By Gail Marsh
To rev up your enthusiasm for ministry this New Year, consider the basics. We’re talking the basic basics - your physical work environment. Choosing to upend your office for a complete do-over is well worth the effort. Working in a clean and organized space will make your job easier and more efficient! (How many hours did you spend looking for your stapler last year? Never again!) This is the year that your office space becomes a place of inspiration, peace, and productivity!
If you can get a few days off, consider clearing out your entire work area. Get a friend to help you push your old desk out into the hallway or maybe all the way to the curb! Remove everything from the walls - even those dusty curtains and the faded landscape picture from the ’80s.
With everything out of the way, take a moment to simply stand in the doorway to your work space. Is there adequate lighting? Are the walls crying out for fresh paint? Has the carpeting seen better days? Let’s face it! You may not have the budget to redo everything, but with a little ingenuity and some basic organizing tips, you can transform your space into something inspirational!
The easiest and least costly remodeling tool is paint. (Be sure to get permission first!) You can borrow brushes, rollers, and a step stool from a co-worker or friends. Home improvement and hardware stores often discount paint prices in the winter, or if you’re adventurous, you can check out their mis-tinted paint for a real bargain! If you can’t repaint the walls, plan to install open shelving. Use color-coordinated bins and storage boxes on the shelves to add a spark of color that will defy the existing paint and offer a clean, fresh look.
If you’re lucky enough to have an office window, think about ways to take advantage of it. Instead of covering it up with a full curtain, install a valance and let natural sunlight breathe new life into the room. If you require privacy, consider installing an inexpensive roller shade that can give you privacy when needed, but can easily be repositioned when you don’t.
Next, consider the flooring in your work space. What’s beneath that threadbare carpeting? Could it look any worse than the olive green wall-to-wall that covers the floor now? If you can’t remove the carpet, consider covering parts of it with an area rug you like.
Now it’s time to bring back your office furniture - but wait! Just because that file cabinet lived in the corner for the past five years doesn’t mean it can squat there now. Every square inch of your work space is valuable. For example, if most files are stored on your laptop or in the cloud, ditch your filing cabinet! Do you really need visitor chairs? Or, on those rare visitor occasions might you bring in a folding chair from nearby? Would a smaller desk work for you? Check out office supply stores, IKEA, or even thrift stores for a smaller, sleeker desk that may work better. Rethink ways to arrange your office furniture to give you more space - or the feeling of more space. Check out websites for ideas to optimize small spaces or invite a parishioner with design talent to help you.
Maybe you lack the time (and, face it, energy) for a complete office overhaul. That’s ok. Start small. Purge one desk drawer at a time. But before you begin, take a quick trip to the office supply or discount store in search of containers and desk drawer dividers. Take along a tape measure and your desk drawer dimensions. Find containers for the desk supplies you use. Measure to make sure the containers will fit your space. If your budget is tight, you can even make your own desk dividers from cereal boxes or other cardboard. (Just Google it!)
If you share storage cabinets with a coworker you probably will need to keep them in place. That’s ok! Simply declare a “Bring your Shredder to Work” day. Look through your space inside the cabinet and eliminate the papers you no longer need. Put extra desk supplies inside the resulting empty cabinet shelves to free up your desk space.
Maintenance is the key to organization! Allow yourself at least five minutes at the end of each work day to put everything away. Check your calendar (desktop or on your phone) to see what’s scheduled for tomorrow. Make sure your work space is cleared and ready. You’ll soon see that your efforts pay off - especially when you need that stapler!
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