One of the steady stream of little articles that I just got via my work email (you know all the “stuff” you get, especially from volunteers-old age funnies, dog pictures, IQ tests, heartwarming stories, riddles, cartoons, even the occasional inappropriate joke) was an article on desks. What does your desk say about you? Hmmmmmm. Messy? Maybe you’re too disorganized. Inspirational quotes? Maybe you’re a bit neurotic. Personal odd objects? Maybe you’re a kook. Occasional protein bar wrappers? Maybe you’re a slob. Old mismatched furniture? Maybe you don’t care.
Now here’s the best part. Any of the above can keep you from being taken seriously and being promoted.
If you were to look at my desk, right now, here’s what you would see:
Two nice chairs for volunteers to sit down on. My chair is ripped. Clutters of papers everywhere. I’m working on all of them and will get to them sometime today, I hope. A few inspirational sayings in frames. For the volunteers of course. Several open calendars. Each one is color coded for different areas and projects. Post it notes in purple. The purple ones were on sale. A really old phone. I’m used to it and it has several lines, picking capabilities and sometimes the speaker phone works. My desktop. Not bad, really. My business cards on a funky doggie card holder given to me by a volunteer. They are at the corner because I knock them over constantly.
Under my desk is: My laptop (Trying to get a newer version). My camera (it actually is now stuck on playback, mainly because it has been dropped multiple times, so I pretty much use my I phone for pictures). A manual for volunteer orientation (I’m constantly scribbling in it as I want to “update” orientation so that it is fresh). A tote bag with pens, papers, brochures, business cards (for that last-minute invite). A pile of papers that don’t fit on the desk (seriously, desks are not big enough). An old, old Rolodex (do you even know what that is?-ok, it’s sentimental, left over from no data base days).
Now, as you scan all this, you may notice on or about the desk and walls:
a small worry doll from Nicaragua, a gift from a volunteer who thinks I worry too much
a dusty dolphin screen saver, a gift from a volunteer who loves anything sea related
a tiny carved coconut monkey, a gift from a patient who carved-he was one of my favorites
a Gemini key chain, a gift from a volunteer whose wife shared my birthday
a watercolor of a… well, I’m not sure what it is but it was a gift from a volunteer’s daughter who loves to paint
a trio of small glass elephants from a volunteer who thinks I forget too many things
a hand painted rock paper weight from a volunteer-flowers adorn one side, on the flip side is a finger flipping me off-our joke
a mug that says, “I survived volunteering”-inside joke from a volunteer
a beautiful inlaid box from India-gift from a volunteer from India who was incredibly inspirational
a picture of a Cocker Spaniel-a volunteer’s beloved dog that died
a “soul saver” pack-a joke gift from my stand-up comedian volunteer-it’s guaranteed to save my soul she says
a Murano glass paperweight from Italy, a gift from a world traveling volunteer-I live vicariously through him a lot
an engraved shell casing from a, well I’m not sure which rifle -a gift from a veterans group who is now volunteering
a USB aromatherapy plug-in, guaranteed to make you calm-gift from an office volunteer-is she trying to say something?
If you look into my top desk drawer you will find all the items from volunteers who have died or left, some office supplies, my favorite stapler (the kind that looks like pruning shears). Maybe I’m an office hoarder, I don’t know. And maybe that volunteer sent me that article because he was trying to tell me something. And maybe, yes, I’m a bit neurotic (hey, I’ve got lots on my mind), a tad kooky (Ok, so I sometimes just burst into maniacal laughter), and a great deal disorganized (hey, I can find that form for changing a volunteer’s address-just give me a minute).
Well, maybe I’ll not get that promotion or be looked at as someone going places. Maybe my work space looks like I’m not trying. Or maybe, just maybe, it looks like the daily workload of a volunteer manager.
Kristen McHenry said:
I relate! I treasure the gifts my volunteers bring me and have them displayed around my office: A glass pig, a Vietnamese girl and boy in traditional dress matching fridge magnets, a hand-made ceramic candle holder, a hand-painted card, an orange candle, etc, etc. (I’m one of those people who are easily distracted by disorder in my physical space, though, so I’ve found a way to arrange them “artfully”.) Your office sounds like a lovely place to be!
Thanks Kristen, your space sounds wonderful! I love how each piece tells a story about a relationship between you and your volunteers. I’m guessing your office is a gathering place too, for not only volunteers, but harried staff.