(3.5 Minute Read or Listen Below)
Have you ever thought "If I just had a bigger office, all my problems would be solved"? I have thought this many times.
The office of my dreams was a private, dedicated room with a real door. Desk surface as far as the eye could see. Walls lined with file cabinets and shelves. That was my ideal. I knew I could do anything if only my office looked like that.
But reality often presents us with a different set of circumstances. When it came time to create a home office in the 900-square foot, one-bedroom space I share with my husband, it forced me to see things through a new lens. We are happy and comfortable in our small home. It suits us well, and we enjoy the coziness of our space. But how could I possibly create a pleasant yet productive office within such a tiny footprint?
After considerable reflection, I determined I had to stick to the essentials and arrange them with purpose. So that is what I did. The result? An enjoyable, fully functional work-space contained in 10- square feet in the corner of our bedroom. It may not have endless desk space or walls lined with file cabinets and shelves, but it does have a real door!
Now, I do understand this arrangement may not work for everyone. But that is the beauty of personal productivity. We need to find what works for us. And while going through the process of creating this space, I learned something. When more surface area is available to me, I just find more ways to fill it up!
In a world that generally reveres bigger as more desirable, I have found incredible peace and focus in my smaller space. Because my surface area is limited, I am less inclined to have items out that don't require my immediate attention. My ability to focus on one thing at a time has increased significantly because fewer distractions surround me. In a completely unexpected way, the intentionality of my small space has liberated me.
So what brought me back to basics, and left my dream office a distant memory? The Magic Six™. As Barbara Hemphill reminds us, half of any job is using the right tool, and these six powerhouse elements are the core of a well-designed, streamlined SYSTEM (Saving You Space Time Energy Money).
It may be difficult to imagine how just six items can make such a difference, but they do. Let me pull back the curtain and reveal them!
In my tiny space, all of these tools are close at hand, resulting in minimal wasted effort. I've also customized my Magic Six™ in a way that works best for me:
All logistical elements aside, I just thoroughly love the space. My business colors are visible, and my bungee chair is incredibly comfortable. The window beside me provides an abundance of natural light and a momentary diversion between tasks.
But my absolute favorite part of the space is the watercolor painting above my desk.
My Grandmother painted it. She started painting when she entered retirement at 65. She never took a lesson, yet beautiful images effortlessly flowed from her brushes. As someone who struggles to make a stick-figure look like a stick-figure, I am in awe of her talent. In August 2015, she passed away at the age of 99. While going through her numerous paintings, this one, in particular, captured me. I had just officially started my business, and this picture was a perfect complement to its name - New Path. I smile and think of my Grandmother each time I am near my desk.
For me, it turned out it wasn't the square footage of the office or the size of the desk that mattered. It was how I prepared myself with the right tools and made the space my own. What I thought was my obstacle turned out to be my opportunity.
Do you feel like your small space is an obstacle? Perhaps it's an opportunity in disguise. I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.
I help established small business owners gain control of their time so they can increase productivity without sacrificing what matters most.