Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 8;   February 20, 2002: Own Your Space

Own Your Space

by

Since we spend so much of our waking lives in our offices, it's surprising how few of us take control of our immediate surroundings. If you do — if you make your space uniquely yours — you'll feel better about the time you spend at work.

Visiting a client, I get a tour of the facility. I notice that one office has a scenic view of snow-capped mountains. I almost pass by, and then stop in mid-stride — there are very few snow-capped mountains in Chicago. Snow-capped land fills, maybe, but no snow-capped mountains, and certainly not in September.

I take a half step back and peek in.

View of Mt. St. HelensThe occupant is out, so I look more closely at the mountains and realize that I'm looking at a print — complete with window ledge and vertical blinds. The office has no actual windows, but on another wall is a poster — you've probably seen it — of a skier essing back and forth down an unending slope of deep powder.

On the desk is an old prism-shaped wooden name stick. It reads "Warren's Desk." I never did meet Warren, but I'd guess that he's a skier — or was once, before he moved to Chicago.

Add meaning and comfort
to your working environment.
Make it your own.
Warren had a small windowless office, but he had made it his own. You can do the same with yours, if you add meaning and comfort to your environment. Here are just a few possibilities.

  • If your office is cold, bring in an "adult blankie." If you're more comfortable in slippers, bring a pair to work.
  • Pay attention to ergonomics. Make your chair comfortable — adjust its height for safety and comfort. Add a pillow or seat cushion. Get a wrist rest.
  • If you're on the phone much, ask for a headset. Your neck will thank you. If the company won't buy you a headset, get a doctor's note, and see what they do then.
  • Hang prints, photos, or textiles. Bring in a decorative ceramic pot, or a sculpture one of your kids made.
  • If you don't like clutter, clean up your office. If you like clutter, clutter it. In your office, you're in charge of defining organized.
  • Get a plant or two. If you're a serial plant killer, get help — or get fake plants.
  • Think about toys, stuffed animals, and goofy clocks.
  • If you live in earthquake country, prepare. Arrange things so they will land where you usually aren't.
  • Check out what other people are doing around you. It's amazing what you can see when you look. Search the Web for "office accessories" to get more ideas. Here are Google's results.

Whether you work in a cube like Dilbert's or in a custom-decorated office with a vast expanse of carpeted emptiness, you can take control of your surroundings and make them uniquely yours. When you Own Your Space, you'll feel better about the time you spend at work — and you'll lower your level of stress. Go to top Top  Next issue: Heavy Burdens: Should, Always, Must, and Never  Next Issue

Photo: Harry Glicken, Mount St. Helens, May 17, 1980. Courtesy US Geological Survey.

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrendOlcJVgMftxRAFNKner@ChacetdChyAaDytuKOzroCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

PadlocksDiagonal Collaborations: Dazzling or Dangerous?
Collaborations can be very productive. There are some traps though, especially when the collaborators are of different rank, with the partner of lower rank reporting to a peer of the other. Here are some tips for preventing conflict in diagonal collaborations.
Henry David ThoreauEncourage Truth Telling
Getting to the truth can be a difficult task for managers. People sometimes withhold, spin, or slant reports, especially when the implications are uncomfortable or threatening. A culture that supports truth telling can be an organization's most valuable asset.
The George Foster Peabody AwardIllusory Incentives
Although the theory of incentives at work is changing rapidly, its goal generally remains helping employers obtain more output at lower cost. Here are some neglected effects that tend to limit the chances of achieving that goal.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christa Quam holds her puppyBe With the Real
When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
The REI parking garage in Denver, ColoradoThe Limits of Status Reports: I
Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Artist's concept of possible colonies on future mars missionsComing June 28: Tackling Hard Problems: I
Hard problems need not be big problems. Even when they're small, they can halt progress on any project. Here's Part I of an approach to working on hard problems by breaking them down into smaller steps. Available here and by RSS on June 28.
Artist's depiction of a dust storm on Mars with lightningAnd on July 5: Tackling Hard Problems: II
In this Part II of our look at solving hard problems, we continue developing properties of the solution, and look at how we get from the beginning to the end. Available here and by RSS on July 5.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenUcGskRDkAKBIRTtNner@ChacDPHEiEqUaOuavlofoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
A sampling:
  • Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
  • You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
  • I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
  • A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
  • …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
  • More
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.