Lately I decided I must have a functional, uncluttered space to work from home. This would mean reorganizing my personal “stuff” and paring it back to create a more serene work area. I decided to combine some home-related goals:
- Create a distinct work-from-home space
- Maintain a separate personal work space (for blogging, journaling, photos, art, etc.)
- Carve out a nook for a quiet reading area where I can get away from the rest of the family (!)
- Limit my personal belongings (other than clothes, jewellery and toiletries) to one room
For this, I have a room of my own, 11 by 11 feet (11 m²) plus a 5.5 by 2 foot closet (1 m² footprint). Rom and I each have a home office/hobby room crammed with all our personal stuff. I had overflow in the “rec room” which is primary used for exercise (elliptical machine and fitness DVDs). But a lot of stored items belonged to our adult child Link who left them when they first moved out. Link moved back home during the pandemic and this was a great impetus for doing a complete declutter.
First I removed all my personal items from the rec room and brought them to my home office. The result was a pile-up so bad, I had to carefully mask the mess from my Zoom meetings! Meanwhile, the movers arrived with Link’s belongings. Since Link is an artist, crafter and cosplayer, an immense amount of stuff arrived! We agreed Link would have the rec room for storage and a studio. So now each of us has their own activity room as well as a sleeping space! (Our house is quite small but has a lot of rooms).
With some considerable prodding, Link has started going through the boxes of stuff they left here the first time around. I am very happy it’s no longer my responsibility. I realize it’s my house and I could have thrown it all out, but we had plenty of space and it wasn’t an issue.
Since I’ve been working primarily from home since March 2020, one of my goals was to have a serene home office. Visual clutter impedes my ability to work. I was using a 30” x 60” work top, but I was storing a huge L-shaped desk from IKEA. I reassembled it and created separate desktop areas for home and work. I like it when I finish work and close my laptop and wheel my chair around to the home section! 😊 The home side has my PC and speakers, journaling supplies, projects, receipts and notes. I recently covered an old bulletin board with fabric and put it back into action.
There were 4 full bookcases in my office – 2 for me and 2 for Rom (overflow from his office!) A few months ago, I made Rom remove one of the bookcases to give me more room. Then, the other one collapsed under the weight of his old textbooks! I swear I didn’t orchestrate it, but now I have enough room for a wish-list space. Since Link moved back, I am never alone – Rom and Link are home 24/7 – so I decided I needed a reading nook in the office with a comfy chair. I will be able to close the door and read without listening to anyone else’s YouTube videos or music!
Rom’s book fallout was urgent, so I dealt with my books at the same time. I was about 50% more ruthless than the last clear-out. As a result, I was able to fit all my “day books” (combined work/personal journals for the past 30 years) AND my entire collection of 500+ music CDs on the bookshelves. We are Spotify subscribers but I can’t bear to trash my CDs yet. Strictly sentimental. The resale value is negligible.
Next I did the fun stuff: stationery, gift wrap, mailing supplies and craft supplies. I don’t sew or knit, so this wasn’t as taxing for me as it is for others! Collectibles were harder as I went through my children’s-book-related toys, old-time wooden toys, games and remaining building toys (after the big LEGO clear-out a few years ago).
It took me several weekends to go through electronics, checking old hard drives and flash drives. I even borrowed a floppy disk reader to see what was on the pile of old floppies in a desk drawer! (I saved a few old letters to my PC).
After all that was dealt with, I jokingly created a little “museum of vintage technology” at my office at the library (where I work when I’m not working from home) – I have since added a NES game to the collection!
I decided to throw away all my photo negatives. I have photo albums up to 2003 and digital photos thereafter. Someday I might scan the printed photos. If I scanned the negatives, I would have to weed out all the missed shots. I also got rid of 90% of my photo frames. The number of framed photos I have in the house now is just about right, so I know I won’t use more. Then, I reviewed my framed artwork and only kept a few pictures with personal meaning. Even those had been stored away for years, which is sad.
One of the bigger categories for decluttering was work files I had kept from past jobs. Recent jobs have been unlike the previous ones, so there’s not much material I can reuse. I kept an overview of my career. It made me think about what work-related items I might want to keep when I eventually retire. I know some retirees define themselves by their life’s work while others completely leave it behind. I expect I will be more in the former group since I like my work.
I had kept our family’s kitchen wall calendars for many years which showed our daily activities. After cross-checking a few weeks against my day books, I didn’t need both. I came up with a system for storing my mementos (from concerts, plays, travel, etc.) which I’ll describe in another post.
I went through the contents of my bedroom closet, night stand, and the dreaded Closet under the Stairs (a clean and dry but dark and dismal space). I was embarrassed by the number of boxes I kept from new products just because they were a Good Box. I also had three times as many canning jars as we need. No jam is planned!
While I could get rid of the existing furniture and replace it according to my whim, that is not going to happen. I kept the L-shaped desk, task chair, craft drawers, filing cabinets and 2 bookshelves. The only items I really need are a new task chair (the current one hasn’t been great for working long hours) and a new reading chair! It’s unlikely the closet will ever be used for clothes again, so I may install a racking system for all the stored boxes.
I estimate it will be 15 years before we downsize; in the meanwhile, I am happy to reuse what we have.
So now I have a functional room of my own. That should increase my productivity by 100%, I’m sure 😊
Do you have your own space at home? Do you like to retreat from the people you live with, or is it just me? (I like them, honest!)
PS – To anyone who follows the blog on Bloglovin, it appears that only every second post I write shows up there! This is not fixable on WordPress. Sorry!