I’m writing this while sitting at my kitchen table which faces the windows where I can see my backyard pine trees and the sun glinting off the new snow from the recent blizzard. I can see the birds zoom in and out from the feeders — watching them makes me think of the jets lined up at airport waiting for their runway space to land.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit of late about how I work. As I mentioned in my last post, The Art of Distraction, I’m moving my office back to my home. My home office is a third of the size of my current office that I rent, necessitating scaled down office furniture and much clearing out of clutter and other things I no longer need or use.
All of this change means I can build my dream office from scratch — and while it’s fun and exciting to think about paint colors and furniture, what’s really going through my head is this: How I work has changed. For the better.
What precipitated this change is my MacBook. I purchased my first one three years ago when my desktop PC got infected with malware — malware which took over my scanner, my printer, my browser, everything. I paid a lot of money to get my machine wiped clean but the malware came back. I was so frustrated and so tired that when I walked into the Apple Store with my son to buy his new MacBook (for which he diligently saved), I bought two — one for me, thank you!
To this day, my entire business is run off my 13″ MacBook Pro. Thanks to its portability and wifi, I found I could work anywhere — at my son’s fencing lessons, at Starbucks between meetings, and even better, while sitting on my bed.
Ooooohhhh, what luxury. Next to my bed are two windows with a large maple tree right outside. Soft white transparent curtains diffuse the sunlight. My bedroom is so peaceful and so beautiful that I found I was spending more hours there writing. (The last book I ghostwrote was written while sitting on my bed. I almost felt guilty the entire time — such decadence.)
Which brings me back to my new office and how I work. I finally realized that my real work — my creative work, the place where ideas develop — doesn’t happen when I’m sitting at my desk. It happens while I’m cooking. Or driving. Or pulling weeds. It happens while I’m lost in thought watching the birds or walking the dogs on brilliantly clear winter days.
Sometimes it takes a little while for ideas to develop. Sometimes they come to me unbidden or with a snap of insight.
And when they occur, I’m often not at my office. So, I find myself working at the kitchen counter. Or the table. Or on the couch in front of the fire. I wrote my entire Website while sitting on the back porch last spring listening to the birds, which is why my keyboard became covered in pollen dust.
This morning I woke up with a start at 5:00 AM with a solution to a problem I had been mulling over — and so, there I was in bed, with my laptop and notebook, putting my idea to work.
My new office, I realized, doesn’t need much. I need a printer and my phone and a desk on which to set my MacBook. I’ve decided my new office will be 100% clutter free the way my bedroom is and that my desk will be angled just so to catch the warm morning light. And, I’m going wireless — I’ll be able to print things from my couch or the kitchen or the back porch whether I’m on my Mac or my iPad.
The most profound thing I’ve learned in the last year is this: While my office is the place where DH Communications, the business, is located, and yes, I do want it to support me in my work, it’s not my office space per se that needs to be clutter-free and clean.
It’s my head — my brain — my mental space — that I need to guard and keep pristine and uncluttered. Because that is where I work.