Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Professional Office ~ 7 Nuts & Bolts

No two ways about it, I am blessed with the most wonderful office space! 

Thanks to the generosity of Bob and Dot Eckler in whose home Creekside Ministries resides, I enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a bubbling fountain, always-busy bird feeders, and a rolling green hill that leads down to the Wappingers Creek.  {Hence, our name!}  A wall of shelves houses books, collectibles that make me smile, and framed photos.  Comfy gliders and a few other pieces of furniture fill this space and a gorgeous handcrafted quilt resides on the wall.  I've worked hard over the years to design a pastoral counseling office that's warmly personal, quiet, and relaxing.

For my clients.  For me. 

Yet for the life of me, I can't remember reading anything about de-cluttering and organizing professional office spaces.  And yet, this room's components are important because it's not all about me.  It's about how people feel and what they experience when stepping foot through that door.  Is it a serene and welcoming space, free of clutter and piles and junk?  After all, many who enter are already carrying enough stuff in hearts and minds.  They don't need be visually overwhelmed or assaulted, they need to feel safe and be soothed as they settle in for an appointment.

Not long ago I penned a few paragraphs {in all of about 300 seconds!} on reorganizing the counseling officeHere's a 7 nuts and bolts follow up:

1.   BOOKS
I love books.  And for a long time I saved every book I ever bought, ever received, ever stumbled upon.  The feel of them in my hands, the smell of them, the hours savored with them.   Everything about them spoke comfort, knowledge, nurturance, enjoyment to me.

But you know ... enough can be enough.  Over time the shelves got jam packed and when I actually stopped long enough to really see what was all there, I knew they didn't need to be all there anymore.  So ... good-bye to volumes I've never opened that hold no interest to me now.  Farewell to books and professional journals that I did read that I wouldn't bother looking at again, and to volumes back from 20, 30 years ago that I bought for school or have long run their course.  Bagged, shared, donated, sold.  They are going, going, gone.

These big ol' metal-ringed binders are books' cumbersome cousins.  And I had accumulated stacks of these space gobblers from every class I ever took, every conference I ever attended, every seminar I ever sat through.  Did keeping all these three-ringed babies somehow make me feel smarter or more accomplished?  Or did I feel guilty giving them the heave-ho since they represented so much money and time invested in education? 

Doesn't matter.  I pulled out the info that was worth saving {surprisingly little}, and threw the rest in a huge garbage bag which I hauled out the door with great glee. 

For a long time, I clipped every magazine/journal/newspaper article and grabbed every brochure I ever came across that was remotely related to counseling, coaching, ministry, or leadership.  I had quite the file drawer filled with what was probably very worthwhile material at one point.  Problem was that I seldom if ever went back and glanced at them a second time.

Fast forward to 2013.  Everything I need is online.  Period.  These files are all heading out the door, one manila five tab at a time.  I'll never miss them.  And I'm gaining another file drawer in the process.

We're using DVDs now and all kinds of techno stuff online.  The VCR tapes are history and are out of there.  When it comes to soul-soothing background music, Pandora has saved the day.  The CD player is long gone and the stacks of old CDs are headed out the door to be donated or sold.

Unless it's just plain too hot, a candle faithfully burns on the coffee table in front of our chairs. The scent speaks nurturance and comfort.  The flame is symbolic of the Holy Spirit's presence and activity during these pastoral counseling sessions. 

Beautiful green plants and lovely flowers speak of vibrant life and healthy growth.  If something in the pot has lost it's vigor and bloom, in the trash it goes.

What can I say?  A good paper shredder is one of an office's best friends.

This all works for me.  And based on what my clients tell me, it's a space that's working for them



  1. Ooh, I like this post. I equate clutter with stress.
    My home is small with small rooms, so I keep decorations and "things" to a minimum (not to mention we have four kids - and when those three boys were small, breakables got broken).
    I am pleased and feel blessed when people who visit our home say that it always feels peaceful. I attribute that to the lack of clutter, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, of course.

    1. Yep, Elizabeth, I'm with you when it comes to clutter = stress! Inside the head, inside the home, wherever.


  2. What great ideas! We've been doing a lot of de-cluttering and evaluating what we really need. It's amazing how things accumulate surrounded with good intentions to read or watch. Instead we've begun to periodically go through each room, evaluating what we still need, and donating or removing that which we don't. Great post.

    1. Hey Jonathan ... I love that you're doing the whole evaluating and de-cluttering thing now and not waiting til you've been married for decades! AARRGGHH! Overwhelming that would be!

      Hugs for your beautiful, brilliant woman ~

      Aunt Linda

  3. I am so there!!!

    {via email}


Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


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