Starting in on the office - again (Long, but desperate)

andrea345July 31, 2005

Dilemma -

I write. Not for a living, but as part of a writer's group and because I enjoy it. Problem is, it's poetry. I swear, nothing generates drafts & ideas the way poetry does. I've got stacks of papers filed in cabinets, stuck away in folders, stuck in trunks. I've got years of diaries I keep meaning to burn on December 31st some year. At least, though, there's a plan for that paperwork. I'm about ready to dig in to the office - again (I might add), but I need some effective means of handling my books & papers. The drafts especially.

Unfortunately, one of the most effective pieces advice about revising a poem is "drawer time." Yep, 6 months, 9 months, 12 is better, before you look at a piece again to begin the revision. Since I write all my drafts by hand, that means most folders are too small. I've even filled up 1" folders with revisions. A poem is never done.

Okay. Fine. A poem is never done, but how do I manage the paper without drowning?! I'm up to three or four file drawers, plus a hard hanging-folder on my desk along with my inks my pens, the phone, some basic books of writing poetry, my laptop, the stapler, the camera...

Usually I'm ruthless about tossing stuff. I can see tossing those pages of revision where I'm just writing the same words, the same phrases, the same line breaks time after time, but otherwise, I find it helpful to go back to "first thoughts", the inspirational moments & see what was going on. When it comes to the drafts, I stick 'em in folders and move onto the next one, but I swear, I have inches thick piles in there. The good thing, when I'm ready to rework a piece, I go back to that folder & I do review the work.

My office is only 10' wide by 16' long. I've got a dining room table as my desk. There's FOUR (count 'em - FOUR) computers in here. My husband's In The Business. I'd like to get down to three because he won't give up the X-Box Developer's carcass / station. So, that's my laptop, two monitors, a printer, scanner, cable modem, uninterruptable power supply, wireless router, speakers, wires, wires, wires!

I've got one wall & a half of Ikea's Ivar system (painted a gloss white). On my shelves I have my books of poetry, reference books and tall art books. On the other, we keep our financial paperwork. Last time I went through trying to clean up the financial paperwork I shredded stuff regarding our first remodel. My husband came in, shrieked, & told me we need to keep it for taxes, or resale, or proof that we spent the money. Ida Know.

Thank heavens so many bills are on line b/c that has reduced the volume of paperwork. The shelving is also a catch-all for my collection of printer papers. I also photograph my paintings, so need photographic paper as well as printer paper (cheaper by the box, uh, until you have to store it forever!), DVDs, CDs, receipts (the change in the Federal tax code allowing you to deduct state sales' taxes & over a standard deduction if you keep the receipts - uh, Not Necessarily A Good Thing for DH who keeps every receipt anyways), phone books, high school annuals, photograph albums. You get the picture. My head hurts.

I've tried reorganizing this office three times before. My writing drafts, the books, the creepy-crawlie receipts just keep coming back. Do you guys have any advice or should I really pay a professional organizer to come in here & help me with this project? We've been able to get control over every other room in the house but this one.



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I could have written your post! My list of stuff is slightly different, but I'm also overrun by paper. I watch Mission Organization for inspiration.

I hope some of the veteran organizers here have some helpful wisdom for us!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 10:09PM
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Just an idea for filing your poem drafts -- start by thinking of "themes" that keep re-appearing in your works. Create some file folders for those papers -- OR translate (type in)-- or scan each draft onto a file within your computer system so you could pull each one to work on them (combine them or ditch them at a later date) -- and get rid of the tiny slips of papers.

As for basic organizing -- well -- it is the tough love stuff that hurts -- get some empty boxes -- label them with Things that Make Sense to You (example: Toss, Long-term Storage, Household Files, Personal Files) etc.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 11:37AM
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Andrea, how do you know where to find the particular poem you're looking for? Do you end up going through folder after folder looking for it or do you know where it is?

I guess what I'm trying to say is: do you just remember having started a certain poem and weeks later decide to work on it again OR do you just look through all your folders from time to time and decide to work on a poem from the stack?

