Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Ideal Desk Space - Part 2: The Function

In creating my new work space, I want to merge three concepts - how the space feels, how it functions, and how it looks. I already moved my workspace to a spot that feels great.  I talked about that in Part 1

This post is about something I feel strongly about - function.  I am really drawn to organization and efficiency. I don't like things that are pretty, but don't function well.  In thinking about the function of my space, it's helpful to understand my organizing styles.  Of the two main styles, filers and pilers, I am a piler.  Here's how professional organizer, Hellen Buttigieg, explains both:

You are either a filer or a piler. Filers prefer to keep their papers upright, while pilers like to stack them. Pilers tend to have messier offices but claim they know exactly where everything is within the piles. On the other hand, filers tend to have neater looking offices but seem to accumulate more paperwork and access it less frequently than pilers. One type is no better than the other. Even though pilers may look messier, it doesn’t mean they are less organized or less productive than filers.  Click here for more of this article.

The problem I have with being a piler is that a messy look makes me uncomfortable.  I keep finding myself in circumstances where I have to pull together things that work, but have little control over how nice they look.  That has happened to me especially in my work life.  I plan to change that.  I am going to be a piler without the messy look.  It's a challenge I am looking forward to.

As a piler, I want everything I use regularly to be easily accessible.  My desk in our downstairs office is really pretty - a big, heavy, old oak desk.  Unfortunately, the drawers don't exactly glide easily.  They don't stick or jam, but they do require a bit of muscle to open.  That's annoying.  That's NOT easily accessible.

I want everything I need to be in easy reach. Over the years I have tried out a good many desk arrangements, both at home and work (I am a retired teacher).  The best arrangement for me is L-shaped. I don't want to get up and walk over to a shelf beside my desk.  Not because I'm lazy, but because it bugs me that it's not efficient.
Seriously Unattractive, but Functional

Now, don't get turned off here. This is not the finished look!  I worked with what I have on hand to experiment with function.  I pulled the table and shelves out of my storage space to create the L Shape I am after.
The table and shelf are not pretty, but they work decently.  Plus, they'll allow me to fine tune and eventually I'll find better pieces for the area.  By using these two pieces I have already figured out a few things.

The shelves I am using aren't quite working.  The top shelf is the primary shelf, but it's too high. I can't easily get to the things I need to be there. The third shelf would be a great height for my primary shelf, but it doesn't have enough room to easily get to the things I want to be there.  I'm thinking a hutch or wardrobe might work better.  Plus, it would be more attractive. 

The table could be just a little bit longer (wider). I could use a little bit more room on my left side. The depth is great. The height is perfect for me.  I don't want drawers.

Before I head out on my next thrifting expedition, I'll be sure to have measurements and wish lists in my notebook.

Now remember, I'm a piler.  I don't want things in drawers or cabinets.  I want the things I use to be out where I can see them and get to them quickly.  As you can see from the earlier photo, I put together an assortment of bins and cans and boxes and baskets and pots and containers.  They look awful together.  For now, it doesn't matter.  I'm just trying out different things to see what works best for each of the things I need to contain.  Only two things so far are keepers - the lamp (not cute, but wonderfully functional) and the wrought iron napkin holder. That piece looks cute and functions very well holding the three different envelope types I need. Everything else will eventually be replaced by something more functional and hopefully, much more attractive. 

Speaking of attractive... stay tuned for the next post in this series...  Part 3: The Look


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