In the summer of 1998, I had my very first Windows Vista computer and my own AOL account. I set it up at the end of our dining room table, dragged a twenty-foot phone cord from the living room over, and waited for the beep beep beep. By the time fall rolled around, we’d stored the fancy dining room table, installed a small desk in the corner, and created my first home office in a little corner. I began writing again. The last thing on my mind was the space’s congruency with my goals.
In the fall of 2003, I began my career as a serial entrepreneur and created my first company: Administrative-Pro to handle administrative consulting gigs. This evolved into Applied-Pro when my contracts morphed to mostly project management gigs in 2006. Then came my current business as a coach (and writer) in 2010.
It felt very cutting edge to have a home office that supported both my business and my dream of being a writer.
Though I’d had a desk from the time I was a teen, I’d never had my own little office in my home. If you were a lawyer or professor, having an office in your home in the year 2K wasn’t the norm.
Like my career, my office needs have morphed over the years. What I didn’t quite understand for a long time, though, was the need for a sense of congruency between what I desired in my work life and my space.
I never dreamed that almost two decades later, computers and the Internet would revolutionize the way we worked.
Now, you can work from anywhere, whether you are self-employed or part of a full-time corporation. The joy seems to be the ability to work from bed in your pajamas or wherever the whim may take you on any given day. I see little pockets of traveling offices in every Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, hotel lobby, or cafe with Free WiFi.
Yes, I have done my share of working from my living room couch or anyplace with a strong WiFi signal when I’m traveling. But the truth is, I am at my most productive when I am sitting in a proper chair at the desk in my home office.
I would start with the best of intentions. I would set up a small work space in my home: a desk with a bigger monitor and full sized keyboard that easily connected to my laptop. A drawer of files. A desk calendar of some sort. And, of course, a coaster for my coffee cup.
When I set up my office in our house in Ohio, I began with a small writing desk in a shared office with JB. He was gone during my work hours, so sharing didn’t seem like a big deal. Besides, I had a big window to gaze out and a comfy chair to work in.
Yet, I avoided my office like there were alligators in there.
I began lying to myself. Logical lies that I’m sure you tell yourself everyday, too.
I told myself that sitting at a desk was the opposite of freedom, one of my core values…and one of the biggest drivers of my serial entrepreneurship. My inner critic suggested I was a more inspired writer if I was comfy on my couch with my feet on the coffee table than I would be sitting at a desk. And who hasn’t romanticized the ability to work in a cafe with a cup of strong coffee at hand and others writing their own novel?
One of the biggest lies I told myself was that that being self-employed meant that I no longer HAD to be chained to an office.
Then I got down and dirty honest with myself: while I was able to produce good work no matter where I dragged my laptop, the quality was always better when I was sitting at my desk fully focused on my work.
The truth was: the congruency between my goals and my work habits didn’t line up.
How I approached my work was out of congruency with my values. The congruency between work space didn’t line up with those deeper dreams. There was a disconnect between my work space and what I really needed.
I talked things through with JB and he helped me begin the process of relocating my office in a space solely of my own. Within a few weeks, I’d ordered the desk I wanted and begin to pull things together in a way that suited my own work style while keeping in mind my business plans and goals. It came down, honestly, to congruency.
Setting up an office that would serve me was about being congruent in who I desire to be in the world and the kind of work I desire to create.
It was an act (and lesson) in choosing to honor myself, my business, and my dreams enough to look at my environment and see how it either supported me or didn’t.
For me, personally, I need a space that a minimum of distractions. I need a desk large enough to hold not just my computer and a desk calendar, but pens, my planner, a box of tissues, and two coasters. I also need enough space to push my keyboard aside and write in a paper journal. Practically, I need at least two drawers for files and a drawer for pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and lip gloss.
Congruency with my my soul’s needs went beyond the seemingly practical. I also need light, my books, places for candles, spots for flowers, and room enough to flop down on the floor and meditate.
I needed a space that supported my business as my coach and my soul work as a writer.
Yes, I love the freedom of unplugging and working on the deck on a beautiful day. I love that my business is mobile enough that I can work from a hotel when I travel with JB.
But I always need that space of my office to come back to.
That’s the question I would encourage you to ask yourself: is there congruency between my goals and my work space?
I know that we are different: who we are, the ins and outs of our businesses, and our goals. Yet, I can tell you that from working with hundreds of people around clutter, spaces, and productivity, if you do any kind of business – be it full time, part-time, or hobbyish: blogging, writing, selling jewelry, selling cosmetics, coaching, or more – having a home base of operations (aka your own office) that reflects who you desire to be and what you desire to accomplish is going to help you and your business.
It begins by claiming some space in your home: a corner of the dining room, a walk-in closet, the spare bedroom. And going in with the intention of matching your space to serve you and your business. This means that you may need to clear a little – or lot – of clutter in your home. It may mean shedding an entire room of furniture. It may mean clearing off a space you set up two years ago and making it work for you.
This is where congruency comes in: can I move towards my dreams in this space?
If you set big intentions, dreams, and goals, then you must be congruent with who you desire to be and what you desire to create. You also need systems and structure. While it seems like the opposite of freedom, structure actually helps. It’s a lesson in honoring yourself and your business enough to look at even the smallest elements in your life. To honestly see whether they are congruent with who you are, and more importantly, who you are becoming.
Your surroundings are like the soil you are planting your seeds. They can support your expansion, or keep you tied to old habits and patterns. Is your space in congruency with your deepest desires?
Do you want your office to clearly reflect your desires and serve your goals? Let me help you find your own sense of congruency.
What if I could help you make working from home more awesome than horrible?
Join me for:
Home Office Edition: Clearing Clutter & Creating Systems for Entrepreneurs and Others Who Office At Home.
I created the Home Office Edition to help you clear your physical spaces and create systems that fit your life and business.
And yes, we’ll also be diving into some tips and tricks for working from home when everyone – including the kids – are home, too.
2022 Course Dates:
- Beginning Monday, August 29, 2022
(The bonus: Lifetime Access (beginning in 2018). You’re in at no cost every time Home Office Edition runs in the future).
Course Investment: $21.Purchase the Online Course: Home Office Edition
Looking to read more practical tips for being more productive (and focused) when working at home? Click here!