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

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? rbrenqBlLxFfbzPwiOjvNner@ChacnHTzMWDNUGgrwBVcoCanyon.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:

The Thinker PowerPointingThink Before You PowerPoint
Microsoft PowerPoint is a useful tool. Many of us use it daily to create presentations that guide meetings or focus discussions. Like all tools, it can be abused — it can be a substitute for constructive dialog, and even for thought. What can we do about PowerPoint abuse?
A toasterSome Costs of COTS
As a way of managing risk, we sometimes steer our organizations towards commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, methodologies, designs, and processes. But to gain a competitive edge, we need creative differentiation.
The Boott Cotton Mills and Eastern CanalThere Is No Rumor Mill
Rumors about organizational intentions or expectations can depress productivity. Even when they're factually false, rumors can be so powerful that they sometimes produce the results they predict. How can we manage organizational rumors?
The Niagara River and cantilever bridgeBottlenecks: I
Some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks." The people around them repeatedly find themselves stuck, awaiting responses or decisions. Why does this happen and what are the costs?
Firefighter lighting grass using a drip torchHow to Get Out of Firefighting Mode: I
When new problems pop up one after the other, we describe our response as "firefighting." We move from fire to fire, putting out flames. How can we end the madness?

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The Jolly RogerComing August 22: Dealing with Credit Appropriation
Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenYnLHWlhNfSpZAeaAner@ChacKCFbSSJHCNNrxlZOoCanyon.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 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 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.
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.