Confession: I’ve had a hard time writing lately. It’s challenging to know what’s helpful, tone-deaf, encouraging, Pollyanna-ish…you get my drift.

Another confession: Over the past several weeks I’ve bounced from being incredibly productive, to completely lethargic, to kind of confused. Over and over. I’m like a Roomba – either motoring around doing my job or stuck spinning in circles. I think some of it has to do with things returning to a sort-of, kind-of  “normal,” but not being sure we can trust it.

But in this somewhat easier time, I’ve come to appreciate again just how much my home office space supports me – or holds me back. Aha. Now there might be a topic. Not so much the home office angle – there have been plenty of articles and posts about productive Work-From-Home setups already. But instead, how can a space encourage you to do the things that make you, you?

We’re all aware that a well-ordered space makes life easier, that we love looking at those attractive, organized closets and shelves online…and dreaming. But what needs to be taken into consideration in a space to help you express yourself, to support your unique brand of success?

My office setup is pretty ideal for me – it’s been helping me to get through the past two-and-a-half years in lots of little, but impactful ways. I have a small desk (yet another confession: I actually hate sitting at a desk), a pillow-filled corner (where I DO like to sit), my bookshelves (full), my plant (Edmund), my favorite prints and photos on the walls.

The room makes sense for both who I am and how I need to work right now. When I let the irrelevant paperwork pile up, or the books get out of whack, I notice more than ever how unsettled and unproductive it makes me feel*. If I can’t settle in quickly for a Zoom meeting, or to write or meditate, I know it’s at least partially due to how the room is working, or not working. Would my office be a perfect setup for you? I doubt it. That’s cool.


A leafy green potted plant on a side table.
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Allow me to introduce my Pachira aquatica, Edmund.

One of the questions I ask clients when they are wrestling with what to do with an object is: “Does this ______(bowl, receipt, extension cord, bottle of sanitizer, etc.) help you to be successful?” Because success can show up in lots of ways.


suc·cess (from

the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

also: the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals

Synonyms: advance, achievement, benefit, gain, realization, progress


Taking it one step further we might ask: “Does this particular space help you to be successful?” Is it helping you make progress, or making things easier for you? If not, the next step is figuring out what would make the difference. Not just getting rid of clutter, but considering arrangement, colors, tools, lighting, your physical characteristics – everything that can make a space, and you, progress.


  • Does your den give you the benefit of curling up for some uninterrupted time with a great book?
  • Will your “she-shed” or “man cave” advance your creativity, or fitness, or relaxation?
  • Does your garage help you to realize the goal of working on that classic car?
  • Can you move the way you want to move in your laundry room?
  • Can your pantry assist you in making lunch with your family?
  • Does your office welcome you to work and make progress?
  • Does your closet encourage you to get ready easier, with less decision fatigue?


And so on. It’s an obvious but under-appreciated fact that when we look at disorganized spaces, we’re frequently focused on how awful they make us feel. If we can see past that overwhelm to what kind of supportive environment is possible, maybe even see the organization as an act of creativity in and of itself, it spurs the process on.

The positive approach doesn’t necessarily make the organizing and decluttering go faster (sorry), but deciding and choosing with your affirming, progress-oriented outlook in mind can change the whole tone. Maybe not faster, but certainly easier. When I’ve been stuck lately, if I have the presence of mind to ask myself what would feel good to clear (as opposed to how bad I let things get), I start moving again.

Before I started this post, I cleaned out a drawer and rearranged some books on the shelf. And I felt a bit more centered, less spinny.  Just enough to keep going. I’ve witnessed the effect play out repeatedly – when a room is being successful for its owner, all sorts of new and positive things open up for them.

*I do not own an “autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner”, but I noted with interest in doing my research that what often causes them to spin in circles is, unsurprisingly, debris and/or obstructions.