Project & Vision Wall

19 01 2010

A few months ago I was introduced to an amazing blog, New Faculty Success, a great blog for graduate students and faculty of color who are working in academia, learning the ropes of university institution and trying to balance teaching, department service, student needs, our own writing and research projects. (whew!) The author, Kerry Ann Rockquemore, has an amazing blog and weekly email called the “Monday Motivator” where she has friendly, practical and gentle support and ideas around focusing and refocusing our priorities throughout the semester and academic year. In her Oct 09 motivator, she talked about her own method for having her office space reflect her semester goals and spoke about her own organization of her work and her development of a “project wall”.

At that time, I had been thinking a lot about the spatial relationship between my own productivity in my writing and research, other projects and my workspace / meditation space, because all of these things, quite suddenly, had meshed, together. I have for a while, much like Ito – in my life and work, been feeling out of control with all of the projects I take on, my inability to say no, how that has an impact on my sometimes lack of focus.

I’ve always loved the idea of a vision wall, imagining things that I want, but as an artist, I just want to put things that inspire me to stay focused or inspire me with beauty or words that move me. But as an academic, my life is filled with deadlines, paper, books and gah! So this struggle to balance all of the work I do without going insane is a major stress in my life, and because I don’t have an office on a campus that is permanent yet, I also do a lot of work from home on my scholarly work AND my projects in the community or in the theater. Thus, my home office is a reflection of my crazy life, and somehow it always, always seems that there are multiple piles (and when I say multiple I mean piles and piles), it seems my project files never stay current, and my bill notices just pile up. (I’ve got a major addiction to paper. For some reason I have this fear of not being able to have track of my bill history and I continue to harbor a fear that technology will fail me and then I wont have a paper trail. I plan to write about this for us soon!)

A few years ago I wanted a separate room for my office, wanted the office door to be able to close, so I could be away from my work if I wanted. But I realized that, (by choice) a huge part of my life was taken up by my work and my second bedroom, was just too small for all of my office materials and project stuff. More importantly, it was constantly a mess, piles of papers, nothing could be found or was organized, and even when I hired one of my undergrads to come over and help me wade through all my crap, I still didn’t get it finished and the room was overflowing. So last year, I went for it, and I exchanged my living room and my tv / chill room because seemed the logical answer was to move into a bigger space, my open living room, so I could spread my stuff out, could be better organizes, thus be inspired to ‘get shit done’.

So its been a few months now I’ve had my workspace in the living room, and I keep finding myself constantly rearranging the space because its not working for me. there are still piles and piles still on the floor, and while I feel the “openness” that I had hoped for, my organization system still sucks.

The Goal of this office / creative space:

Four spaces:
(1)altar/ meditation space, vision wall, project planning space

(2) computer desk

(3) work desk, books, readings, some files

(4) file storage / office supplies

So far, I finally did what I wanted and started a vision wall / project wall! yay! BUT my first attempt at my project vision wall didn’t work out well. I used giant paper stickies, tacks, photo stickies, I wrote out each of my projects, future projects, deadlines, goals and my ‘how to get there” plans. (sorry no before photo here) A lot right? But somehow it ended up being nothing but a project wall, with no room for visioning and beauty. and the flexibility of it was all wrong because things were written in pen. If I had changing deadlines or changing goals, it just wasn’t functional. Additionally, it just looked messy with the big giant stickies and things written in colored pen, and I kept feeling self conscious because its so extremely personal and since I’m constantly having meetings at my house, it just wasn’t working.

So taking Kerry Ann’s idea about creating an organized project wall with my writing projects only on it, I rearranged and came up with this. My mediation/ vision wall on the left and my project wall on the right. I need a lamp but over all im totally happy with how it turned out.

You can see I am still and will be constantly in creation of the vision wall, as I want it to grow as I grow. The other photo is a moveable, changeable project wall with deadlines and projects for this semester attached to each clip.

now if I could just get the rest of the office. These are photos of the entire office with a below closeup of ONE of my piles of papers. If you look carefully, you’ll see the strategically places table and table cloth to cover up the files when company comes. and the left side… the red bookcase, yeah.. no organization there, I just picked up stuff off the floor and put it in the bookcase. It only looks cute.





Making Connections

19 12 2009

Yesterday Ito and I met up to discuss our venture of combining forces like the Wonder Twins to dedicate ourselves to organizing our homes, which are also our creative spaces.

We spent our first segment of time focusing on many thing but here are the things I was thinking about:

– As we work through this process over the next months, when will we know when we are taking too much time? For example, when we try to use freecycle or craigslist or have a yard sale vs. just taking it to salvation army and kissing it goodbye?
– what are our short and long term plans?
– what do we hope to implement as a part of our lifestyle?
– how does Ito use each space?
– what spaces does she need that are being ‘made’ in other spaces?
– creating a family organizing day and two days a year where they all pitch in and re-locate things back to where they belong.
– what are our own cycles of cleanliness? Ito’s is different because she has a family, I’m a single gal who cleans when my mom or friends are coming over.
– how did we get here?

Stuff I’m doin until we meet again:

– I’ll be reading “Organizing from the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern and getting ideas, tips and letting you all know what I think of it. I like already that it acknowledges that there is something standing between me and my goal of complete organizational bliss, mental roadblocks, quirks, psychological stuff, etc.

– I’ll also be doing my photographic Tour of Shame, even though we’re gonna be focusing on Ito’s house for a while first.





The Dream of Simplicity

18 12 2009

I have piles. Giant piles of papers. Boxes of papers from classes, research I’ve done, research I’m doing, projects I have, bills, taxes past and present, scrap paper, art paper, post its. I have piles of books that don’t fit into my bookshelves, I have piles of papers and articles in my closets just crammed on top of each other and those big giant plastic bins that are NOT see through piled on top of each other filled with more crap. My office, is in my front room. There is a constant and growing pile of papers littered on both the left and right sides of my desk from the projects I’m working on.

I have a bunch of bins that supposedly hold all of my tools and household hardware ‘thangs’. Please. I have no idea what are inside those bins. They are piled in the guest room closet.

My bedroom is a constant pile of clothes, clean clothes never make it into my closets. I have about 4 or 5 clothes baskets that you cant tell what is clean and what is dirty. My hamper is always full to the brim with dirty clothes. When people come over, I sweep the clothes off my bed, onto the floor and then shove them into my closet with the baskets piled on top of them.

I have a storage that I’ve had for about 6 years. Why? I don’t even know what is IN there aside from my camping stuff which makes sense because I live in an apartment without a garage or outside storage space. Its packed from the floor to the ceiling with … stuff. I don’t know what’s in there! Stop harassing me!

oh… sorry.

Whenever I’ve traveled out of the country, or gone on extended vacations or been somewhere for more than a few weeks, I always come back to my house wishing I could just gut this thing and start over. I look around, having lived with nothing but the clothes on my back, my computer and a few toiletries, I always think, I don’t need all this shit. Yet, somehow I hold on to it. My style is not a sleek, modern style, I’m definitely a gal who loves a little shabby chic, but messy and cluttered – NOT. However, I know there has to be a way I can marry the lessons from modern style and its simplicity to help release me from all this stuff. I’ve always been someone who believes the way that someone cares for their space is a reflection of themselves in some way. If this is my reflection, um, ew.

Its time to let go, release and get down to the simple things. I’m finding it hard to focus on my work with all these things piling up around me.