I love looking through the workspaces of other creatives and seeing not only where they work, but how they work; how their workspace inspires – or inhibits – their work. So when Sarah from WeWork, an innovative co-working community for creatives (check to see if there’s a WeWork office near you), contacted me awhile back to share my workspace with the creative community over at WeWork, I was all in. So. Here it is. My home “office”. Which is really just a small desk on a wall between two sets of windows that separate the dining room from the kitchen.
It’s not fancy in any sense of the word. It’s simple – maybe overly so for the taste of some – and allergic to clutter (but not to tiny dirty fingers and hands, as evidenced on the windows), which is why it’s relatively barren. But because right now the primary function of my workspace is to help me work my way through school – because right now the primary function of my workspace is learning and working, not creating – this overly plain and simplistic set-up works really well for me. This area is super tiny (just under 2′ x just over 4′, which puts it right around 8 square feet of space) but it sees a lot of action because (1) it’s in the middle of the kitchen, and (2) I am always doing homework. Or work work. Or blog-y stuff. But mostly homework.
The only real bummer about having a tiny workspace is not having room for a proper filing system. I’m not a fan of keeping stacks of paper, but there are things that need to be kept in their original state, and there are things that I need to reference later on down the road. Right now I use a small wooden Ikea box with DIY’d tabbed dividers (from card stock) as a makeshift solution. Ideally, I’d love to have a totally paperless system. One of those Mac-compatible hyper-minimal scanners is the dream. But they’re also out of my budget (remember, I’m BROKE), so for now this is the archaic system I’m using.
There used to be a mood board (of sorts) on the wall instead of those framed prints, and piles of projects all over the desk. But as soon as the semester began a couple months ago I took down everything that was there before to keep myself from becoming distracted.
The print on the left is a photo of the ocean that I pulled from Pinterest and printed on photo paper at Costco. It helps motivate me to keep my head in the game and to work hard – even when it gets really hard – so that one day I’ll have a view of the waves from my window instead of on my wall. I WANT TO LIVE AT THE BEACH, YOU GUYS. And I’m going to make it happen. Eventually. The other one – the “c’est bon” one – is also pulled from Pinterest (printed at Staples as an Engineer print) and is there to remind me that even when shit gets really real and super stressful, it’s all good.
The gold + glitter “HUSTLE” banner hanging above the posters is one I DIY’d. Find the tutorial here.
What I dislike most about this “office” of mine is also what makes it work for me. I hate not having a dedicated space with four walls and a door to work in. It drives me crazy, especially when I’m trying to teach myself a tough neuro concept or am trying studying for a big test or am writing a term paper. But having my “office” in the middle of the kitchen (literally) means (at least theoretically) that I have more opportunities to get homework (and Internet-y things) done. Being the parent of two children under the age of five who need near-constant attention during their waking hours means I have to be around to regulate. If my only option for working or homeworking (or Interneting) was to shut myself up in a separate room, I’d never get anything accomplished. Or maybe I would get everything accomplished all of the time, but then my house would be demolished by little unattended savages every second of every day.
The evenings and weekends are when having my workspace in the main part of the house is particularly distracting and frustrating, which is why most of my home working is done in the afternoons between getting home from work and picking up the kids (usually a 2-hour window), or really fucking early in the morning (think 3 am) or really fucking late at night (think 3 am).
I also really hate not having a legit desk chair. The cheap-o dining table chair I use now is broken in about four different places, and is incredibly uncomfortable. Something like this is my ideal (but not until I have a legit office that’s not in the kitchen, because I can only imagine how quickly that thing would get irreverisbly dirty from tiny little fingers…and then I would be distraught).
Working from the kitchen can be an especially big drag during the times that I do have time to do non-homework, creative things (like Project Life) because I don’t have a dedicated space to work on those projects. Instead, I have to keep my crafty supplies holed up in a corner of the room, and work on my projects at the dining room table. And that gets old real fast. Every time I serve the kids a meal or need the dining room table for other dining room table-y things (or just let the kids into the kitchen at all), I have to pack up all my project supplies and put them away. It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me. It’s annoying AS FUCK. And it’s a big reason why it takes me forever to finish creative projects. For creative stuff, space is the issue more so than time.
But having my workspace in the kitchen isn’t all – or even mostly – bad. There are a few big perks. For instance, weekend breakfasts tend to go really smoothly because the kids are able to sit on the counter and eat their breakfast while watching a show on the computer (no eating in the living room, and the TV can’t be seen from the dining room table) (the power of keeping the peace with toddlers first thing in the morning during the weekends should not be underestimated).
Also, I have more freedom when listening to lectures that press on for more than an hour. Instead of sitting at my desk and nodding off while a lecture plays on the computer, I can listen to it while cooking dinner, working on Project Life at the table, folding laundry in the living room, or doing practically anything else downstairs. I could probably even listen to it from the bathroom all the way over by the front door if I really wanted to.
And besides listening to/watching lectures while multitasking, I can also watch Netflix or listen to Pandora while cooking or Project Life-ing. Multitasking isn’t the most efficient or productive method by which to work, but sometimes it’s necessary. And having my “office” in the kitchen helps multitasking happen when it needs to.
Another motivational tool that I keep in plain sight: those two un-cut keys. One is a Redskins key (my team) and one is a Steelers key (Shannon’s team), and once I finally graduate college and become a real grown-up with a real grown-up job that pays me real grown-up money, those two keys are going to be cut to fit the front door lock to the house that Shannon and I buy together. Wherever the fuck it is, beach or not. She’s the ultimate, you guys. And living the American Dream with her is the end-goal.
Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with this space. I love the bright natural light that pours in on both sides of my desk. I love the added ambiance from the globe lights. I love the crispness of white paired with natural wood. I love the size of the desk and that is big enough to hold what I need but also small enough to discourage clutter.
My only real complaint about my “office” is that it’s in the kitchen. But being in the kitchen is also what makes it work – at least for right now – since I have young kids. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the flexibility having a giant computer in the kitchen allows for things like watching shows or movies while cooking. I’d really love a new chair at some point, something that’s actually meant to be sat in for long periods of time and doesn’t kill my back and tailbone after three minutes, and a digital filing system is the dream. But for now, I’m actually pretty happy with this space.
Except for the HUSTLE banner, which I DIY’d, everything on or above my desk came from Ikea, Target, or Home Goods. And really, the only thing from Home Goods is that white studded frame and the only things from Target are the globe lights and the unsightly, broken, uncomfortable chair that I managed to keep out of most of the photos. The rest of it is allllll Ikea. How original, right?
SHOP | desk (similar…the white + wood one has been discontinued I think) // black frame with mat // white frame // small wooden boxes (I don’t use the two smaller boxes; my makeshift filing system is stored in the larger box and I use the lid to house the assortment of shit directly under my monitor) // plant // woven planter // globe lights
NOTE | In keeping with my “keep it real”-ness in this space (the blog and my IRL workspace), these photos of my “office” were taken on multiple days at all different times of the day and night because I think it provides the most accurate representation of how I use my space, and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis. Sorry if the slight discrepancies bother you. #dealwithit