Thursday, October 14, 2010

Working at Home

Here's the sort of meme I'd be interested in: what does your workspace look like and how do you make it as efficient as possible? If you decide to join in, please send me a link. I'd love to see where and how you work.

[Cross posted from A Year in Barcelona]

I suppose I should be writing about our road trip through France over the weekend, but instead, as I assembled my office as I do every morning, I thought I might show you my workspace.

You see, here in Barcelona, we have a very small apartment, perhaps about 70 square meters (700 square feet), and I think that includes the hallway and the walls. It's very compact. I don't have a dedicated office space because there simply isn't room for one. Instead, I use the dining room table.

As soon as everyone leaves in the morning, I get rid of all the breakfast crumbs and make sure the table is completely clean. I hate a sticky desk.

Clean dining room table

Next, I grab the mini Belkin USB hub from the bookshelves, which is already hooked up to my wireless mouse and wired keyboard, and plug it in to the outlet on the floor.

USB hub and keyboard

Next, I grab my external monitor from the same bookshelf. I would have liked to have gotten one of those beautiful Apple jobs, but instead, I got a cheap, compact, and light LG (Mine is the M227, very similar to the one linked, but perhaps only available in Europe.) It even doubles as a TV, though I don't use it for that. The monitor goes on the table, and I plug it in as well.


I set my Macbook Pro on the corner of the table with the ports facing the monitor. It's just sleeping, I almost never turn it off. I have to plug it into the wall outlet first, or else the monitor doesn't work. Then I just plug in the monitor cable and the USB hub cable. Voilà, the monitor goes on.

Computer and iPad

Finally, I grab my fancy mouse pad (read: pad of paper of appropriate size and texture), my wireless mouse, and my stack of papers, from the bookshelf where they live during the evening and set them on the table. I'm ready to go faster than it took to read this article.

Mouse pad, papers, and coffee!

In the evening, just before everyone gets home, I reverse the process and put everything in reverse order back onto the bookshelf so they're easier to get the next morning.

I also have a printer and a scanner on the bookshelf, but only put them on my desk when I need them.

What does your workspace look like? How do you make it efficient?


  1. Hard luck Liz, it appears to be raining! My wife's parents have a place in Javea (Xabia) so we go do Spain fairly frequently especially when one of the numerous fiesta's are in full swing. I do have a dedicated office but as tidiness is not my forte perhaps a photo might not be a good idea. Enjoy your stay and thanks for your blog.

  2. 700 square feet, luxury. The place I just moved out of was 600. My office was either a kitchen table, smaller than that, or more often sitting on a foot stool in front of a coffee table. During the days I work in an office, though.

  3. Liz: In our little house we have a computer on the kitchen counter, a computer on the kitchen table, two up in Alan's office and sometimes one in the living room. The other office accessories are strewn all around. There is no hope for us. And then there are the offices at work, ugh. Jinny

  4. I've been working at home since 1994 in a variety of apartments and houses in Vermont and Montréal, and now for the past three years in our 100-year-old Montréal cottage. My home office measures about 12 by 10 feet; I've got a corner desk for my Macbook Pro and a cart for my Windows laptop and monitor; I use the Windows machine for work and the Mac for everything else. A bookshelf holds my dwindling store of computer books (gradually being replaced by e-versions), my printer, wireless router, and phone. I have one small filing cabinet; I stopped keeping paper files of most things many years ago.

    I find that having a small space helps me avoid clutter; I work best in a spare, clean environment but I'm pretty flexible and can work just about anywhere if necessary. I don't have air conditioning and my office is on the second floor; it can get brutally hot here in summer (over 100F in the office), so on those days I take my work laptop outside and work on the porch or even in the basement if it's too hot to work outside.


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