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Tip for a home office that is not private

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  • Tip for a home office that is not private

    One challenge I face in staying on top of things is that my home office space is not a private spot for me, as David recommends, but is shared with my wife and located in a room sometimes used as play space and a guest bedroom. Obviously, this is not ideal because there are times that I cannot use the desk effectively when I want to.

    The solution I have come up with is to think of my "desk" in portable or virtual terms so I can easily set up on the dining room table or at the public library, etc. when needed. I have a small compartmentalized plastic box (marketed to hold fishing tackle) that contains a variety of office supplies such as paper clips, small stapler, pen, post-it notes, stamps, letter opener, etc. This thing snaps shut securely and carries easily and allows me to instantly have a well-equipped desk on any flat surface. I also keep an empty briefcase handy with a few empty folders in it, a calculator and a pad of paper. I can drop any relevant files in there along with the box of supplies and go anywhere to work on a project. It is also handy to have one of those portable plastic file boxes around for when you need a lot of files with you, or as a cheap alternative to a briefcase. You could use one of the file boxes as a permanent home for project folders and tickler file and that would make it easier to make your weekly planning sessions mobile.

    My general reference file cabinet is the only important thing that can't be easily moved, so the main limitation is that I have to take relevant files out of it beforehand and return them along with any newly created ones the next time I can get to the filing cabinet. I also think that processing the in box is best done near the file cabinet, so I usually save that task for times when I can work at the main desk.

    Another solution I have considered is to get one of those self-contained desk armoirs and set it up as a private desk in some more exclusive location in my house such as the master bedroom. But there are space and cost considerations, as well as getting agreement on the decorative impact. And besides, I often work late at night or early in the morning when my wife is asleep, so the master bedroom would not be an ideal location anyway. The portable virtual desk concept seems best for now.

    Has anyone else found good solutions to this issue?

  • #2
    Good idea Barry! Now you've got me picturing myself GTDing in my hammock.


    • #3
      Wow that is perfect for me too. I'm in the exact same situation with the home office. The small tackle box is brilliant! I've been struggling with how to make my virtual desk. Right now I'm chucking everything into my backpack.


      • #4
        A friend of mine has her desk set up on an old-fashioned AV cart - like the ones in high school. File box on bottom - there is room for two - one working, one reference, laptop plugged in on top, supplies hanging in a kind-of saddlebag from one side (she might have gotten it from IKEA?) and in small trays on the smaller shelf.

        Most important: a long grounded extension cord wound around the bracket designed for that very purpose on the AV cart, and a large umbrella inserted into one of the legs. Important for wheeling the entire thing out onto the deck for every sunny day she can get.

        It really is a great portable office, in a very small space. On rainy days, it lives under the kitchen peninsula or moves to the dining room (minus the umbrella.)

        It might not pass the interior design standards test, but there might be more attractive options that are similar. Some even have locking compartments. Try a library supply company like Gaylord for similar stuff.



        • #5
          By the way, the fishing tackle box I use is very similar to this one:

          Link to tackle box

          It is about one inch thick and the size of 1/2 sheet of paper. It has moveable dividers. I paid about $2 for it at WalMart. I use a variety of them around the house for organizing small items like screws and nails in the workshop.
          Last edited by Barry; 07-13-2005, 12:30 PM.


          • #6
            Originally posted by DoubleDippin
            Good idea Barry! Now you've got me picturing myself GTDing in my hammock.

            I have one of those traveling inboxes from Levenger with some plastic folders inside setup similar to David's traveling folders. The inbox is basically a soft puoch with a zipper and inside pocket for pens, business cards, etc. I keep it ready to go by my desk in my home office so when the kids say "Mommy I want to go swimming today" I just pick it up and head out to the backyard. I'm getting a lot of work done - and a pretty decent tan, too.


            • #7
              don't get one of those armoires

              for a desk unless you like, really like, having a sense of being inside a closet. I use to enjoy working in such things, like a libarary carrel, but now I can't stand it. I would keep things as they are and maybe try to shift some of the activities that encroach into other areas of your living space. Can a guest stay in the living room? Can whoever is playing, play in kitchen if a small child or in own bedrm if an older one?


              • #8
                Get one of those armoires...

                Hi Barry,

                I am a new member, just started GTD last month and am not fully functioning yet, but the improvements have been great. I disagree with the previous comment, I think an armoire is a viable option.
                I had the same problem as you - no space of my own. My desk was set up in the "guest room", was horribly cramped, and basically unusable. Couple that with piles of paper everywhere, no organization whatsoever, and an old computer that would frustrate me, and basically I had no workspace. Many moons ago I attempted to share a computer and desk with my husband - ha!! I have never met anyone as posessive of "his" computer as him. I fully agree with David's statement that you need a space of your own - and I have made it a priority to try and get one. Needless to say, we now have 2 computers. I recently bought one of those armoire type things, put it in the living room, and used it as an excuse to get myself a nice flat panel monitor. I got it from IKEA, but there are much nicer ones out there if you're willing to spend the bucks. This is the link for it. (I hope it works)[/URL]
                The colour looks awful, but it also come in a nice tasteful "greige" colour, which is what I got. If fits a laptop or a regular computer with a flat panel monitor.
                Anyway, the point is: it looks like real furniture, it's pretty compact, you can get different styles to go with your decor (something that will be wife-approved!) you can close it and hide all your crap (big plus for me!) and you get your own space. Plus, if you know you only have so much space, it forces you to keep it fairly compact and organized. Since you've been working out of a briefcase, it probably won't be a problem for you!
                Oh, one last point. Do not, under any circumstance, put a workstation in your bedroom. Your instincts are correct. The bedroom should be for only two things - and neither requires a workstation!