Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back in My Swivel Chair

After six weeks of working from home, today I returned to my newly renovated office. They painted, replaced the carpet, installed new light fixtures and redid the ceiling tiles. Everything looks a lot brighter. The absence of blinds from the two, 8 foot by 3 foot windows is only partially responsible for the extra light.

I pile-shifted for weeks in preparation for the renovation. I'm fortunate to have quite a bit of storage space in my office. Even so, I've always had to use some of the shared storage space around our building. I managed to get all my stuff neatly arranged in the big cabinets in my office for the first time ever. The newly organized storage cabinets looked so nice I had to show them off to selected, equally well-organized coworkers.

Thanks to the Internet it is no longer necessary to keep about two-thirds of the information once stored in my file cabinets. I cleaned out several drawers entirely, significantly thinned several more, and will likely pare down the rest as time permits between now and the holiday break. I'm not paper-less, but I need much less of it than was the case a decade ago.

The information from my old Rolodex is now on the computer. If not, it's fast and easy to look up phone numbers, mailing addresses or e-mail addresses online. The big stack of directories I used to keep by my phone is gone, too.

I'm not sure why I needed about a hundred pens, pencils, markers and highlighters, but I had them in my desk, along with thousands of paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands and staples. Dozens of "thank you for speaking at our conference" water bottles, staplers, flashlights and other keepsakes with assorted and sundry logos once artfully arranged on bookcase shelves and my desk top are gone, too. How many cubes of post-it notes do you really need?

Mountains of old files, directories and assorted trash accumulated over more than a decade found its way to the recycling bin or dumpster. Most of my coworkers cleared out as much or more. The weight load on our floor has been significantly reduced from end-to-end as a result.

In academia you collect awards and titles the way a boy scout collects merit badges. Instead of a sash across your chest, you arrange plaques, certificates, and photos of you with important people on one wall. Ideally, reporters photograph you standing in front of your vanity wall so everyone sees how important you are. In the last ten years my collection has spilled on to other walls. It's hard to tell at a glance how important I am. The renovation was just the excuse I needed for a vanity wall make-over.

Guess in the end the positives from the renovation outweigh the negatives. It's good to be back in my old swivel chair. And I'll look a lot better in it when my vanity wall goes back up. Until then, you can call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

1 comment:

dfougie said...

Your office (and your perspective on changes in the last twenty years) sounds like mine!~!

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