By knowing your thought process, it would be easier to come up with a system that works for you.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 1:33PM
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Well, the rough drafting process is anywhere from a week to two months of front & back sheets of paper. Each 8 1/2 x 11 page is dated & a page number for the day is added. Some days have hit 30 pages front & back. Not often. Usually it's six or seven pages. Then, when I'm sick of it, I post the version at the workshop to get feedback. At that point, the poem gets its folder. I get feedback on the poem. Sometimes I work on it (more sheets of paper), sometimes I start another poem. Sometimes I have two or three poems going at a time. The works in progress get filed for their "drawer time". I start a new draft or move on.

What I really hate is that I just came out of a Thang, "Write a Pome A Day" for the month of April. I have drafts everywhere. I was also in a "Survivor"-like poetry contest which actually lasted 6 months I haven't really recovered from. I've got my drafts all mixed in together.

Basically, I couldn't keep up with the system I had. Also, my hanging file folders are overflowing. I feel like I've failed, or my system didn't work. But to continue.

Theoretically, I have three locations for the filed drafts. There's a box which accepts hanging file folders on my desk. Each of the poems' drafts should be in their own file jacket & there should be enough hanging folders for me to put my current jackets in the hanging folders. Older works I'm not working on, the jackets are moved to a little mobile (i.e., on casters) hanging folder I keep beside my desk. Really old drafts go into the filing cabinet.

As the drafts expand in volume beyond the thin file jackets, they get moved into 1/2" file jackets. Everything's labelled in pencil.

Final drafts (i.e., drafts ready to send to the workshop or out for theoretical review for publication) are always typed into the computer. Line breaks are messed with, spelling is checked. The piece is printed out (I've had a hard drive fail at the same time as my backups were corrupted). This printed version is added to the file jacket. As versions firm up, the version on the word processor is just moved "down" a page by inserting a page break, so the most current version is what comes up when I open the file. I don't start a new computer file for each version. The file size just expands. When a piece has hit the "finished" mark, the file is moved from a "Working" directory to a "Final" directory & is considered pretty much "done." Paperwork goes into the filing cabinet.

I promise. I never keep tiny slips of paper. Those are transferred onto one of that day's sheets of paper.

Part of the issue is that when I'm not planning a kitchen remodel, working on a painting (heavens, anyone got an idea for storing finished canvases?), or aggravated with my office, I feel like writing three pages a day, every day is a minimum. As I mentioned, I often write more. Worse - much of that writing is research notes, for example the etymology of words, rhyming words, tangential ideas, research on the medicinal effects of plants, medieval names for illnesses, whatever, scattered higgledy-piggledy through the notes. Those notes are helpful though & I do return to them. I read through the pages.

On the household business side of things, I do have file binders labelled with my 401-K, art supply receipts, sales tax receipts, etc. Each tax year goes into a plastic bin. There's sufficient bins. While I've never gotten all my photographs into albums, they are in a storage box & the haven't grown anymore since we've gone to digital.

The "toss pile" - I'm working on DH for that one. He's much improved. There's very little junk mail makes it into the office any longer. The "file pile" - yes, I need to catch up on that one as well. Again, I do have boxes with hanging folders. I just have to go back & use them - if it sounds like the system I have is what can work. It just feels like it doesn't.

I'm considering getting a smaller desk. My favorite writing chair is breaking down, but it's big for the space anyways, moving my side of the office to his side of the office. Getting new curtains b/c while the ones we have are lovely, they don't keep out the sun. The paint is fresh & lively though and I still like it (yellow with white gloss trim). Maybe my system would work if it hadn't gotten to be such a crazy writing year. I don't know. I feel quite tossed about. It seems too cumbersome to me right now.

It could be that the system could / would work if I hadn't been in those writing events. I'm not sure. I decided to start that system about a month before the writing event which lasted from May to November and never recovered. I know we've gone back to stacking paperwork again. I'll go look at some of it tonight.

Sooo, that's my current system for my drafts & an idea of their volume.

