Dispatches from Graduate School–Part 13

Cali Pitchel McCullough is a Ph.D student in American history at Arizona State University.  For earlier posts in this series click here. –JF

Professor Fea was the first to explain to me the importance of an office. Last semester, while living with my parents, I had no defined office and had to make several different spaces throughout the house fit my needs. The kitchen table became my desk, the corner of the dining room housed my books, and the recliner in the loft was the perfect reading spot. Each space served a purpose, and 75% of the time I had the quiet necessary to do my work. The other 25% of the time I shared those spaces with the rest of my family.  The problem with three-quarters time of peace and quiet is that I really needed the full 100% to complete my tasks to the best of my ability. I did well this semester, but I do believe that my work suffered because of distractions and the general feeling that the time at my parents’ home was only temporary.

Now that Quinn and I are settling into our condo, it’s time to create for myself an office sanctuary. That might seem like an oxymoron. An office is for work and deadlines. A sanctuary is for rest and relaxation. For me, both are necessary to be productive, energetic, and creative. The condo is small, so space is at a premium. We’ve taken advantage of many space saving techniques, but the reality is that we have less space than we had when we were in Pennsylvania. Too much stuff in a small place is not a good combination.

The second bedroom in the condo has served as a drop spot during the past few weeks. If an item didn’t have a home, it went in the office/guest room. After several trips to Goodwill and many concerted hours of finding a place for gift-wrap, extra pillows, and seasonal decorations, I can finally maneuver my way through the room without using my climbing skills. I’ve been adamant about getting this space ready before the spring semester begins.  I managed at my parents’ house, but I want to thrive in my new office space.

Because of the lack of space, and a room that has to serve a few functions, I decided on a closet office. Rather than use the closet in the second bedroom for storage, the closet will be my office space. We planned for this while doing the renovations, so we removed the closet doors and any hardware that remained from when it served as a regular clothing closet. After some online research, I decided on green for the walls, because according to color psychology, green is supposed to be restful, cheerful, and soothing. That sounded like the perfect description for my office sanctuary. For the office,we decided on an Elfa system. Thanks to the holidays, we scored an entire system for half price (my budget-loving husband was well pleased).

There is still much to do to prepare the office for the new semester. I need some storage boxes; we’re installing more shelving; we need a filing cabinet; my reading chair needs to be reupholstered; and we’d like to hang curtains to make the office discrete when the room is filled with visiting friends and relatives. We have two more weeks to make it happen. I already feel more productive and the space isn’t even complete.

Here are some teasers in the meantime!

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