ASSOCIATES (vol. 8 no. 3, March 2002) - associates.ucr.edu
This is written in response to "Feng Shui or Your Way: How Does Your Office Space Motivate You?" by Carrie Phillips, in ASSOCIATES (v.8, no.2, November 2001).
Ashland Public Library
I love my workspace. I love my job. That may sound sappy, but I say it without hesitation. In honesty, last summer my husband and I were on vacation with some friends, driving from Ohio through Michigan to reach our destination. I leaned back in my seat, closed my eyes, and started daydreaming about the work that I had left behind. I made mental plans for an approach to organizing tasks upon my return to work. Then I sighed ever so slightly and quietly mused, "I love my job." My husband, barely hearing my words, leaned over next to me with a slight smile and said, "What?" Hummm, in that moment I had to decide how to respond. With a half-smile I offered, "IÖ. Love you John?" He said, "No. What did you really say?" (Slight pause) "I love my job." I replied with an apologetic grin. He just shook his head.
You see, this isnít the first time Iíve admitted loving my work, and he knows but he doesnít always understand. Sometimes we laugh about it, and he finds me fortunate to be able to devote my skill and time to employment that I find enjoyable.
The items that motivate me may only make sense to me. Someone else might see a stone on my desk and wonder why I have a rock sitting among my papers. They likely will not see a Petosky Stone from Michigan; one of the stones from our summer vacation. Every now and then I pick up that rock and Iím reminded of warm summer days near Lake Michigan. I also grin when I think about my apologetic confession about loving my job.
As I survey the items that surround me I realize that others can see what I see and still not know who I am, entirely, or why I have these things in my work area. I, alone, know the reasons why I choose to display this picture or that item in near proximity to my daily tasks. So, recently, I took it upon myself to have a little chat with my departmental coworkers about the article written by Carrie Phillips in the last issue of ASSOCIATES, and about my stuff. They listened with mild curiosity, surprise, and a nod now and then as I pointed to items and explained the story behind the item.
I have a paperweight that I use every day. It looks like a little doll, but it is really like a little bean bag filled with rice. I use this to hold a book open so that I can see information for cataloging. Attached to the dollís dress is a little heart with the word, "joy" and this reminds me to have enough joy in my life so that I can share some with others. It was a gift from a friend and it makes me grin. A similar item that sits on the shelf over my computer is a little bear. No more than five inches, this bear will fit easily into a jumper pocket and I can carry it around just for fun. Sound crazy? This bear reminds me that itís ok to laugh at myself, and itís okay to have fun at work. We all have days when the sun could be brighter, our moods could be lighter and our burdens need to be set on the shelf. This bear makes me smile on days like that.
I love pictures and I change the pictures in my workspace periodically. Some of my pictures have a personal meaning and I consider them visual prompts and character builders. When I am weary and stressed, I like to have pictures of water, forests, and mountains. I find these refreshing, and Iím reminded to stop, breathe, and focus on what is really important.
I have a special picture of a tree on a hilltop. The tree looks old, weathered, and has a large trunk. This is my reminder of enduring strength. When tension rises in our work environment, and when it seems that winds of adversity appear threatening, I remember this tree. It looks like a tree that has deep, deep roots and has stood the test of time and weather only to stand firm in harshest weather. This builds in my character a desire to be strong yet flexible.
(About that tensionÖ when all else fails, I have Silly Putty and bubbles in my desk drawer).
This winter IĎve enjoyed pictures of wolves. Although they are beautiful, the reason I post them in my work area is because of their language. Wolves communicate with each other in their own special language, whether verbal or in movement. This helps me to remember that others my not readily understand my language. Communication is such a vital key in organizational culture, yet many fail to realize that what we speak may not be what other people hear. We must learn how to effectively understand the meaning behind words and body language.
I have a fan that is used year-round. I find the soft hum comforting, but I also prefer working in a cool environment. So I keep it close and use it all the time. I find myself so fortunate in this. Some days I sit back and smile when I think about how pleasant it is to feel a gentle breeze, the click of a keyboard, a perfect cup of coffee and good music while I work. To add to the atmosphere Iím delighted to have resources in book form, software and via the Internet at hand. .
As I swivel my chair I see so much more that I could write about. Items that surround me do motivate me, but I have found that motivation begins inside. I must have the desire and the passion to do the work set before me and to do that work well. My motivators remind me to be the person on the job that I know I should be.
There is one item that held a predominant spot on my computer station for a season. That item has since been filed, though the message remains a part of who I am. It was a simple word printed and laminated, that I posted at eye level. The word was "Expect." In that season of time when life was difficult and my workload was overwhelming, this one word made a tremendous difference. This word prompt inspired and reminded me to look for the best and not the worst, to take one step at a time and move forward, and to not lose hope in my ability to meet the demands set before me. I found that this one word was a key element in my perspective. It reminded me to expect good things of myself and others.
Some may say that rocks, toys and bubbles have no place in work space. I tend to disagree. When the item enhances character, encourages the heart, enables higher standards and greater production levels, I have to think that those items belong in the workplace. Our personnel manual states that work stations should be kept in good order, and material left on desk tops should be neatly arranged. Thank you, Carrie Phillips for encouraging me stop and look at what surrounds me. Now I have to tidy up and put everything in its place.