Thanks guys, for your suggestions.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 8:52PM
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Wow! That sounds pretty darned organized to me. I'm impressed.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 2:55AM
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rats, Susan. So, if the system could work, I just need to get hopping. I've been reading through the pages and I've seen TalleySue's rallying cry of IN FRA STRUC TURE! because something is just not working for me in this space. I've got a lot of clutter to go through (*again*). I'm discouraged, mostly b/c since I got the "infrastructure" for my closet, studio, livingroom, guestroom, library / dining, tv room & bedrooms in order, it's been so easy to keep those areas under control. In fact, my biggest "success" story is the closet area. I used to have the messiest closets & drawers. No more. Not perfect (still need to weed through the socks again this year), but a million times better.

That hasn't happened yet in the office. It's not "easy" to work "the system" on an on-going basis. It builds up and now I'm all frustrated again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's the situation.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 9:35AM
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Andrea, it sounds like you have an awful lot going on!

It seems to me that you have a lot of things that just sit. You have folders full of drafts which are aging (like wine; not aging in a bad way :-) ), backup copies and many prior revisions of poems, and more computer equipment than you likely regularly use. Some of these items don't get touched for months. Is there any chance some of the things that have to sit can be elsewhere, out of your office? That certainly would gain you some room and return the psychic energy wasted by surveying all of the "stuff" in that room again and again.

It might also help to turn off (or at least throttle back) the "inspiration firehose." Participating in those "Poem a Day" and "Survivor" events may have been fun, but you're suffering from the aftermath.

Finally, one thing that really helped me combat the "file pile" was to pick one time (mine is Sunday night) that is inviolate and use it to pay the bills due that week and file away receipts, etc. You could file away drafts and tidy up a bit (if need be), as well.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 10:20AM
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it almost does sound like revising your infrastructure might help. Or at least review it to see if what you've got is working. Lots of file drawers are important (and you've hopefully read how I feel about filing cabinets--nothing beats them for paper; get GOOD ones); you probably qualify for some four-drawer ones. Even if you have to get the lateral ones (that don't need as much space in front of them to open).

You seem to generally have it together, and that system you described sounds good--maybe you just got overwhelmed by the volume.

Another idea is to give yourself maintenance time and set up file folders, etc., BEFORE you need them. Esp. if you do another "poem a day" type event--carve out prep time., and set up the storage BEFORE you need it.

I have crunch times at the magazine, w/ papers that need to be filed while the work is flowing fast. They pile up, too--EXCEPT for the times when I've gotten my act together and set up the folders BEFORE the close begins. Of course, I know which stories I'll be handling in any given issue, so I know what to label them, how many I'll need, etc. But maybe you could come up w/ an estimate that would work better for you, esp. for busy times.

I also greatly agree w/ Steve that you create a specific time you can "maintain." You mentioned the socks--actually, weeding out the socks is SUPPOSED to be something you have to tackle periodically--ditto the papers, inspiration, poems. Give yourself time to tidy them up.

Also, I envision a collection of papers that ONLY grows. Can you bring yourself to throw any of it out, ever?

(one infrastructure idea: shelves over the desk? I'm guessing you have some already, but if not, the smaller computer peripherals could go very nicely there--or just under the desk)

(ditto Steve's idea that not everything store in the office--or not accessibly in the office. Stash the photo paper farther away, for example)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 12:46PM
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Andrea, it seems as though you do have a system. It seems at this moment that you are just overwhelmed by the number of files you have.

How are you labeling the files that you are working on now and the ones that are put away? By date, name of poem or both?

Have you ever thought of filing your paperwork in binders instead of filing cabinets? I personally prefer binders to files when I'm working on projects because I find it easier to pull out an organized binder than a bunch of files.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 2:02PM
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hiya Marie,
The files are labelled with simply the poem's name. The dates cover such a range that I don't bother. Thanks for the binder idea. I do that with my diaries. I have a very specific type of paper I love to write on & I get the paper bound between canvas ends for a hard surface. They put spiral binder backs on. It doesn't work very well for me with poetry b/c I like looking at my revisions out of sequence. The paper's not punched with holes, so I'd have to add that step. When I travel, though, I do have a metal "binder" of sort which also serves as a lap table. However, the sheets are held loose within that metal binder & I take them out when I'm finished travelling.

