Wellness, Productivity, Balance for Graduate Students and Beyond

My "Offices" - A #MindfulPhD Tour

When I passed my prospectus defense and was ready to start writing my dissertation, I very consciously made an office space for myself. I painted the room in my rented house a dark grey, bought a paper rhino bust, and set up my desk so that I could see the window. I used that office at least five days a week for more than a year, and truly enjoyed the feeling of having my own space. I would put in the time at my desk, but then leave the room when I was done working for the day. 

But when I moved to Pittsburgh, shortly after my defense (very shortly - we packed and moved within 10 days of my defense date) I didn't need an office right away. I moved the desk into a large room, shared with my husband who works from home a few days a week, and worked at a variety of jobs that required very little work at home. So I transitioned to using my laptop "recreationally" - surfing on the couch, watching Netflix in the bathtub, etc. 

So when I started to work for myself full time in January, I wasn't in the habit of using my desk or my office space, and certainly hadn't taken the time to set up the space in an ideal way. And now, more than seven months later, I still have no regular working space. As you'll see below, I have several "offices," but no dedicated work space, which has led to some major space dysfunction. 

Here are my major problems with my spaces as they're set up right now:

  • When I work on the couch, it makes the line between work and relaxation thin/non-existent 
  • I dominate shared areas of the house in a way that isn't courteous to my other occupants
  • I have very few systems to help me stay organized / neat
  • I don't feel like I have maximized the spaces available to me 

So, as part of this #MindfulPhD challenge, I'm going to work on optimizing my space.

Here are my goals:

  • Make a clear, distinct workspace for myself 
  • Have that workspace be separate from main living areas so that there is a greater distinction between work time and off time
  • Separate art areas from work areas
  • Create dedicated space for self-care - meditation area? journaling spot? art spot? 
  • Set up systems to keep spaces organized and tidy (to a point, I'm not expecting a radical personality shift ;) ) 

So stay tuned for how this progresses - it's liberating to own up to my dysfunction as far as working spaces go, and to recognize that at least part of my problem is that different jobs and phases of one's life can need different things spatially. Hopefully feeling more centered in my space will help me feel even more grounded in my work after the dissertation.