Friday, June 09, 2006

What does your workspace say about you?

I've always wanted my workspace to reflect a little of who I am outside the office. This serves a lot of purposes. I get to have a little bit of my outside life around me while I work, and people who come into my workspace can see a little of the person who might not otherwise surface. It can also act as a conversation starter and a bit of a friend-finder.

The problem is that after ten years in the same company, it's stopped reflecting a little of who I am, and started reflecting a little of every little thing that has interested me in that ten years. It's less like a snapshot of my life and more like a dumping ground for it. And that's fine, in some ways. Some times it's cool to find an action figure I got when I was in my teens and remember how it ended up at work when I wanted something to decorate my cube in my first month on the job.

But overall, it's slowly been gnawing at me. I want a cleaner workspace, with less junk and more meaningful items. More things with stories attached, fewer random Burger King kids' meal toys.

And now, as a shift into a new managerial role (and office with a door) looms on the horizon, I have the perfect excuse to do something about it. What do I keep, what do I get rid of, and what do I add?

I mean, I can't even remember what prompted me to put a snowman-shaped pez dispenser on my bookshelf. I think I nabbed it from someone's cubicle after they left the company, to remind me of them ... but I can't remember who it was. There's an irony there which is not lost on me.

I have two Lord of the Rings movie posters on the wall that have been on display since well before the movies came out. When I put them up, it was a way of spreadng the news about the upcoming movies and starting conversations about them. Now people assume I'm some kind of LOTR fiend when the truth is I've seen Ocean's Eleven more times than I've seen Fellowship of the Ring (okay, maybe not, but it's close).

I've got snapshots of my nephews from before they were old enough to talk. Now they're in little league. I've got a complete LOTR chess set. Patriots players action figures for people who haven't been on the team in years. A giant R2-D2 cookie jar. The list goes on.

But I also have my collection of magnets I grabbed on my road trip, to remind me of where I've been. I've got a clay "death mask" I bought in Cancun. I've got a beautiful black and white picture of my nephews and niece taken last fall in a pile of leaves. And while you might not understand why a Diablo 2 action figure is important to me, in a weird way it's very important to me, and I don't want to let it go quite yet.

It's going to be interesting to see what I make of my new workspace, when I move into an office. How much of the old me will come along? What will my co-workers think of the change?

Right now my plan is to save one shelf in the office for "toys" and decorate the rest with more "grown up" trinkets. This will force me to pick and choose the toys which have the most meaning, and remind me of my roots, while allowing me to show more of who I am today to those who step into the office.

The real question is, what do I put on the walls? Right now I have four posters -- 1 Sandman, 1 Swingers, and 2 LOTR. I've been thinking of decorating with travel-themed posters, though ... change it up a little.

Watch here for updates :).

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