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.
The 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. Top Next Issue
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Photo: Harry Glicken, Mount St. Helens, May 17, 1980. Courtesy US Geological Survey.
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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- Compromise is the art of devising an approach acceptable to all parties. A talent for compromise is
rare. What makes finding compromises so difficult?
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- Assumptions and the Johari Window: II
- The roots of both creative and destructive conflict can often be traced to the differing assumptions
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most part. But some of them carry connotations and hidden messages that undermine our larger purposes.
- Action Item Avoidance
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of the most popular patterns of action item avoidance.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people 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.
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