As I write this note, I am trying to look forward at my screen, though my peripheral vision is screaming at me to look instead at The Big Mess that is my desk. Piled to the left of me are stacks of books and planners, a slew of baby index cards, a pair of scissors, a headset, and cards for snail mail I want to send today. I daren’t glance right or look at the floor behind me if I want to get this written. Because I know the mess of stacks and piles and little droppings of stuff that is currently residing there.

I’ve been working from home (mostly) since 2003. But I know that many folks are new to this thanks to the Covid-19 challenges.

Welcome to the world of working at home, a tiny battle ground for productivity, devotion, precious focus, and real life.

From the time I was a little girl, I have been messy. No matter where I go, there are piles of things I leave behind: books and papers, my coffee cup, and that pair of shoes that suddenly got too hot. I have a wide variety of interests and responsibilities, so my brain hops from one topic to another, adding to what gets put down, usually so I can pick up something more appealing.

The reality of how my brain works is that sometimes I just need to spread everything out to sort through and find that next inspiration for whatever I want to work on.

Managing a business and a life sometimes require just that. To pull all the pieces, make a big mess, and rearrange them like a beautiful mosaic.

Your life is art and the canvas to create that life often begins in your home office. No matter if you have a corner, a closet, or a big beautiful room.

Yesterday, I started updating my canvas – my office – to set it up for what I desire to do in the year ahead. The previous arrangement of things, combined with the realities of real life, meant it wasn’t working as it was. Well, not only did things need to be re-ordered, the holidays and travel meant that there were extra piles of things needing new homes.

I pulled all the books out of my bookcase to dust the shelves, then replaced only those books that felt relevant. Some of my shelves are back to their tidy selves, but there is a small stack of tchotchkes and books that I haven’t made up my mind about yet.

This is when I sometimes start over:  do a brain dump, rearrange some furniture, and take a good look at what I am really using daily. thus all the baby index cards. I needed to work my traveling office of journals and planners and such back into my real office now that I’m home for at least the next three months.

They say that a messy desk is a sign of brilliance, and I hope that I fit that.

When I am honest with myself, I know that the only way to be more productive is to tidy up each mess so I can think.

I am also self-aware enough to know that first, I need the mess. I need to grant myself permission to spread out all my tools. To examine what is inspiring me. So that I can see it all.

Then, I put my world back together. I tidy up because that’s how I get my best work done.

Let’s be honest, though. For those of us not born with that Organized Gene, keeping on top of our clutter is always going to be something that takes conscious effort. I know that real life means that I mush my life full of events, books, and desires. Like an old canvas bag, sometimes it bursts out at the seams.

Curating a life that I love demands that I do this on occasion:  let a little clutter build until I find myself avoiding my office like the plague due to the mess and my inability to think in there. Then, I dive in.  Spending an hour here and thirty minutes there, chipping away at the project. Once it’s tidy and refreshed? My office serves as the place I can’t wait to retreat to. It supports me as I dream and scheme.

It’s part of my system to ensure that what I desire to do and create has a space to be nurtured and born into being.

This is the space Virginia Woolf reminds me that I need: a room of my own. It truly is a little love story, this office and me.

And in order to nurture that love story, day after week after month, it demands that I allow the mess to build. To throw paint and paper at my canvas of life. And then tidy it up to be a space in which I can love and dream and find delight.


Since it looks like many of use Don't let the disadvantages for working at home plague your biz! Join me for Home Office Editionwill be working from home for the foreseeable future now is the time to create your own Home Office Love Story. It’s not too late!

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2020 Course Dates:

  • Beginning Monday, August 31, 2020

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Course Investment: $21.

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Looking to read more practical tips for being more productive (and focused) when working at home? Click here!

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