That said, I do have binders for a lot of other things. There's more below in this response. I'd like your feedback.

Yup, the past year has been a flurry & then I've been planning a full kitchen remodel - which is how I found these forums again. So *grins* I've got my kitchen plans now stacked atop my latest versions on my desk.

My KD gave me a binder with the plans & that's also made it onto my desk. *okay, just moved the binder into The Bag* I have already shredded / recycled any unused kitchen specs or ideas. The Bag is down to a series of labelled folders (i.e., receipts, specs, "firm ideas", misc. ideas, stone & fabricators, measurements & specs) plus the final spec books of the items I've purchased, my tape measure and samples. The Bag is now hanging out below my desk. aargh!

I'm trying to talk DH out of the need for so many computer carcasses hanging around. I use only a laptop. The other 3 are his.

And you're right, the inspiration firehouse had been going, but now it's doused & I can't get going again with this chaos. It's just that there has to be a way to not let it get so out of control again. That's where Sue's ideas of filing cabinets which pulled all the way out just smacked me upside the head.

Talley Sue,
I'm thinking I'm too far away from my file cabinets. They're basically outside of arm's reach from me. Besides the moveable hanging file holder, my file cabinets are behind & across the room from me as I sit at my desk. The moveable hanging file holder might as well be across the room because I can't reach it from here. When I read your Nov.04 thread, it struck me. New file cabinets. Closer. Move my desk to the other side of the room. I'm thinking I'll even get a smaller desk. One which can't be cluttered up with stuff. If I move closer to my file cabinets, or move them closer to me, the paper won't stack as much or as often.

Yes, I often throw out / shred papers which are scribbles only. Diaries - I think I'll burn those December 31st. Someone hold me to that thought! My idea is to go back through them, glean them for ideas & then burn 'em. No one should ever have to read that cr**. Rough drafts... I think I could do that with some pieces that have made it to the "Finals" bin - i.e., insignificant steps. I could see reducing the 1/2" file jacket reduced down to a thin jacket. I can see burnin those papers as well on New Years Eve.

When I'm off of a "jag" working on a piece, that's usually when I put it in a file jacket. I never have a file ready for it until then. I'll try your idea.

As far as cleaning up the financial paperwork, etc., that usually gets done at bill pay time. We do the "shred if paid" kind of thing. I haven't looked through the growing stack on DH's desk. That needs attention.

I cleaned out my socks before posting. There's a box ready to go for delivery.

While I've finished planning for the remodel of my kitchen, I think I'll plan on trying to work out the space in my office.

*Smaller desk
*Filing cabinets next to my writing area - full extension drawers
*Hubby can have the cubby with three pooters lined up, I'll go wireless.
*Move my desk to be closer to the shelving so my Immediate Need reference books can be shelved
*Look into adding shelving above the desk for pens, kleenex & stuff.

I think I'll decorate some of those ugly black plastic file bins and the binders I have for my stuff. Marie, I've got binders all over the place for my 401Ks, financial paperwork, all sorts of things, but they're ugly & mismatched. I think they annoy me. I'm gonna pretty them up - somehow. Open shelving is helpful, but it adds to a sense of clutter when there's only ugly brown & black against my yellow walls. That's part of my irritation, I think.

I wish I could change the title of my post from what it is to "Help me design a working office space."


    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 10:09PM
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I've been scanning all your ideas about this volume of paper. It's hard to imagine no one has suggested a computer with a scanner to store copies of all this. Then systematically store off site or dispose. I kept thinking, what if there's a fire? There are great storage capacities in computers, plus external hard drives to copy to and store off site, plus depending on the system you use it would certainly be easier to find long forgotten files. Just a thought. I hate tons of paper files so I shred or toss as soon as I see something getting too full or cluttered with paper. With me nothing is that important except to IRS and my everchanging interests.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 11:29PM
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This is JUST a thought -- but re-arranging and creating a larger desk area might help. Plus re-consider desk lighting -- my desk -- a former conference room work table -- has two very tall buffet lamps. Good light!

