Setting up my new home office

my desk set-up 2020

While much of the world is starting to adapt to a life of working from home, I am in the process of setting up a home office in preparation for my new life. What form that will take exactly, I’m not sure.

I was recently laid-off from my job of 19 years. This lay-off occurred just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the globe. Unlike other people who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic, I was already unemployed and largely staying at home before our current shelter-at-home policy took effect.

I had not really started thinking about how or where I would work until the shelter-at-home requirements had been put into place. My timing is terrible, I know. The BWI Pen Show and the Arkansas Pen Show were immediately after my lay-off and I hoped they would provide an infusion of funds and much-needed time with friends and penthusiasts.

Once I returned home after the Arkansas Pen Show, I realized it was time to get serious about dusting off my resume and portfolio and start planning for my new life, whatever form that may take.

Part of that planning included needing to set-up an actual work space at home. Previously, I had been making do, working from the kitchen counter or precariously balancing my CINTIQ on the edge of a tiny tabletop when freelance work was needed. This was not comfortable or the least bit ergonomic.

Initially, we were planning to acquire various new pieces from IKEA including an adjustable standing desk, new drawer units and accessories however the whole non-essential travel ban made it necessary to think inside the box. By that I mean, we needed to poke around our packrat house and try to locate items we could use or reuse. Bob found an old, extra-large (30″x40″) drafting board in the basement that he had purchased at a yard sale several years ago. He got out the power sander and some stain and urethane and refinished the drafting board into a new worktop for me. He also found an old set of IKEA legs at the print shop and mounted them on the bottom. Voila! a new-old desk.

my desk set-up 2020

It has enough room for my CINTIQ touch screen, laptop, bluetooth keyboard and some pretty bits so that it doesn’t feel too austere.

my desk set-up 2020

We rescued an old metal drawer unit from the print shop as well that I could use to put various ephemera bits. It currently has our postal scale (yes, we are still shipping out orders!) and I’ve added a couple of my Dudek pen blocks so I have both beautiful and useful writing tools at the ready.

Things on my desk

Also on my desk are:

And before anyone asks, it looks like the cover on my laptop is no longer available on Amazon but similar designs can be found here.

Have you set-up a work-from-home space? Are you making do on your couch or kitchen table? Or are you still able to go to your job wherever it may be?

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hey there Ana. I’ve worked from home for years and had settled into a nice routine with a very nice home office. My pens, notebooks, stationery, etc were right at hand. You may have noticed the past tense…. I became a COVID RIF statistic yesterday. Still at home but less to do. Your desk looks great and I hope you are doing well!0

  2. Hey Ana. I’m sorry to hear you were laid off. It’s such a rough time for so many. My niece is an audio engineer for an events company in St. Louis and she and 30 of her co-workers were laid off last week. Her view is that she was looking to find a new place to work anyway, and this was impetus for a job search. But it’s still hard and she’s looking at moving home for a while.

    Your desk looks great–so much tidier than mine, that’s for sure. I was already teaching online, so that was no big change, but moving our writing center entirely online has been a challenge. We do have good staff support, though, so that helped.

    Love, love, love the bunny ears scissors! I’ve never seen it anywhere else. So cool.

  3. Hey Ana. I’m so sorry about your job. As someone who’s also unemployed (still looking for my first job after graduate school, a 7-month search that has been totally stopped by COVID-19) I really loved this post. In the months since I moved back to my parents’ house to job hunt I totally re-did my childhood room, to make it into a space where I could work without feeling like a failure and actually make progress towards crafting a new life for myself. I covered part of my desk with green tartan, then made a display for my fountain pens & ink inspired by a potion master’s office. My computer lives there, while my journals have a spot on a little secretary’s bureau right next to my bed, so I can write at night. A space where you feel good, can do so much for your work & sense of self.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you, too, are looking for work but I’m glad you’ve found a place of your own to write, think and plan for the future… whatever form that may take. My fingers are crossed that you find a good position soon.

  4. I’m really sorry — and a touch aggravated — that you were laid off. I’m glad you have your new workspace set up and moved into, though.

  5. Ana,

    I was quite worried when you mentioned the news of possible layoffs coming, and am now quite sad to hear that you were among those who lost their jobs. I hope that, as the pandemic clears (we can only hope that it clears as swiftly as it spread), you will find something worthy of your considerable talents quickly. Your workspace looks quite nice.

    I’m rolling towards my retirement (which should happen shortly after the Dallas Pen Show, unless COVID messes that up, too) and wondering if I will have some normal work time before I head out. I have moved the cat tree in the living room, put out a white six foot folding table and set up a workspace of my own. I grabbed a Thunderbolt Display that had been left behind when a visiting professor left the department, hooked up a mechanical keyboard and a good wireless mouse to my venerable MacBook Pro, and my computing need are solved. Apart from the cats thinking that the table is their new cat tree, it’s working very well. As the “shelter in place” time looks like it will extend more than the current two week order, I have started putting more personal touches, which is where the pens come in. Until today, they were laid on they table with my paper. I had to make a support visit to my office today, so I brought my Dudek Pen holder (I don’t remember the exact model and I don’t see it on the Modern Goods website (it has two grooves for notebooks and came with two ink bottles)) with me when I returned home. I still need to bring my office ink stand home, but my workspace is starting to look better – more like my work area. In some ways, this is a trial run for setting up an office space for retirement.

    Thanks for all that you do and stay safe! I truly hope that you can find a good job soon!

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