A Nomadic Office

The next phase of my ADHD-friendly office redesign is to create a “nomadic office.” Once it’s fully functional, I think it’s going to rival my standing desk as a work-flow game changer!

Lenore developed the concept of a Nomadic Office in order to assist with my ADHD and at the same time meet our whole family’s needs in relation to my work space. So she’s going to take over the next few sections to explain it!

After Lenore’s section, I’ll explain how to get started on creating a Nomadic Office for yourself.

This week, we’re going to stick to the concept: how we came up with it and the general principles that anyone can use. Next week, we’ll elaborate on how we made it happen in my office (with even more pictures!!!)

Creating the Nomadic Office

The design challenges

A major challenge in Carmen’s office is that she and her husband John share the desk. While they each have laptops, they also use a desktop computer for editing photos. John also uses the desk and computer for his music hobby.

Another challenge is that the office area is part of a larger family room. It’s next to the tv, near the couch, and in the same room as their daughter’s art supplies.

Additionally, the room has multiple windows and doors as well as a pull-down staircase to an attic. This limits the possible furniture arrangements and organizations of the zones.

Design Analysis

Our analysis combined self-observation and discussion. Carmen’s ADHD is a prominent issue for her. She’s never had a workspace that fully worked for her, and her needs can seem quite random.    [It’s totally true!!!!-CN]

For example, she realized during her self-observation that creating a tight feeling on her scalp helps her concentrate when writing. Because of this she needs a place at her desk for hair elastics and headbands. Neither of us had ever thought of these as office supplies before!

By observing her and talking with her, I came to the conclusion that what she needed was an office that could be easily transported to wherever she was most comfortable working that day.

We often find Carmen in the dining room

The concept: easy to move, easy to tidy

For the ADHD component the main thing was to have everything she needed visible and within reach when she needed it.

Just as vitally important, she needed to be able to put things away super easily.  This is something that while certainly not unique to ADHD, tends to be a larger stumbling block for those who have it.

‘Easy to tidy up’ was also important because the desk is visible while relaxing and watching TV, so any mess or unfinished work is prominent and can add stress to family members using the space for relaxing.

It’s also important that the desk itself can be a workspace for the different members of the household without their work or hobbies interfering with each other.

The core of the Nomadic office: activity packs

This tin contains Carmen’s essential office supplies

We worked through the activities that happen in the space for each household member, and then developed easy-to-move, easy-to-tidy solutions. The main activities are:

  • Writing on the computer
  • Writing manually
  • Photo editing
  • Electronic music
  • Laptop charging

There were also some permanent storage needs. These were:

  • Files and notebooks Carmen uses for work
  • Photography equipment
  • Midi board (for electronic music)
  • Office supplies (pens, pencils, hair bands)
  • Various cords for linking electronics

Some of these things, such as the Midi board, only have to move from a storage area to the desk and back. The laptop charging station was moved to an area near, but not on, the desk (more on that next week). 

This solved most of the room-sharing problems. But additionally, we wanted to meet Carmen’s tendency to work all around the house and occasionally outside of it.

For this, we have a number of nesting components. A small hanging file box holds her planning file and has room for growth. We bought a large tin box that holds a few pens, business cards, the hard drive where she stores photos, a USB key, and post-its. This and her bullet journal fit into the hanging file and can be easily moved around the house. 

What could be easier than chucking your stuff in this container?

Next week we’re going to talk in more detail about the design components: the furniture and wall storage that complete the design of this particular office.

Your own Nomadic Office

Carmen here again!

When Lenore brought up the idea of a Nomadic Office, it made immediate sense to me.

Self-assessment was a major part of this office redesign, and when I started thinking of my needs in terms of embracing my “nomadic” tendencies, I realized that I needed some non-design additions in order to support my work habits.

For example, I bought a solid-state hard drive to store my photos on. I wanted to be able to access them without internet (so no cloud) and in a variety of locations on different computers. 

It took about 4 months of self-assessment, but that included a lot of thinking through my actual work flow. Since my work needs have changed a lot, this was more than a design project on my end. If you already have pretty clear work habits, your self-assessment might be much shorter!

Self assessment

To begin your self assessment, you basically need to create a baseline and then spend some time thinking about what is working and what isn’t.

  1. Write down everything in your space, at least in broad terms.
  2. Tidy up your space to the point that it is comfortable or at least workable.
  3. Note anything that doesn’t have a good storage place but should remain in the space. Things that don’t need to be in that space can be taken elsewhere (even if they don’t have a good spot in the place they need to be).
  4. Over the next week or so, note what things find their way back to your space.
  5. Note anything that you want to have but isn’t there.
  6. After the first week or so, start a master list of “must haves” in your space.
  7. On a separate sheet, start a master list of activities that happen in your space.
  8. You can start problem-solving now, or repeat the first steps, and reassess periodically until you feel your master lists are complete.

Once your lists are complete, you’ll start to see the patterns in your work and your space. Think about grouping things according to activity, and planning storage places based on frequency of use and ease of access.

If you do your analysis and aren’t sure where to go next, drop by our facebook page or comment below and we’ll see how we can kick start things with you! Happy planning!

I work on my office floor a lot too!