Again -- JUST a thought -- what about changing the color of the room to a deeper softer color? Our office/guest room is in deep olive green -- we have two desks, a large dark brown leather sofa bed plus a whole corner of shelves.

Maybe if you really thought about your system -- you might be able to even cut down on the number of shelving units -- and create more working space???

Also I noticed that you might benefit from a large bulletin board (and more deeply colored artwork?? JUST a thought!!!!)

Target had larger bulletin boards in their office supply section ---

Just some ideas ........ hope you don't mind!!!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 11:55PM
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Thanks for the idea of the scanner. I have done that for some projects and what I've found is that scanning four pages takes about a minute. It's also harder to find the page I'm looking for once I've scanned. I keep electronic copies of a lot of paperwork (payments, etc.) that can be easily named (i.e., "phone 3-2005").

I'm more liable to send pages to the shredder than to scan them b/c For me, the volume of paper fits into 3 standard sized file folder cabinet drawers plus the hanging folder on my desk. I feel out of control right now because the files are a mess. Some of my folders have broken down, I haven't kept up with my paper so just added them to the file piles. ugh. It's "get under control" time. But thanks for the idea. It was important. It made me think about what I've got. I've made it sound much worse than it is b/c for me, it felt like Crazyville. I do shred quite a bit. It's just that I haven't kept up with my filing after this last go around and a Poem-A-Day put me over the edge, I do believe. That's fronts of one page with one piece (worth keeping or not, I'm not sure, I have to go back & look) with the back of another. EEK!

I love the ideas, I need ideas. While I may, or may not use them, it's helping me focus. It's pulling me away from the panic of "It's a wreck!" and beginning to think about what the situation is. I think it's probably not as horrible as it felt the other day b/c of the feedback I've been given. Terrapots point about scanning helped me realize just now that I'm really only talking about 3 standard filing cabinets worth of paper. It feels like a lot to me, but it's not stacked floor to ceiling. It's just out of control for me.

It's interesting you should bring up light. I write by candlelight. I love the dark mornings and fall evenings. Weird, huh? I do need better overall light for the room though.

It's also interesting that you bring up even more desk space. This would be a great topic for discussion. The way I'm feeling right now is that my 36" deep x 60" long desk is one of the culprits helping me create chaos. I can't actually reach my grammar & resource books sitting on one back corner of the desk and they're partially hidden by my hanging file folder box in the front. I'm looking at my desk right now & I think I've got about two - three layers front to back going on here. My horizontal space is broken up into at least four zones: ashtray, computer, writing area, phone. Maybe this isn't a bad thing, but right now, it just looks like cluttered. My thought was to reduce the depth to reduce the surface area for clutter. I hate that in one way b/c that would force me to look for other solutions, however some of those links which show the hutches would really work in my application I think. Those are ideas which would really work in my room.

Your other ideas have my wheels spinning. Those links were to systems I'd be willing to introduce in here. I've got a lot to think about. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:44AM
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I smiled when I saw Teacats idea of a BIGGER desk, bcs I'd been admiring your idea of a SMALLER desk.

one of my "mottos" is "If you build it, they will come" (otherwise known as "a mess expands to fill all available space.")

I like the idea of a shelf over the desk--a ledge, really. I was thinking about you last night, and the concept that you shouldn't have any space that's "extra"--figure out what sort of "small desktop tools" (stapler, tape, pencils, dictionary, thesaurus, resource books, etc.) you need, and make a shelf ONLY big enough to hold them (my dictionary is 7.25" deep, front-to-back).

Put dividers, so the stuff can't be "scooched over" to hold something else, and so they'll stand upright (I like those "vertical sorters" to hold dictionaries, etc--you can grab the one in the middle, and pull it out, and the others don't fall over; even better, you can PUT IT BACK with one hand. The sorter needs to be steel, not plastic, and the gaps need to be big enough for booksbut my collegiate desk dictionary fits in one! TheyÂre usually 10 inches deep, though, which is overkill for your reference books, I bet). Even if you have to screw something to the shelf.

