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

Own Your Space

by

Last updated: August 8, 2018

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

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!

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

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.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:

Mascot in duck costumeNames and Faces
Most of us feel recognized, respected, and acknowledged when others use our names. And many of us have difficulty remembering the names of others, especially those we don't know well. How can we get better at connecting names and faces?
Using an information kioskKnowing Where You're Going
Groups that can't even agree on what to do can often find themselves debating about how to do it. Here are some simple things to remember to help you focus on defining the goal.
Symptoms of Stage 5 heat stress in cattleYou Might Be Stressed If…
A little stress once in a while keeps us sharp, but chronic intense stress shortens lives. Stress can build gradually, out of our awareness. Here are some indicators of chronic intense stress.
Signers of the 1938 Munich AgreementHow to Reject Expert Opinion: I
When groups of decision-makers confront complex problems, they sometimes choose not to consult experts or to reject their advice. How do groups come to make these choices?
Two F-22A raptors line up for refuelingSymbolic Self-Completion and Projects
The theory of symbolic self-completion holds that to define themselves, humans sometimes assert indicators of achievement that either they do not have, or that do not mean what they seem to mean. This behavior has consequences for managing project-oriented organizations.

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

An excavator loads spoil into rail cars in the Culebra Cut, Panama, 1904Coming October 23: Power Distance and Teams
One of the attributes of team cultures is something called power distance, which is a measure of the overall comfort people have with inequality in the distribution of power. Power distance can determine how well a team performs when executing high-risk projects. Available here and by RSS on October 23.
John Frank Stevens, who conceived the design and method of construction of the Panama CanalAnd on October 30: Power Distance and Risk
Managing or responding to project risks is much easier when team culture encourages people to report problems and question any plans they have reason to doubt. Here are five examples that show how such encouragement helps to manage risk. Available here and by RSS on October 30.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, 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 Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership

On 14The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership 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. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.

Here's a date for this program:

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.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet 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.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
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.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!