You know how sometimes you see photos of an artist's workspace and it's just crammed with awesome layers, textures and colors? You feel like you could spend hours in there, uncovering treasures and magic? You feel like you're looking into their creative brain and it's amazing?
It's a great feeling.
But I have found I work best in a space that is the EXACT opposite of that. Never once in my life have I been staring at an "inspiration wall" and BOOM! Inspiration has struck. It took me a really long time to realize that I do my best work when...
I have space to work and think clearly.
One of my goals for 2015 was to turn my office into a more functional space. I wasn't sure what that would look like but I did know that my job has changed and it's time my office changed with it. As soon as MAKE29 wrapped up (last Thursday afternoon) I was ready for a fresh start.
The first thing I had to do was think seriously about my job these days.
What do I actually do?
When I am not at my computer (which is often) I use my office to :
- prep outgoing product (make, crop, sign, package)
- pack orders
- lay out (excessive amounts of) paper work
- style and take photos of product and projects (both in progress and finished)
- record how-to videos
- work on projects
So really, all I need for a functional office is a computer (check) and a TON of clear surface space (this is what I was lacking). (Sidenote, my office doubles as a guest room. When we have visitors, we blow up a big air mattress in the middle of the room - which is why there is no table or cart or something using that "extra" floorspace.)
I went through every drawer, cupboard and shelf and got rid of 40% of what I owned. I also moved about 10% of stuff (a few books and photo albums) into a hall closet. This alone made for a massive improvement. Getting rid of some stuff that I had held on for five years (and three moves!) was tricky but I applied that same mentality you're supposed to apply to clothes that no longer fit: "Let them go! If and when you're able to fit into them again, you'll want something more current anyway."
After the major clear out, it was a bit easier to breathe and resort what I actually have (and use!). I picked up some open wire containers (at Ikea and the Container Store) which I think are easier for storage than the boxes I was previously using (though all of those boxes are still being used in the cupboards/garage).
I added containers to my open closet shelving (from Ikea) which alone made a huge difference. That before and after is pretty sweet. I also picked up a few more shelves and was able to create space to hold large prints, large photo paper and some poster board (that I use for photo backdrops). I added one more shelf to the very top rung, giving me more usable space to store packing material.
I had to think seriously about how often I use my sewing machine (less than once a month) and moved it up into the shelf to free up more table space. The bins hold projects in process, promo pieces, art supplies I need to use up this year, yarn, packages to ship, fabric and Ellerie's toys (which she ignores in favor of the 700 better things in the room).
The table by the window used to hold my two printers and my sewing machine, leaving very little room for much else. I scooted the table over a foot (which provided me with better window light for photos/videos) and gave me a space to store my large format printer on top of an extra file cabinet (that holds paper, printer ink and shipping supplies).
Clearing up this space finally gave me room for my paper cutter (that was awkwardly stored on the counter top for the past six months even though I use it everyday).
And then the counter top! (You can read more about how my dad and I built that here.) It's cleared off almost completely and the birds (i.e. Taylor Swift) are singing again.
I sorted everything in those cabinets to make things easier to find and use. It holds mostly shipping supplies, product and a few craft supplies now.
I framed two of my favorite prints from the January edition. Those are just Ribba frames from Ikea which are a bit smaller than the 16x20 Sweet and 12x12 Choose but work well because they are matted. The white really lets the colors pop.
Last, I added a letter sorter (from the Container Store) to the wall next to my desk. I constantly have a stack of papers, mail and receipts. Now I have a wall of papers, mail and receipts. It's nice to have that off my desk, but still nearby.
Behind my computer is my editorial calendar, list of goals (monthly and yearly) and a big calendar from Sugar Paper for Target.
Paul and I still share the long desk (just a stained piece of wood on top of two filing cabinets) and it's working perfectly. The hanging plants are pothos plants and in these, that lamp is West Elm and our chairs are Keilhauer.
On the whole, these are subtle changes (nothing like the big office revamp I completed in November 2013) but it's amazing the difference it makes to just have all that empty tabletop. SPACE TO WORK! Space to film. Space to breath. Space to make new messes. Space to write the next chapter of my business story.
WHEW. Happy Friday. Happy (almost) February. Every February this blog gets kicked into high gear because it's birthday month. I've got a bunch to share in coming weeks.
Other posts you might enjoy:
- on motivation
- how I tackle huge projects.
- time spent consuming vs. creating.
- how I keep my daily tasks organized.
- why I set goals
- the difference between goals and to-do list items.
- tips for success with long-term projects
- more thoughts on "balance."
- creative books I always return to.