Last weekend I did a major clearout of my office/studio. It was long overdue and had slowly turned from a room in my house that I loved, to a room that I was dreading going into. The clutter had gotten so bad that I had taken to working in Starbucks far more than I was actually working at home – just so I could have a clear table to work on!
I do really enjoy working in cafes and make a point of doing it at least once or twice a week. Mostly because I can. It’s an important reminder to me that I quit my job, in part, so that I could have that freedom to decide where and when I worked. And I like pretty lattes and hot chocolates. They’re more fun to take pictures of than the ones I make at home.
But working out of coffee shops every day gets sooooo expensive and, they won’t let me bring my puppy inside and I really miss it when he’s not lying at my feet while I work.
Plus, what do you do when all that tea makes you have to pee and you don’t want to leave your laptop all by itself for somebody to walk away with? These are the challenges I have! (haha)
So a clear out was in the cards.
I have two desks in my office. A big white table where I do the bulk of my work and a smaller wooden desk behind me that, basically, holds all the junk I don’t want to look at while I’m working. Out of site out of mind.
The only problem is, the wooden desk is the first thing I see when I walk in the door and it makes me cringe!
A good afternoon of work meant I got rid of 5 garbage bags full of stuff as well as 3 boxes (mostly to be given away).
I found six (6!) full sized bedroom pillows in my prop closet. I didn’t even know they were there. I have no idea why they were there or how long they were there. I don’t ever even remember having that many extra pillows! It wouldn’t be that odd except for the fact that I have 6 more extra pillows already in the linen cupboard down the hall!
Anyway, all that to say that I have reclaimed my office… and both my desks! And so I did something I’ve wanted to do since reading Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. I created an analog desk for myself! (PS… if you ever do anything creative, I highly recommend you read it and Austin’s newest book, Show Your Work – they’re short, entertaining reads but packed with great advice).
Basically, Austin’s workflow (he’s a writer and an artist) is that he has a digital desk and an analog desk and they’re exactly what they sound like. The digital desk contains the computer, phone, tablets, mouse, cords, cables, etc. The analog desk is technology free. (I think in his case, Austin allows an electric pencil sharpener on his analog desk). The moment I read about this, a few years ago, I knew it was something I wanted.
My Analog Desk
And now I have one. I cleared off my wooden desk completely. While I was cleaning out my prop closet I found a white plastic tablecloth and I used that as a surface cover. This is great for two reasons
- now I have two white desks and it makes the room feel brighter and more open
- the plastic cover gives me freedom to make a mess with my paints and markers without wrecking the desk and it’s easy to clean up
The desktop holds my Weck jars full of the supplies I use most regularly:
- my pencils
- my Pitt Markers
- my paint brushes
- my ink pens
I keep whatever project I’m working on in plain site – this reminds me to take time out every day and work on something with my hands but, it also makes me happy when I walk into my office and the first thing I see is my jars full of colour and my art (and generally, my doodles make me happy!) instead of stacks of stuff I need to deal with that stress me out.
I also keep a couple of white boards that I lean against the wall – they prop up whatever is giving me inspiration in that moment (right now I’m digging spring colours). And I have my paints, my water container, my superfabulousamazing eraser that doesn’t smudge or wreck paper and washi tape (mostly because it’s pretty)
There’s also an old flat screen monitor – it’s only there because I have nowhere else to put it and, right now, it’s being used to tape images to that I’ve ripped out of magazines because I like the colour combinations.
There’s a shelf pullout below the desk top (it was originally for a computer keyboard) and I’ve used that for all my extra art supplies – extra sketchbooks and art papers, my lettering notes, my big box of pencil crayons, hand lettering guides, extra white boards that I use for photo reflectors amongst other things, etc.
It’s also very easy to clear a space for photography so that makes me really happy too and the light is pretty good.
The side of the desk has two shelves that I use to hold books that I use. Next to that is my bean bag chair that I like to sit in to read with a cup of tea or watch movies on my iMac, which is across the room on the digital desk (and when I do this, Sam will lie with his head on my feet and I get an instant foot warmer!). So the shelves have an empty space that fits a cup of tea and a plate for cookies. It’s a very functional desk!
So far, I’m loving it. It’s so calming to have a space with no technology on it, nothing beeping or pinging at me, no email, no glare. I can get quite lost in it and it helps me relax and get into a creative zone. And, because I’ve moved a ton of my art stuff from my digital desk to the analog desk, I actually feel less stressed at my digital desk now as well – less clutter.
All round it was a great decision. I hope you enjoyed my tour of my analog desk. And thank you Austin Kleon, for the idea and letting me to steal it like an artist!