Monday, August 3, 2009

Reimagining your space

Do you ever have that lightning bolt moment when suddenly you see how things can be different? Now remember, I’m an organized sort so we’re talking more physical than existential here. But big sweeping physical change can be exciting too. It allows you to see your world in a different way, which then opens up the possibility for all kinds of things to happen. Maybe even existential things.

But rather than sitting around waiting for lightning to strike, look for opportunities to change the way you look at your space or relate to your environment:

  • Have your kids outgrown toys or play equipment and you just haven’t thought about storing everything in the basement or giving it away? Think about all of the floor and storage space you could reclaim!

  • Have a child who is going off to college next year? Start thinking about all of the fantastic ways to use this newly acquired square footage. Maybe it’s a painting studio, or a quiet space for meditation, or temperature controlled wine storage. Whatever you never thought you would have room for.

  • Think big: Instead of using that shed in the back yard to store the garden tools you don’t actually use or all of the boxes of stuff you really should just give away, consider getting rid of the structure itself and putting in the patio you always wanted.

    The key is to take a critical look at the space you inhabit and turn your knee-jerk reaction of “but it has always been that way” on its head.

    Recently, my lightning bolt moment occurred when I started really thinking about where I spend my working hours. As a consultant who works with clients either in their offices or homes, I don’t need a big formal space. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from my home office, but it was the “office” part that was giving me trouble. Before I spent my professional life in close proximity to my life life, the desk and laptop lived in an area carved out of the bedroom. As I transitioned from employee working in a cubicle to this consultant role, I found that I needed a separate space in order to be efficient when working as well as a way to turn off work that was more than simply closing the laptop. My solution was to make the large pass-through area I had used as a closet and storage space for six years into a home office with storage that’s a bit more hidden.

    Since having this brilliant idea I have slowly but surely implemented my transition plan. Being a professional organizer my natural inclination is to get it all done right away to the exclusion of all else, but I’m learning to appreciate that sometimes big change takes time. I've included below a few of the “before” photos to give you an idea of the scale of the shift in my thinking.

    Sometimes a project on a physically small scale can be the most challenging because it requires some real creativity. My new office is 6’ x 8’ with built-in shelves as well as an extra 2’ x 3’ bit of space tacked on to one end. Here it is in its previous incarnation as a closet:

    A second view:

    While perfectly functional as a work space, it was clear that this original configuration of desk and laptop wasn’t going to fit into the new office. My work area when it was still a part of the bedroom:

    It’s easy for us to get stuck in a rut where we only see our surroundings in one certain way and have a hard time picturing them as something else. I encourage you to take a look around and see where a small shift in your physical space might make for a big shift in perspective.

    Stay tuned for the transformation…
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