Mount it about 8 to 10 inches above the desktop, near the center within easy armÂs reach of whichever arm you grab them with.

There are shelves out there somewhere that have drawers under themÂthat could hold paperclips, stamps, and maybe useless junk (but itÂd be UP, out of the way); that would increase your storage options.

HereÂs one by Ballard Designs (comes in 2, 3, and 4-drawer sizes) >\

And hereÂs one by Lillian Vernon

this one may not be deep enoughÂonly 5 inches, and 7 would be better.

Then your work surface is clear, but the stuff is handy yet out of the way.

(you could even put a full-wall bulletin board there, and use extra-deep screws through the bulletin board to mount the shelf in the middle of the bulletin board)

I think w/ a smaller desk, you'd be less likely to put off filing papers and just shove 'em over--there's no "over" to shove 'em too!

I also was admiring your conclusion that your file cabinets need to be nearer. I think that's a smart thought. One axiom of organizing is, "make it really easy to put away, even if that makes it hard to get it out." The idea is, when we WANT something, we'll GO and get it; we'll put in the extra effort. But when we're done w/ something, we just want to be DONE with it; we don't really want to spend more energy putting it away.

(that's part of why it works for me when I make the folder ahead of time--even if I re-label it later, at least it's out of the box, ready to go. The simple act of having to take out the box of folders, get the folder, put the box back, derails me. How's that for lazy?)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 12:07PM
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Talley Sue,
That thought about the ledge depth made me pull out my measuring tape. Sure enough, my favorite reference books are 6" deep. The ledge really shouldn't be any deeper. Those drawers are spectacular. That'll get my pens, stationary, glasses, scissors & stuff off the desk.

While my laptop is 15.5" wide, I need only about 28-30" of writing space (elbow to elbow, since I write by hand). Right now I think that the maximum width for at least one side the writing side of the desk, shouldn't be more than 36". I can go L-shaped in the room. I don't want to go too narrow & lose legroom beneath the top. It'll be an interesting balance.

I hate having my computer in front of my face while I'm writing, yet that is My Dictionary, My Thesaurus, My Rhyme Finder, etc. I haven't bought a dictionary for about ten years now . I have some old ones, like "antique" old & I still can't bring myself to part with my Webster's Unabridged, but those are on bookshelves. I think I want the computer to the left side of me, some place I can comfortably turn to when I'm ready to type something up, but definitely out of my "writing zone." I think I need at least 21" of depth for writing, but that includes my well used candle sticks. Those might go to a wall mount as well. Desktop tools can go over the computer.

By putting my computer to the left of me, I can still swivel to turn to face it & it leaves my right arm / hand available to scribble notes. Anyways, that's my thought at the moment. Sound crazy?

I do have a wireless mouse & keyboard I could return to as well. I moved those to another system b/c the keyboard took up even more front-to-back space on my desk. While typing on the laptop is very comfortable, it isn't mandatory. I could even see the laptop mounted a bit out of the way as long as the screen is easy to see. I don't want to add another monitor to the melange we already have. This one's perfectly sufficient.

Right now, I've got a scanner and a printer. Last time I had my scanner on the desk it got buried below Stuff. It's got something on top of it now anyways even though it is on a shelf to the side of my table. I think slim pull out for that one. Printer can go off to the side somewhere, but I'm not sure about distance. Right now, it's to my left & it's easy to reach over to pull something out.

I see no reason why I can't comfortably fit into a maximum of 4 standard filing drawers. I have 3 now... uh... just checked. There's 4. One's really old projects (do I really have to read through that stuff?). We would need an additional 4 for the home stuff & we could pull some more of the file bins off the shelves.

DH has nixed removing the shelving to replace with cabinets, but he's fine adding doors or something if we can't dress up the stuff on the shelves to make 'em look nicer.

Yup, I'm moving across the room. Time to go take some measurements.

