Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Before I tear my computer apart...

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Saturday, December 17, 2005

...one last post.

Okay, I'm not literally going to tear my computer apart, but I have to take everything down so I can - gasp! - get my work area organized.

Yes, this is scary. Back in March I wrote about trying to clean my desk. This is what it looks like when things are mostly put away. Scary, ain't it? If you're really brave, check out the before picture. Very scary, boys and girls.

I am not a well-organized person by nature. I come by it via heredity, I'm convinced. But I'm bound and determined to get my work area looking halfway decent before the end of the year.

Allow me to give you a quick tour:

To the left is a hutch I found for cheap years ago. It had been a display unit and one of the shelves was missing as well as most of the mounting brackets for said shelves. I replaced the brackets but decided not to get another shelf. The printer you see to the left of the monitor is gone; what you can't see is a multifunction unit to the left of it. The printer has been replaced with boxes (nice boxes, I'll say that) filled with hot project files. Behind the monitor is two old kitchen wall cabinets stacked one on top of another. Hey, it was a great way to recycle them, but the shelves are fixed and they're a pain to get into. I took the doors off of the lower cabinet, but kept them on the upper one to help hide some of the mess. To the left is my second monitor. That's a Mac IIcx that it sits on. I found it at a flea market for cheap but never got it to work. But it's just about the right height for a monitor stand. The stand under my main monitor - I don't know what it is. I found it at a Scout garage sale for under $10. It matches the desk and beat the heck out of the telephone directory that I had been using before. You can see part of one file cabinet to the right. The other is under the desk to my left. They've outlived their usefulness. I bought them at Target twenty years ago and well, they're cheap. I have to wrestle with them every time I want to get to a file.

The trick is to find something that works with the way I work. I've always got several projects going on at once and I like having the materials for each close at hand. Inadequate storage contributes to a lot of the clutter. Of course, there's also the problem of being too close to my environment. I could walk into someone else's office and see just what they need, but do you think I could do it with mine? Nope. As I told Paul yesterday, it's kind of overwhelming.

He had the day off yesterday, and he sat down with me and looked over the Ikea web site and helped me do some measuring. We chose some shelving units and then when Chris got out of school we headed out there to take a look. We ended up buying some shelving units and some boxes to help corral the papers.

I should mention that my desk is well-constructed. I bought it used, but it's a solid piece of furniture and will support the shelves and stuff. Well, if it can support the large kitchen cabinets, it can handle the shelving units. We'll need to drill some holes in the kickplates to accomodate some of the cabling, but that shouldn't be a problem.

I ended up with four shelving units - one corner piece, one to replace the cabinets, and two (a wide one and a narrow one) to replace the hutch.

Last night I started to box stuff up and discovered that I'll need more boxes for organizing stuff. I'm not suprised; I just purchased four boxes. I want to see what I'm keeping and what I'm getting rid of before I buy more boxes. I also boxed up most of the stuff that will be going back up on the shelves. It has to go somewhere for now. I had to give up before I was finished last night, but I think that I'll be finished after one more box.

Then I have to shut down the computer and remove the monitors. That will make it easier to get the old storage out and the new stuff in. I may post a picture via the laptop later on - if I have the energy. This is going to be a long, tiring job.

And while we were at Ikea, Paul picked up some bins for organizing the stuff under his electronics workbench. That's to the left, just out of the frame. It's a solid wood door mounted on cinder blocks. That was just about our first piece of furniture in here beyond a desk and credenza we'd moved from the apartment. My scanner takes up one corner, but the rest is his. Who knows? I may be able to move the scanner and give him more space.

Our plan is to go through all the stuff in this room and toss a lot of it and organize the rest. But for the time being I'll be happy to have a well-organized space in which to work.

Of course, this means I have to keep it organized. Ya think that'll happen? We'll see.


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