If you have read my previous posts about reorganizing my closet or my bathroom, you might have already considered how much of an impact a space can have on your mental health. But what about a space that you spend several hours a day in? For you that might be home office/dining room that you’re trying to make the best of, or it might be your bedroom. For me, since I am not working remotely, that space is my office at work.
I spend about 40 hours in this space every week, but ever since I came back to work after everything happened with my parents, I had let it get out of control. Papers and junk filled the desk I used as a workspace and more papers littered my area around my computer and extra monitor on my other desk. There were also boxes of files I had gone through but not done anything with and other random things I was supposed find a home for after a co-worker and I had cleaned out an extra storage room in our office but then I never did anything with.
I felt that I couldn’t get anything done in the office, and maybe a lot of that was stress and anxiety and depression surrounding what had happened with my parents and then a whole new brand of anxiety and stress surrounding COVID-19, but I have to acknowledge that at least a little bit of that had to do with the space itself. I was not making it a place I wanted to be in, much less that I wanted to work in.
I think a part of me knew this. Nearly every week, I would think that I needed to straighten up my office, but somehow, it never really got done. Or, if I made some feeble attempt at it, within just a couple days it was back just like it was before. Even before everything happened with my parents, I had said for months that I wanted to rearrange the layout of my office and maybe even get a standing desk. But I made no move to make that happen.
But then, the week before I was set to go on vacation, something happened. That Monday when I walked in, I noticed a giant leak in the ceiling right above where I normally sat. Over the weekend, water had dripped onto my mouse and keyboard and continued to steadily drip for a yellowish brown spot on the ceiling. I told my boss, who called our landlord, but in the meantime, a few co-workers helped me move one of my desks over to the other side of the room. For the next week, I sat there with just my laptop. Where we had moved my desk was right in front of a window, and it brought great natural light in while I was working. I realized during that week that I really liked working in that spot, rather than in the lightless corner I had been in before.
I went on vacation the next week, while apparently the leak got worse, but was also repaired before I came back. When I got back, someone made the comment about helping me move my desk back whenever I wanted to, and I started thinking that I really didn’t want it to be moved back. I had loved the natural light coming in as I worked, and the new arrangement seemed to make so much more sense. I decided that I would work on catching up that first day, then straighten up my office, and maybe the next day I could get some help moving my other furniture over to where I now wanted it. So that’s what I did.
I cleaned and reorganized my office in a way it probably had not been in months, got some help from two guys in the office on moving my other desk and taking a big bulky hutch off of it, and also got their help swapping over my phone and computer and dual monitors. Once they were done, I rearranged my plants and other knick knacks, my chairs for guests and wiped everything off. The next day, I even decided to get a spare side table I had seen in an extra office upstairs and brought it down to go in between the chairs I have for guests (not that I really have any of those these days).
Over the next couple of days, there was a noticeable change in the way I worked. I felt much more productive and just generally much happier. I liked that I could easily look out the window directly to my right, and I liked that my office seemed to flow so much better.
This very week I hung up some pictures and plaques that I’ve been meaning to hang up in my office ever since I started, nearly a year ago now, along with a sign my sister brought by the other day that was the perfect gift. It says simply, “choose happy.” So I can always be reminded. So I don’t forget the power a space can have on your happiness. So I always choose happy.