Office Before and After

So I’ve been talking about getting organized and my self-loathing at my own worst shitmongering tendencies. This morning I took an hour and tried to rectify some of that. We start here with a before picture. It’s not the most terrible situation I’ve ever seen, but I really have no excuse considering I set this up from scratch in a new office barely a week ago! As you can see, cords run everywhere, including many from the PC on the right on the floor to the big monitor on the left. As you can also see, the light from the built-in fluorescents gets eclipsed by the huge ass CRT. Even though this is a fresh office, because I needed to get things up and running ASAP you can see that things were wired up the most expedient way possible. Whatever network cable I first found, that went on the machine that most needed hooked up. It quickly became an explosion of tangled wires. Since I’m spending 8-16 hours a day working in this office, I need something better.

Today I decided to get serious on this. I powered down all computers and unplugged every single cable from everything. I laid it all out on the floor and put everything back one single item at a time. I had bought this velcro cable wrapping stuff that you can use like removable zip ties. I started by laying out the power strips where I wanted them, one at each end of the desk and a third off to the side. My guiding precepts were “place everything as close as it needs to be to other things, use the shortest posssible cable to connect it, and bundle up all possible slack.” I plugged back in the Holy Trinity of cable modem, Netgear SOHO router and Linksys WAP. For bonus points, this time I ran the cable coax through the surge protector which has two connectors for that. I happened to have two very short network cable and used those for the three adjacent connections. I then put back the two PCs and the monitor on the right side. As I connected everything up, I bundled the slack in the cable. If anything got tangled, I stopped and backed up and rearranged it so there were no tangle and no knots. I moved the KVM box from the desk, where it just took up space, to the top of the monitor. This had the added advantage of letting me rest all the bundles of slack cable on top there.

By the time I hooked up the Mac on the left and the networked Laser Printer off to the left of the desk, I had everything firmly in control. I chose power cords of appropriate length, plugged everything into the nearest power source, made the things that are frequently accessed the easiest to get to. Peter Walsh would be proud of my desk (he’d beat my ass over the rest of the office, though.) I’m not generally anal about organization like this (some of the readers of this blog are, and you know who you are.) Once I got started, it just seemed to take root. You might not be able to make it out in the photo, but with one exception, beige boxes have beige cords running to them and black boxes have black cords. I had two rolls of the velcro wrap, black and white. You guessed it – black cords got black wrap and same with white.

Now, the exact same stuff fits on the desk with no rat’s nest of cable and no tangles that pull on inappropriate things. Even though it’s all there, I have more free space on the desk and most importantly, I feel calmer and more centered and organized as I sit there. Subtly, I think this will help out my days and make me a more productive person. Dear lord, I hope so. To the sides and behind of the camera, it’s still shitville. I want to take this thinking and spread it throughout the whole room as I am able to. I really am turning over a new leaf. It’s just such a huge leaf that it can’t all be turned at one time. It is happening, just in shifts.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

2 thoughts on “Office Before and After”

  1. A messy version of anal-retentive would be “pack rat”. This is a reponse to something in your audiblog, but I thought this might be a good place to put it.

  2. I guess pack rat is the more correct term. You’ll see when you get here, I’m doing pretty well at my ongoing effort to create a place for all stuff and get all stuff in its place. It’s definitely easier to try to spend 3 minutes a day doing that than 30 hours every couple of years, and you have the advantage of tidy space for those years. I went from Saul of Tarsus Crappiness to the Apostle Paul of Tidiness!

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