Not-So-Extreme Home Makeover

Although I’m still all wrapped up in my summer teaching, it’s about time for a reckoning with regards to the fall semester. That shit is fast approaching! I want to be able to make the most of my time next semester, when I’ll only be teaching two days a week and will have the other three work-week days to do prep, research, grading, and other business. Which I can do from home. That’s right; I’ll be able to work from home three days a week!

This was a bit of an unexpected boon — I’ve been wanting this schedule forever but never thought I would get it. I usually teach three days a week and I had thought I was going to do five days a week this fall. Due to some scheduling and registration mishaps, I got the coveted Tuesday-Thursday schedule of my dreams at the very last minute!

My office at home, where I hope for much of the awesome productivity, writing, and such to occur? Well, it has been sorely neglected for the last couple of years. I almost never work in here at all, and only really come into the room to feed the cat (her food is in here, where the dog is not usually allowed to go because they usually harass each other), to fetch a book, or to dump mail, exercise equipment, and other unwanted detritus.

The room was a disaster. I don’t know how many pieces of old mail and paperwork are in here, but even just the amount on the desk took ages to go through, sort, shred, file, and so on. There are still two small boxes of mail I need to handle.

Office Before: Piles of Junk on Desk

The area by my bookshelves was a random dumping ground for nonsense, as you can see here.

Office Before: Cluttered Shelves

I definitely had my work cut out for me. I headed out to Walmart, where I usually do not shop, for cheap file boxes and a paper shredder. It’s much closer and a bit cheaper than Target, but readers, I ask you, is that worth the pain of being in Walmart? First, I had to listen to an angry dad yelling at and berating his maybe three-year-old crying son over why he wouldn’t buy him something. It went a little something like, “YOU GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON — ONE GOOD REASON! — WHY I SHOULD BUY YOU THAT. CAN YOU? CAN YOU GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON? I DON’T THINK YOU CAN. EXPLAIN IT TO ME. ONE GOOD REASON.” In response to which the boy just whimpered. Nice job, Angry Dad. Nice. I’m sure that’s an effective communication technique for barely-verbal toddlers.

Then, after paying, I had to wait in a second line of about six shopping carts at the exit. Why? Well, a very officious, bitchy woman was working the exit door, checking everyone’s receipt before they could leave the store. That’s right; in the fifteen yards between the cash registers and the doors, surely we had all managed to steal some of their valuable merchandise. Is this shit even LEGAL, I wonder?

Well, I have gone off topic here, but that all needed to be said, if only for my own sanity.

So, after all that I came home and started tackling the office. I managed to clear off the desk and finally hang a white board and some cork boards (those are actually cork trivets from the kitchen section at IKEA only a couple of dollars per three-pack).

[212/365] Office After: Clean Desk

Don’t worry, after I took the picture and saw how crooked the white board was, I re-hung it. I tend to just eyeball those things instead of using a level, which sometimes works and sometimes does not.

I also neatened up the shelf area:

Office After: Shelves

Also, after the picture, I realized I still had some things cluttering the top of the shelves, so I took care of those, too. The white shoe boxes on the short shelf are full of MORE MAIL to sort. Good lord, I hate mail. (And before everyone suggests it, yes, I do have everything possible handled online instead of through paper billing. That makes a dent, but not a big enough dent, you know?) But now I have a paper shredder and a better filing system, so that should help matters.

I’d still like to make a few improvements: I’d like a regular desk instead of the door-balanced-on-two-cabinets thing I currently have going on. The cabinets are about 3 inches too tall for this to work perfectly, but with the addition of a new, taller desk chair from my friend MZ, it’s a bit more comfortable. Then, I’d like my bookcases to match and be of better quality, which is something I don’t see spending money on in the near future, so I will live with what I have. Finally, the couch (whose corner you can see above) needs to go. It has been a bit shredded by the cat and I am constantly having to manage the cat-fur(niture) situation and it’s a giant nuisance.

Otherwise, I am quite happy with the newly organized office! I have put my laptop here as its regular home, and will only carry it out to the couch/coffee table for, say, watching movies on Netflix Instant Play. I like the idea of keeping the computer in the office and having the living room be mostly computer-free.

What this means is that I’ve been hanging out in the office a lot more already, and the dog has been following me in here, and the cat has been allowing the dog into “her” space, for the most part, and everyone seems to be happy.

Happy Camper

Good start. I just have to keep the room neat and functional throughout the semester, and I should have a great set-up for working at home three days a week. Now, let’s hope I can resist the lure of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and online shopping while I’m here!


  1. Having a home office you actually like spending time in makes a huge difference when you’re planning to work from home. I can truly say I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when I stopped doing a bunch of my work from the couch — the couch is for watching TV and movies and drinking wine and cuddling and talking on the phone and maybe taking naps sometimes. NOT for working. It’s nice to have the distinction, is all I’m trying to say.


  2. Oh, I so agree! A while back I had to impose a ban on schoolwork/workwork in the bedroom. I used to think I could just lie down with my course reading and at one point I even took student papers in there to grade in bed. Bad idea. The bedroom should be a happy place! Having space distinctions definitely helps, so I am trying to apply that everywhere.


  3. OMG, the jealous.
    I recently started a work from home gig, and I work from our kitchen table. It is not ideal, but it’s all we’ve got. I so badly want bookshelves and file cabinets and a desk, OMG.
    I love my house SO much, but it lacks as a home office. Totally jealous of your space and glad to hear it’s working out!


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