My desk is small, and I like it that way. All I have is my computer, an inbox, and a place for my coffee cup. It tends to keep it free from clutter. Working from home, I also don’t always work from my desk. I’ll move to the kitchen table if I need to spread out some books or papers, sit in the living room and answer emails while watching a movie, or even update my calendar and my next steps list while laying on the bed.
I discovered that I needed was a landing pad where important stuff lived and notes and reminders could be posted. I already had a shelf in the bedroom with a glass candy dish where my keys, my wallet, and my change landed. It was a place I already visited at the beginning and end of each day, and a few times in between. It was a location I would already pass by and look at at least a dozen times a day, so it was the perfect spot.
I cleared off the rest of the shelf, removed the shelf above it, and added a small dry-erase board for appointments and other reminders. The notebook I use as a day planner lives there, along with any books I’m reading or need to read, any DVDs I need to watch, DCs I need to listen to, or thumb drives with media I need to look at. There’s a pad of sticky notes so Katie can leave me notes, or I can transfer sticky notes I’ve made and stuck to notebooks for transplant here.
(For my mockup at left, I had to pull some things due to non-disclosure agreements or privacy issues. It still gives you the idea).
The only things at the focus station (other than decorative items, like the plants and the Buddha statue) are functional and immediately relevant. No distractions. That book I want to get around to reading someday doesn’t go here. That notebook from the project that I finished last month doesn’t have a place here. Everything in the focus station is either something in progress or something that requires my attention as soon as possible. Even the Buddha is there to remind me to stay grounded, centered, and in the present moment.
Since I set it up, it has helped me maintain my focus on what I need to do today, and to maintain visibility of the thousand things I need to do soon without becoming overwhelmed by them. If you do something similar, tell us about it in the comments.