Now I’m nearing the end of my desk improvement project, also known as “Last Chance Saloon”, I’m taking a look back to remind myself where I’ve come from.
I don’t really have any good photos of the my desk as it was before I started recording my changes, but this is how things stood at Christmas, and it definitely wasn’t working at that point. This photo does illustrate some significant problems I had in the first few months in this flat which, thinking back, were a legacy of the desk setup in my previous flat. I’ve always felt that having a home desk should involve having all the office equipment I use in one location. The solution I’ve finally come up with turns that on its head, but it’s taken a bit of lateral thinking.
I think many of us struggle with the whole electric cables and sockets conundrum when we look at doing much in the way of work at home. My photo shows an inelegant and unworkable solution – the tower socket sited where it has to be in order for everything to be plugged in, but in a position which makes it an eyesore. It took me long time to accept that I could improve things by decentralising my technology and I started with my printer. I find it crazy that whilst most technological advances are concerned with increasing power but decreasing footprint, each time I have upgraded my printer the footprint has increased. This thing is now bigger than an old VHS video recorder! Printers have moved from being things which would happily sit on your desk to needing a room to contain them. My favourite printer ever was the Canon IP90 Portable Printer. It printed fantastic photos and output full A4 size, but folded away and could sit on a shelf or go away in a desk. It was only increasing difficulty in obtaining ink cartridges that made me give it up and since I did it’s been all downhill. However, my current printer, an HP Envy 5030, is wireless and so it can live anywhere, it was only my old mindset which made me think it needed to be near my desk. Once I overcame my blinkers, I found a corner where it could be plugged into the mains without the cable being unsightly and I’ve suffered no inconvenience whatsoever from moving it away from the desk, even when using the scanner which I do a fair amount. Well, okay, there is some slight inconvenience in that I have to get up and down if I’m printing or scanning something that needs me to keep an eye on the paper, but I’m classifying that under ‘exercise’.
Similarly, I’ve found the shredder can live anywhere, it doesn’t need to be near the desk. One bugbear was the desk lamp. I like a desk lamp. I melt inside when I watch episodes of Kojak where all the office lights are off and there’s just a pool of lamplight on a desk. Where my desk was sited at Christmas, a lamp was essential because I was as far away from the window as possible and sitting with my back to it. Cosy, but restricting. Re-siting the desk to the position the Christmas tree was in, and the introduction of the shelf unit I covered in Phase 2 have made a world of difference. The shelves, in particular, are just wonderful. They feel like they have always been there which is always a good sign. Now I still have a lamp, but it isn’t taking up desk-space (although I hesitate to claim that the thing that is taking up the space instead – a mug printed with pictures of Avon and Blake from Blake’s 7 – has any increased practical value).
The scrappy desk tools and small stationery items are now neat and tidy in the right-hand cubby-hole of the desk. I’ve moved all duplicates and unopened stationery items into a storage box in my wardrobe for the time being so what is in the desk is just what I reach for regularly.
This is the main change I have made in Phase 3 which is why I’m not yet calling this project complete. I need a period of using the desk to determine what else I need, or want to surround myself with. I still have a feeling that I want more inspiration, something more decorative, without it becoming cluttered, and I am pondering what it is that is calling to me. The notice/inspiration board from my Christmas photo now lives in my bedroom and it works very well in there. I have wardrobe ideas on it, and inspirational old ladies, and lots of red shoes.
As far as the desk goes, for now I am content. It’s a place that makes me happy and where I have been sitting to work on my goals for the next seven months – a scary project that seems as much an act of imagination as the stories I write. I will update you as and when the desk evolves further.