Friday, July 22, 2011

A Room of One's Own...Outside the Home

We've been in our house almost three weeks now, and last week was the first week we started working on our own stuff (article revision for me, HR stuff and office move-in for Hubby). After more than a month of being with the kids, primarily Eliza and Amelia, I was anxious for some quality time with my work. I was excited to return to some sense of normalcy, something that resembles a schedule. The first thought in my head last Monday morning was, "I can't wait to get to the office!" And then it hit me: I don't have an office to go to. Not one on a school campus anyway. For the first time in 10 years of teaching at the university-level, I do not have an official work space of my own .

Even though I had previously always shared an office with one other person (sometimes two), rarely was I ever in the office with an officemate at the same time. I've always treated my job as a regular 9:00-5:00 gig, which isn't terribly common for many graduate students. I've never enjoyed working at home because I'm tempted to do "home things" like fold laundry, clean the kitched, put away dishes, etc. I also don't like the idea of having home/family and work in the same physical space. I function much better at both when I have a separate space of my own in which I can work.

But now, this isn't an option. New England School puts 5-6 visiting lecturers in one large office area for the purpose of meeting with students, etc. I have no idea what this space looks like, or if people are given a desk of their own. Either way, the space is not meant to be a work space for people doing research or writing.

What I have is our fourth bedroom at home, which will serve as my home office. We've bought a futon, mattress, and bedding to use when we have guests, and the room is large enough that neither my work space nor the guest space will feel too cramped if someone is visiting. The guest space aspect is great, but I'm feeling odd and uncomfortable about a home office as my work space. I've never done this before. I almost feel confined and isolated, and it's really unclear how this will work with our plan to carpool together to campus. We're trying to save money on gas, but if my time between classes is the primary time I have to get work done, I don't know how I'll do it on campus. Hubby and I have already planned on sharing his campus office to some extent, but again, I don't know how well that will work either. We both have very different work habits (for example, he listens to music, while I need silence to concentrate).

There's just so much uncertainty about how this will work out, and I don't do well with uncertainty. Does anyone? The best I can do for now is get started on rennovating the room. Just like all the other rooms in the house (except the kitchen), it has awful wallpaper (though I've almost gotten it all stripped down). Once I finish stripping the first layer, I'll take off the second layer, prep, tape, and primer the walls, then paint. I'm thinking of going with this color:

It's a Pantone color called Emberglow...What do you think? It's warm with some punch, but not overbearing or off-putting. I dont' think I'd paint all four walls with it, though...maybe just two? I bought two new, 5-shelf bookshelves, both of which are already full, and my desk is on its way now. I'm going to do my best to enjoy the space, but I already miss not having a professional space on campus, where I can feel more connected to the department. I know plenty of people do this all the time, but this is my first time, and it's going to take some getting used to.


QueSera said...

Good luck with your home office. I moved away from my grad school area to return to my husband after quals and wrote my dissertation at home and when researching. I had a home office until my son was born and then had to move to our bedroom. It works out, especially if you still choose to treat it as a 9 to 5 job. No home work during that time. Keep similar break times, have lunch ready, etc. I really like being able to get up and just work.

M said...

This is hard, but it can be done. For the first three years I was at CU, I didn't have an office of my own. As you know, I worked (mostly) in Archer's office. This worked, and it didn't. It was difficult b/c I'd have to abruptly stop working if a student came to see him, and lots of times he'd forget to tell me when a student was coming to see him. That said, I found I could work in Archer's office. I also found a few quiet places around campus where I could retreat to when I couldn't be in Archer's office. It is difficult, but it isn't impossible.