Thursday, November 08, 2007

Office vibe - vicious circle

I think I've mentioned before that my office at the university really freaks me out. This is a first; I've historically been someone who likes to work in the office. But I've never been able to relax in my office here. Most of the time I spend there is near-hysterical; the way my days up there go is so crazy-busy that the actual place becomes tinged with the always-running, heart-racing way I tend to feel there.

Today, because I happened to have my camera in my bag, I took a picture of the desk area of my office (quality not great because lighting so dim):

Strewn with papers, and they're not in any kind of orderly piles - somehow this picture makes them look much more orderly than they actually are. Other surfaces in the office are similar - the top of my file cabinet, the shelf of the bookcase where I store my materials for current classes (nuclear holocaust, that shelf is right now) and even this week one of the chairs in there are all home to disheveled sheaves of unrelated stuff. Now I am usually a messer when I work - my home desk looks like this - even messier - and I am used to it and don't usually mind:

But the university office feels unmanageable. And so I've realized something about what's going on for me on campus. Since my days up there are so crazy, I have no time to properly do anything about the papers that accumulate. I don't have time to organize, nor to file. But of course, this adds up to chaos - and very rapidly, too. And so when I walk into the office, the feeling of anxiety is increased. It's a vicious circle that just leads to the magnification of my discomfort in that space!

One of my goals for next week (when I have a special day off from teaching) is to sort this out so that my office doesn't feel like a black hole anymore. I so hope this works - right now it's no fun to go in there, that's for sure. How do you feel about working in your office?


Anonymous said...

I think I can relate. A year ago I started at a new university and absolutely hated my office. I was just never comfortable in the physical space no matter how many times I rearranged or decorated with personal items. It was also in a very isolated part of the building and I didn't want to be there. Luckily the powers-that-be made adjustments so I could move closer to my colleagues and I now have an office that feels like a home. I even have space for my student team to come an work on our meeting days. Since the move I've rarely worked at home. The right space makes all the difference.


squadratomagico said...

I never, never work in my office: the only time I'm there is to meet students. It's an ugly little room with concrete walls, fluorescent lighting, and no operable window. I hate the fluorescent lighting, in particular (give me a headache!), so I rigged up a hanging paper lantern in a cool arabesque shape, from Ikea, a few years ago. I also brought in a rug, an armchair, and a small coffee table. Then I traded out my huge desk for one that is just large enough for the computer and a few pieces of paper. Now it's all lined with bookshelves and looks like a cozy little library with seating. Students love the homey feeling. And since I don't write there, the small desk is fine.

Marcelle Proust said...

I don't like my office. I've made it nicer, with a rug & stuff, but it gets messy because I'm bad about filing, and it doesn't get any sun, so I don't work there. It's for teaching prep and seeing students. Work happens at home, or in the library, or in coffee shops. Your office looks nice.

Hilaire said...

tresrose - That sounds so lovely. A space that really gets used like that!

Sq and Marcelle - Yes, I can't actually *write* anything (i.e. my own research) in there. What an awful thought. I try to do some prep, and my admin stuff. I have to be on campus 3 days a week - I'm trying to stay away from it for any more than that! In the January term it'll be four days a week - and I want to leave early on some of those days, so I can actually get some writing done.

Andrea Ann said...

I'm lucky. My office is in a converted dorm so it's quite large with a big window. I have a couch as well as two desks (in an L shape) and I too have lined the walls with bookshelves. I have also filled it with knicknacks from my field (film and vgaming)and photography (my hobby) and the thing that makes me most popular - a coffee station complete with coffeepot, espresso pot and when I am bucks up biscotti from office max. I am often in there 8-12 hours and it's not bad (students love it.) But I still get the dread to go in when things get crazy (sometimes the dread begins at the university gates) and by summer I can't stand to go in until about mid-July when the accumulated anxiety begins to wear off. (And to make matters worse - after months of us complaining - they have discovered dreadful mold and a company is in cleaning it this weekend. But I juat got the email saying mine wont be ready Monday because they had to take out the carpet and part of a wall. Wait...did I say I was lucky? )