Becoming Your Workspace

A number of years ago—back in my Big Apple days—a close friend of mine went through a major feng shui phase. He talked a lot at the time about space, balance, and a number of other spiritual and aesthetic points I remember very little of now. But there was one thing he said then that has stuck with me all these years, and that is that the state of our personal environment reflects the state of our minds. Though at the time he was mainly referring to orderliness (Have a spotless living room alongside a secret closet full of junk? He’s got your number!), I’ve always felt that this extends to matters of personal taste as well, like warmth, sparseness, or even just our choice of possessions to display or keep handy.

OF course, I find that the state of my surroundings can deeply influence my state of mind as well—especially when those surroundings are my workspace. If I’m feeling confused or overwhelmed, cleaning out my desk can work wonders. Similarly, a bit of reorganization (or even better, full-out rearrangement) can work me out of a mental rut.

I’ve been freelancing from my home office for quite some time, and now that my primary job is largely taking place at home as well, the state of my personal workspace has become more important than ever. And thus now (more than ever), I work to maintain the state of mind that my workspace reflects.

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Friendly, but organized; whimsical, but focused; warm; well-rounded; mobile; technologically savvy—these are just a few things that spring to mind when I look at my workspace.

They are reflections of me, of that there’s no doubt, but they are also the best me. They are the “me” I strive to bring with me to work every day, which is harder some days than others. Reference books (from The Elements of Style to Manga: The Complete Guide), music (as much as my iPod can hold), comics, figurines (Battlestar Galactica meets Harry Potter), stuffed animals, mobile devices, database software, favorite lamps, caffeine, dog treats, even lip balm—some are items I’ve grown up with, toured with, or just picked up last week.

Together, these things reflect the parts of my background and my present daily life that keep me fresh and ready to move, always with something new to bring to the table. They are mental touchstones, here to remind me who I am when my inner world is feeling cluttered. And on tough days, I can take inspiration and comfort from these things just as they have been assembled and nurtured by me.

What does the state of your workspace reflect, and how do you reflect it back?

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