Working in a career development center means there’s a fine line when it comes to organizing my office and desk. For me, this means finding a balance that will work for myself as well as the students, employers, and coworkers who may join me in the space. I emphasize balance because that is what I would say is the primary theme for my office which manifests in a variety of ways.
Overall my office serves two functions, both professional and personal. Professionally, I believe in keeping my desk area clean and organized, particularly using color coding. This not only allows me to be my best self at work but also looks appropriate for my role. Employers see the professionalism they expect in their own companies reflected in my office. Students have a model for how to consider presenting themselves in the workplace. But being organized for me isn’t just about appearance, it is what supports my productivity at work. Often we are encouraged to multi-task and, while I could write an entire post on the complications of that expectation, this approach allows me to keep track of many projects that are occurring simultaneously.
This balance is also personally about staying grounded and true to myself. As student affairs professionals it is easy to forget about ourselves; maintaining balance in my work space allows me to feel comfortable and bring my creativity and personality into my days. To be clear, I don’t claim to be an expert in finding this balance. As I’ve grown and learned more about my preferences, I have realized that I am happiest when my personal spaces are centered around the principles of feng shui (which I needed to look up specifics for to write this post as it often comes naturally to me). Some of these principles include eliminating clutter, so I keep any papers floating on my desk in folders or designated piles and surrounding myself with living things, which is why I already have 5 plants in my office (6 if you count the plastic one from a previous occupant) even though I’ve only worked at NYU for 11 months.
What allows me to work best will not necessarily work for others, yet what may be helpful is to take some time for introspection to delve into what allows us to work at our best. We spend so many hours in our offices which makes it all the more important to put thought into our surroundings. Having pictures of loved ones, memorabilia from the schools I’ve attended and places I’ve traveled, and inspirational quotes are valuable for me to fill my desk, walls, and shelves. This approach may not work for everyone, but that is the ultimate beauty of #deskdiaries.
In my time working at NYU, I still have students and coworkers who – whether seeing my office for the first time or the twentieth time – comment on it, or at least draw attention to the fountain pen I use daily. When I wrote my bio for our office website my last sentence was: “Her office usually has at least two of the following: chocolate, music playing, and a Rubik’s Cube.” Ultimately I want to have a space where anyone can feel comfortable, first and foremost for my own benefit. Life’s balancing act is always changing, and so is my office.
This post is part of our #DeskDiaries series, which aims to take a fun look at the diverse sets of work spaces that student affairs professionals have at the end of the year. Whether you can’t even see your computer, or your desk finally organized, we want to discover the nature of our field one desk at a time. For more information, please see Sabina’s intro post. Be sure to check out other posts in this series.