Do you have a Pottery-Barn-perfect office?
Yeah, me neither. But I suuuuure did want one.
To be 100% honest, I yearned for an office like that.
I sighed over the high-end woods and metals…pined for the sassy classy textiles tossed just-so on the lounging sofa…longed for the vast empty desk space to whistle while I worked…and whined for an upholstered wall with lots of inspiration and very few work reminders.
And I did all that sighing, pining, longing, and whining while slumped at an undersized, overwhelmed particleboard IKEA desk—in a small bedroom with barely enough room for rolling back my chair, forget an extra piece of furniture just for lying around and throwing blankets on.
If there was a square inch of empty space on my desk, I would’ve had to move the 8-inch stacks of paper and a rainbow snowbank of Post-Its to find it.
And if I wanted to find inspiration, my four blank beige walls with a few wilted postcards pinned to them were not the place to look.
This was my reality.
But the fantasy…oooooh, the fantasy!
I daydreamed of Pottery Barn’s pictured perfect spaces, full of bright windows and matching folders and furniture not made of dust and glue. In my sleeping dreams I walked among tall cabinets with tiny drawers full of treasures and sat at a gleaming empty desk.
And whether asleep or awake, I thought: “If I had an office like that, I would have a real business. And until I have that, I’m not a real business person. Because this mess of mine ain’t what a real business looks like.”
And then I found the first flaw.
I was flipping through yet another catalog and deep into the sighing, pining, and whining when I realized that none of the computer monitors had cords. Or the CPUs. Or the laptops either.
But then, what would be the point of cords when there were no outlets to plug them into?
Sometimes this was absurdly obvious, like the desk that was coyly positioned in the middle of a room. It was a shining steel-and-glass island floating in a sea of polished wood floor…
…that I’d have to abandon for the kitchen counter in four hours when the laptop battery died.
And good thing their office had those big windows for general lighting, because there were only two task lamps for the entire room. And, hey, how can someone pick the right folder when they’re the same color and alllll the way on the other side of the room?
It went downhill from there.
I’d finally seen those dream offices for what they were: Dreams. And someone else’s dreams, to boot.
Because my ideal office would need all kinds of lighting to shine me through the wee morning hours when I do my best work. And why have furniture to hold folders when I could organize my files digitally and get rid of paper altogether?
And it’d be pretty important to have cords to plug in and outlets to plug them into, wouldn’t ya think?
Sheesh…how was anyone supposed to get any real work done in there?
In the end….
As you’d guess, my real office looks nothing like those dreams. In fact, it looks like nothing…period.
I have a laptop, a portable wireless connection, a notepad, and a pouch of pens. And when I want to travel really light, I exchange the laptop for an iPad.
And that’s all.
No desk, no chair…no office.
Instead, my office is where I make it. Sometimes it’s in a noisy plaza across town and sometimes in a cafe downtown. Sometimes it’s a quiet corner of my local sandwich shop and sometimes it’s the soft sunny corner of my couch.
The world is my office.
I never pictured that. And those catalogs didn’t either.
Please don’t compare and despair. The pictured perfect probably isn’t perfect for you! You’ll need more or less space, more or less light, more or less storage, more or less stuff.
Maybe you’ll discover you need a whole lot more. Maybe, like me, you’ll discover you need a whole lot less.
You’ll definitely need a way to plug stuff in
Don’t get me wrong, magazines and catalogs are great for ideas and inspiration, but only those. If you catch yourself sighing and longing and pining and whining, remember my opposite-of-office, chew on what would work best for you…
…and get real.