Friday, December 7, 2012

Not Quite Hemingway: The Office Tour

About two years ago, I wrote about my attempts to weed out my clothes closet, and I asked the question Is Organization Frugal?  I do think it is, and this time I wanted to share with you my attempts to clean out my office for its multiple purposes.
Bookshelves on the entry wall for work reference, and cube shelving for
Carrot Creations sewing/crocheting supplies.

Full disclosure:  my office had become a mess.  While I was running Hilltop Communications, working as a college administrator, starting Carrot Creations, and running a household, I operated on the "bag system."  Every job had a bag or rack or something, and I picked up what I needed to work.  But my work was growing less and less efficient, and it was time to do more with my time through the power of organization.  Once I quit the second shift job at the college, I thought the time was right to reorganize.

I have been taken with Ernest Hemingway's writing room in Key West since I toured it.  (And if you couldn't see that coming, given my love of Key West, you must be new here -- so welcome!)  Away from the main house and surrounded by vegetation, it was an ideal oasis.  His writing room, at least as it is now displayed for the public, features his typewriter in the middle at a table from which he could have viewed hunting trophies on the wall, books, and the magnificent view from the windows.  I really wanted something similar for myself.

Not hunting trophies, but the view of a few "wild animals" -- actually
stuffed animals from my father -- cheers me up considerably.
So the first task was surrounding myself with books.  I sorted through every single book in the office, and I sold about a box full.  But I was left with quite an amount!  (Do you know how many books you accumulate when you are both an academic and a writer?)  So, I did actually spend some money and replaced some old prefab office store shelves with these nice teal shelves with a narrower profile, and then I more or less lined parts of the room with them.  I can see from my desk where the reference book I need is for any project.

I also rededicated a pretty bookshelf I have to the Carrot Creations production efforts, along with a small desk and filing cabinet.  This allows me to work on these projects and wrap shipments without destroying my writing work.

The main workstation is well-lit and features a huge monitor -- a luxury.
My main desk is finally available for actual writing, although I will always have piles of projects around -- that's just the way I work.  But I am happy to say that I can look out one of my two windows, see the television and my stuffed animal "coworkers" and use my wide screen monitor in comfort.  I made sure I had good task lighting all around to cut down on the headaches.

Another luxury is the workspace desk, which includes a nice large blank space for me to write longhand (yes, dear children -- Palmer penmanship and all), edit hard copies, and conduct phone interviews.  Although I do keep a few things on this side of the office, I try to keep it fairly organized so that I'm not taking interview notes on my lap.  If you look closely, what was once a pull-out keyboard tray on that desk has been converted to a charging station for my laptops and AlphaSmart, so I can pull any of those out and go.

Workspace (project in progress in large red folder), "ego wall," and hidden
laptop charging shelf in view.
Finally, I do have a corner for my papasan lounge chair, affectionately known around here as the "narcolepsy chair" because of its ability to put anyone to sleep at any time.  More than once, I have been unable to sleep at night in my bed, but coming in to sit in the papasan has done the trick.  It is kind of a routine around here for Mr. FC&G and I -- if you wake up alone one morning (and didn't go to bed that way), start checking comfy chairs, couches, and the spare bedroom for the party who drifted overnight.

I am loving the peace and quiet of my office.  Not just the literal quiet, but the intellectual quiet that comes from organization.  Even if I get up at 5:30 in the morning (which has happened now and again) and decide to go to work, I have a space that doesn't jangle my nerves and which lets me be productive.  In fact, I think I am working faster and more efficiently than ever before.  It may not have a view of palm trees, but my take on a Hemingway office has turned out just fine!

A nice place to sit and read.

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  1. Having seen this in person must say this is a great tour. Tells the story of a good job of organizing which creates better efficiency. Good job. Dan

  2. Boy that was dumb, the comment was from DAD not Dan.