Preparing To Travel: Reducing the Size of My Office

This weekend, I got a wild hair. No big surprise for most of you, but it happens from time to time. I decided I needed to start arranging my office in the Airstream to take up less space. Right now, the Airstream is only for my office, but in a couple years, it will be “shared space” when we hit the road. Between now and then, I need to determine how to get everything I need into a much smaller footprint. MUCH smaller. So, I’m starting now. After all, if there’s something that’s horrible that I simply cannot abide, I’d rather know now. I’d like the opportunity to discover and fix the problem before three of us are living full time in the space I’m currently calling “My office” (emphasis on the ‘MY”).

I thought I’d be able to live with just the tablet, for example. So I tried going back to working on a single screen. It ain’t a’gonna happen. Period. I despise the conformity of not being able to keep a window I’m using open on a second monitor and cutting and pasting, dragging or referring to that material in the other screen.

My father just got this beautiful new 22″ screen. He, who has always run 3+ screens on his primary computer, says it’s nice enough and big enough that he’s going to get rid of all the others and have that as his main screen. Uh huh. SURE he is. That’s not gonna happen either — but I’ll wait for him to make that discover on his own. He tells me it has as many pixels as the other two combined — but he’s just bragging, that has nothing to do with the convenience of having two plots of visual real estate for juggling stuff. He will be back with multiple monitors in no time, and I’m going to keep my two.

Now, I have to figure out how to do that. I can’t have a desk big enough to hold two screens, so I’ll have to get creative. I’m looking at “ergonomic” arms that hold screens from a wall mount or a table clamp. I worry about drilling holes into the walls of the Airstream, and I worry that jarring around will loosen them off a “table clamp” and crash my beautiful 19′ Sony to the floor. So, I’m wallowing in tormented “what if” country while I try to make these decisions.

My sub woofer is too big. It’s WAY too big. I’ll have to look into those smaller speakers and hope that they aren’t all “tinny” sounding. I could replace the speakers in the Airstream with nicer, upscale speakers and use those — but I’m not sure I want stereo surround sound when I work once the family joins me in the Airstream. Right now, that would ROCK — but they may not like having their tiny little bit of personal space invaded with my “dings” and such.

I need better lighting. I’ve been handling it with a desk lamp and multiple overhead lamps so far, but the fact is, I’ll need less power intensive and more “task” oriented lighting so I can work while others sleep or do their own thing. Most of what I’m planning will easily transfer into any office any where when I’m finished, but making a readily “portable” and full-featured office is proving to be quite a challenge.

I have found my desk — it’s a tiny little thing and I’ll be replacing all the fiberboard parts with real wood as I have the time. For now, it’s pretty nice. It works. My new smaller desk chair is horrid. It’s not comfortable and I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. Right now, I’m busy hating it and being overly conscious of my butt while I work (because it’s complaining and begging for the plush chairs it’s accustomed to occupying). Either it will have to toughen up, or I’ll have to break down and get a better chair. Time will tell.

I still have to finish up going “paperless” and I did quite a bit of that this weekend. I’m hiring someone to help me finish up that task. Then, I’ll need to come up with a good way to transport media and determine how to handle reference books. Not all of my books are on disk yet. And… I have to buy a new external hard drive, because my main one died and I’m running daily work on the backup drive which is scary.

All told, I think I trimmed the office’s footprint by about 50% over the weekend. There is still debris from the project everywhere, but once that’s cleaned up, I’ll be going for another 50% reduction. That will be the final size. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.