office caddy I have some fun pens, a paper trimmer, a couple of clip boards, highlighters, sharpies, chapstick, a hole punch, washi tape, post-its, and a small container holding my mini stapler, staples, and paper clips. I also always have my laptop or tablet, my bullet journal, and any client files or projects I may be working on (I try to keep these digitally). For me, these are the essentials of my office.
Aside from my portable office caddy, I do have one shelf that I dedicate to reference books and binders that I keep for my business. It is a small shelf near the coffee table. So even though I generally work in the same space each time, my office can easily be tossed in the car and relocated to the local coffee shop.
Of course, there are downsides to my portable office. I don’t have a massive vision board or framed inspirational quotes. I don’t have notes on a white board. In the future, I may add a small portable vision board to my office space, as well as an idea/task board for all my random notes and ideas. It’s a trade off. The silver lining here is that I am forced to clean up at the end of my work day. This tends to make me plan my next steps in a project and results in increased productivity. And I can’t leave my “office” a mess because my kids will get into it. By working this way, I am forcing myself to develop and maintain good habits.
I still have the desk downstairs if I need to work when my kids are awake and running around. But I prefer this. True productivity is an exercise in self awareness. Learning what you need in order to do your best work is essential. For me, I really don’t want to work from home unless I can look outside at the changing leaves and watch the snow fall. And I don’t want to read a book or listen to a podcast unless I’m comfortable and under a cozy blanket. So this is not just a compromise- it’s how I bring the joy into my work.
How do you work from home? I’d love to hear about it. And if you need help with your office, contact me. I’d love to help you bring some joy back to your space.