I recently created a new home office area. I had exactly six feet by five feet of space to work with. It has to function for both the writing and the artistic sides of my work—and everything has to fit.
Some of the items I had on hand; others, I’ve been collecting for this purpose. I have a new desk, file cabinet, and book case. I’d really like to add more storage containers—maybe even a small craft table, or a folding chair for reading business material. Or a floor lamp.
Truthfully, I can buy as many items as I want. Each may have value. But only a certain number of them are going to fit into that space.
It’s a lot like life.
I have 24 hours in my day. 365.25 days in my year. Maybe a few decades, maybe a few minutes left in my life. I don’t know.
I can make the choice to do whatever I want with my time…but only a certain number of things will fit into my day. There will be many things I wish to do, and many things that are important. But I can not do all of them.
When I take on too many tasks or agree to too many responsibilities, I’m filling my days to the brim. Like my cramped home office space, my days get tight and cluttered. I don’t have creative freedom, I can’t give my best, and I don’t enjoy my activities as much as I could. So…what’s the solution?
Deciding what’s important
For instance, in my home office, there is a monstrously large art table. It needs a lot of my space. I’ve had it for years; it was there when I started my project. But as I began filling the room with all my new acquisitions, this art table seemed to be getting more ungainly. It takes up so much space that I couldn’t fit all the other things I wanted—not unless I made the table inaccessible. As I arranged and rearranged that room, I began to get frustrated and annoyed with the table. I started thinking, “Why does it have to be so difficult? The new cabinet would fit perfectly in this area, if only I didn’t have to work around that table.”
But at one point, I stood back, took a deep breath, and looked at what I had. I realized—I love that table. It belongs to me, has meaning for me. It was one of the first business purchases I made with my own money. I’ve created characters and worlds on that surface. We’ve been through different states and a lot of life experiences together. Yet here I was, ready to push it away just to make room for something else that needed the space.
How many things in my life do I treat the same way?
Perhaps it’s when I cut back on family activities to do extra work, because family “understands and won’t mind.” Maybe it’s that old friend that I don’t call nearly enough, because new occupations take up so much of my time. Maybe it’s my personal renewal that suffers, because I think it’s more important to answer a few extra emails than to shut down my computer and read a book before bed.
What I realized with the office project is that the important things will all fit together, somehow. It may take a while, and require some trial-and-error; I may have to say “no” to other things I don’t really need. But I’ll find a space for each necessity. It will work.
There are set numbers to our days. The numbers aren’t infinite. When you step back and take a look at your life, what’s most important to you?
Are you giving it enough space?
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© 2008 Christine Taylor