Thanks for taking your time & coming back with those thoughts & links!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 8:28PM
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I hate having my computer in front of my face while I'm writing, yet that is My Dictionary, My Thesaurus, My Rhyme Finder, etc.

OK, now--open up your laptop, and measure from the desktop to the top of the open screen. THAT is how much space you need under that shelf--so you can scooch your laptop up against the wall while you're writing in front of it.

How big is it front-to-back? would you have enough space if you did that? Or, if not, slide the laptop toward the wall AND to one side a little bit.

Or--what if you folded it up and set it on its side? As if it were a book? How often, really do you open it? I'm a copyeditor on a magazine, and I open the dictionary about 15 times a day--but I don't leave it open in front of me. I guess w/ a laptop, it depends on the power, etc. But if it's plugged in to the wall, maybe it won't matter to just leave it on but folded up during a writing sesson? (you sure don't want to wait for the stupid thing to boot up!)

You could leave it open ont he desktop during computer time, and treat it like a book when it's poetry-writing time. You just need a slot to put it in that it won't fall over.

I could even see the laptop mounted a bit out of the way
That's not a bad idea either--a slightly slanted shelf w/ a lip at the front, for when you want it open to be the dictionary, but you aren't actually writing on it.

Or, if there's room front-to-back, a stand at the back of your desk, like this one for dayplanners

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:49PM
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You might also ponder whether those shelves would be more useful if the drawers were REMOVED, and the stuff stuck into the remaining CUBBYHOLES. (even if you subdivided w/ pieces of posterboard of foam board)

Because you could stick your glasses in there without having to pull out the drawer (fewer motions), and looking in (you might have to stand up, etc.)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:51PM
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I have 2 places in my life (one in my bedroom, the other in my SIL's kitchen) where what I REALLY want to do it fill the wall w/ Ikea's 12-inch-deep uppers, complete w/ doors. Maybe make the lower level in the bedroom the base cabinets, and use the drawers for a dresses; put a countertop across for a desk, etc.

So all the stuff will be DUST FREE behind doors--no visual clutter, much less dust. I could leave the doors off a few cabinets...

I'm really loving the "wall full of cabinets" look and concept these days. I think it's bcs I have way too much stuff in my home. And it gets way too dirty and takes way too long to clean.

My SIL has a wall that needs 8" deep cabinets w/ doors, so she can store cleaning supplies, etc.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:54PM
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Talley Sue,
When I redid the studio I got Ikea's 84" high glass front cabinets. The wall of cabinets made a world of difference in how that space functions and feels. I don't have pictures of it now, but will try to get some uploaded later.

I swear by these cabinets. I didn't think they could hold the weight of five-gallon pails filled with gesso. They do & more. There's a tall pull-out which holds the variety of oil paints, pigments and other stuff. I use another tall, thin cabinet for my longer lengths of canvas & butcher paper. The only regret I have is that I bought glass shelves in an upper cabinet. The 30" run is too long to hold my books without sagging. I shoulda stuck to the white melamine shelves for those. It makes working in the room pleasant.

When I first redid the closet with the slatboard and the upstairs bedroom was finished, that's when I realized that space could "work". That is, the space itself could do the work of organizing a room for you. I moved on to the studio. It's weird, but I've never gotten the office to do its work. I thought it was how I was treating my paperwork and because of the volume of paper. The closets, the studio and most of the rest of the house "do" the work of organizing.

My laptop is 11" front to back. Unfortunately, I leave it open all the time while I'm working on a poem. Words are always on the tip of my tongue. I use it for my thesaurus, my rhyming dictionary, for grammar lookups. It's pretty intense. Yes, there are long jags where it's off to the side, but then I go back to playing with words.

The point you made about having to stand up to look in drawers is a very good point. I'd spend time rummaging around and that would irritate me. I've eyballed some slim desktops with small drawers below them. However, they always have the pull out for the laptop or keyboard in the center, so they won't work for the way I think I want to operate. This is going to be a low budget / no budget "redo" anyways b/c we start our kitchen remodel in two, three weeks.

