Creating an Ideal Workspace

This week I (Abigail) have been moving back into my house after a summer at the in-laws because a slab leak destroyed our first floor and we had to get the whole thing replaced. As I was putting my office back together, Kate and I talked about how we set up our offices, and why. We spend a lot of time on our computers, and making our work space an inspiring and productive place means we will look forward to spending the hours slaving away at our stories. So Kate and I put together this post to share what our offices look like!

Abigail's Office

We have had this house for five years, and both Zach and I have worked from home the whole time. So the office houses both our desks. We're still unpacking, so I'm only showing you my side of the office, but we have identical desks/file cabinets. We found a pair of Restoration Hardware desk sets on Craigslist--it was such a steal--and had them refinished. I hook my laptop up to a monitor and have plenty of desk space for my planner and all my notebooks (see this blog post). 

I finally have the wall decor set, and I really really love it. I have had my photo chosen as a cover image for magazines 13 times since I started working in equine media. The first was for the American Quarter Horse Journal, when I was an intern. It was such a life-changing affirmation of my career path at 22 years old, and the AQHA family gave me a large print of the cover after it ran. So for each of the covers I have had, I had the image foam-board mounted and placed it on an Ikea picture ledge. I've also hung my first-place awards from the American Horse Publications Seminar--it's a huge honor to be recognized for these efforts. The wall is finished up with my diploma from Texas A&M, a Western Horseman calendar and a quote about children from Jen Hatmaker that reminds me to work hard when it's time to work so that I can get back to spending time with my two babies. My coaster and mousepad are from the APHA General Store--I get such a kick out of seeing MY photos on APHA merchandise! I have a photo of my dear old horse Willy, some spur bookends I welded in college, and I've got a Breyer from the AHP seminar to finish things up.

I keep books and magazines for reference everywhere in the office. Magazines I write for, and magazines I don't (and maybe want to write for!). It's so important to match the magazine style when writing a piece, so I'll keep an issue on my desk as I write. I try to flip through some past issues before I pitch stories when I can.

I love my office setup. The office is located by the front door of our house. We have French doors so I can close it to be secluded, but I can still hear some of what's going on in the other rooms. I work in here, and when I'm done I shut the doors and go into the rest of the house. I rarely work anywhere else but the office, so it's one way I keep a little work separation.

Kate's Office

When I had the opportunity to create my home office, I knew that I wanted a space that felt like me. I wanted my oversize green leather chair, something my friends have dubbed "the throne," and my favorite mementos from horse shows and traveling. Surrounded by my favorite things, in a dedicated space where I go only to work, it is a win-win. Slowly, I am adding photos to the already-hung wall art. My favorite photos from trips and different shoots--not necessarily the best technically, but MY favorite creations--help to inspire me. In addition to having a dedicated office, this room has an "extra" door to our backyard. It is perfect for me to open on nice days to let in the outdoors. My dog is my constant companion, and it allows him easy access outside without disrupting my work flow every now and again. 

Everyone's work space is different. The one thing I have taken away from working with others in an office and am attempting to incorporate in my space is to add my own work. My photo mentors, Darrell Dodds and Ross Hecox, both had their own photos hanging in their Western Horseman offices. It serves as a measure of your work, inspiration to do better, and a reminder that you can do it - even on those days where we all feel like we are failing. 

Happy work space tips

1. Make it functional

Choose a chair and a desk that are the right height for you. I've gotten major wrist and neck pain from sitting in an improperly set up space. We spend hours at our desks, so make sure that you are ergonomic!

That doesn't mean that you can't lounge in a recliner to work. But where you put the most hours--it's helpful to have a good setup.

It's also nice to choose a spot with strong wi-fi, good lighting and access to a printer.

2. Personalize

Part of the fun of being a freelancer is having a space all your own. Both Kate and I have filled our offices with objects that inspire us in our work, or stir our creativity. Think about items that spark your creative juices and encourage you!

3. Clear the clutter

Both of us cleaned before we took these photos--full confession. I personally try to clear off my desk right before i start writing a story and a big clean up after I've finished a round of deadlines. I am not naturally tidy, but I can't work as well in a messy space. I changed up my bookcase beside my desk, so I'm re-thinking where to put some items that will make the desk less busy!

Abigail Boatwright