The computer has to be to the left of the writing space. I can buy table legs, but those desktops are going to be challenging. Lazy-Susan maybe? heh.

My Ivar shelving - I think I can find some white melamine or MDF to close out the sides. Ikea doesn't make door fronts which fit the Ivar system. If I put up doors, then I don't have to worry about replacing my mis-matched binders & file holders which add visual "chaos". Artists' stretcher bars can be covered with fabric for a lightweight door panel. If the canvas is gessoed & painted, dust won't be a problem. Another option would be a very light-weight coddled hardboard. The 1x2 supports would probably be better support for a hinge, but the hardboard would be heavier than the canvas. I'll have to think about that.

Filing cabinets - That's where I think any more I spend will go. I've done the garage sale route. I've got the leftovers. They're flimsy & they've fallen apart. They're hard to pull out. I've said 8 would be optimal, but I can obviously do with less as I'm working off of a total of five at the moment & those are "less than filled" - just junked up & files falling all over the place in there.

The 2nd place the money will go will be to chairs. Very comfortable chairs with casters already built in. My final frustration was when my over-sized Queen's Chair broke a leg when the home-implanted caster popped out. It was too big for the space anyways, but it was comfortable. I'm tearing up my pine flooring by moving it around without the casters.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 9:44AM
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too bad your DH is so adamant about not getting cabinets to replace the Ivar stuff; it'd be about the same money and a lot less work.

HOWEVER, that said, I remember seeing in Martha Stewart Living publication--a book, maybe the magazine--a SHORT screen--basically, a piece of Homasote or plywood with feet at the bottom--that was designed to sit in front of a bookcase to hide it. It was only as wide as the bookcase, and only tall enough for the bottom 3 shelves. They'd wrapped it in linen (they always do), stapling it on the edge, and glued a braid or ribbon around the edge to hide the staples.

A screen would be a PITN if you needed to get in there--it's a bit more annoying than doors, but I guess only a bit. But if you only get stuff from that shelf once or twice a day, it would be OK.

Here's a pep talk about those filing cabinets--you've probably read something I've said on the subject anyway. You don't have to go top of the line, but you DO have to go to an office supply store. I didn't buy their cheapest (it would have been pretty good); I went only one step up, and I'm thrilled. The cabinet is strong, smooth, and wasn't an arm and a leg!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:29AM
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If you have one around, you have probably already thought of this, but I will mention it anyways. We have a used office supply store in town. What they sell is in very good condition, and is good quality that was used in offices (obviously). Much better quality than garage sales, and a little more expensive, but cheaper than buying new. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:41AM
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Thanks for the heads up on where to find filing cabs. I will definitely be searching those out.

Yup, Talley Sue,
The way DH put it, was "First you said you just wanted to plan a kitchen remodel as a distraction. Then we interviewed designers. Then we got the financing together. Then we signed the contract. I don't want 'us' to think about the office until next year."

Ha! He's so cute. It's actually not going to stop me from getting my paperwork in order, or cleaning this place up, or getting back into my writing. It's also no bar to building up options for when he's ready to look at stuff again. He's got a good point, though, with every remodel there are $$ burps. Until we get past the demo, we're not 100% sure where we stand with the final $. (ooo look - there's dry rot behind the sink - kaching! kaching!)

Naw, the screen won't work for me either. One thing which has been a mistake in my past is that I've gone out & taken care of my needs in this room with a series of quickie fixes. That's a primary problem with how this room is put together.

I'd really hate to pull out the Ivar shelving system not just because there's simply so much of it, but because I like the drawers it comes with - they're handy. The corner units, while weak, are an effective use of space. What I don't like is that they're open. Where I'd like to spend the money is in a lateral filing cabinet for my work & a better two drawer file cabinet for the home paperwork. Then, there's the office chairs. They need to be "reading chairs" in scale with the small room, but on casters for the movement.

It took me five months to plan the kitchen remodel. This one could take just as long b/c what I'm seeing out there doesn't really "work" for how I see this office finally working. Time to start a new thread - "Critique the pre-built office units."

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 9:47AM
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