The past few months has been a flurry of activity in my basement. As COVID-19 came into our lives, and worksites became less accessible, I realized I had no other option as an entrepreneur and Associate Pastor than to create a home office. Luckily for us, we had the space. Unluckily for us, it was unfinished:
I struggle with ADHD, and it really affects my productivity – especially when my space is a mess. Although, I’d bet that’s the case for people without ADHD… and I know pastor’s desks and spaces are some of the worst in terms of clutter and paperwork. Let’s be real… most churches haven’t quite moved to paperless systems, so it’s even worse.
But the more frustrated I got, and the more I commuted back and forth to an empty office with a computer that didn’t have a camera (no Zoom meetings, and cameras were hard to come by as COVID began), the more I realized I needed to buckle down and create that office space.
And by “I needed to buckle down,” I really mean I had to have my husband’s help to get things constructed and moving. He knew how miserable I was and how things weren’t working, so he was more than happy to give me my own space (and give him back some of his space upstairs that was covered in my own work).
Why do we think that offices are so untidy? And how can we think that lack of organization can possibly help us get anything done? When you’re working on a long-term project such as a fundraiser, all that mess will slow you down. You can tell me all you want that “I know where everything is,” or “the new stuff is on top,” but you aren’t fooling me. You are not making your life any easier by avoiding the time it takes to organize (and claim) your space.
I don’t care if it’s an office at the church or an office in your home, you need a peaceful, quiet space to keep your thoughts in order. To write down your lists, to write your sermons or speeches, or to connect with people in a one-on-one capacity. You will be able to get more done, will feel more at peace, and will be able to more easily walk away from the office without a feeling of “I still have so much to do!”
I think clergy and church leaders hide behind “I don’t have enough time” instead of realizing that they’re actively choosing not to take care of themselves. In the beginning of COVID, I realized that’s what I was doing. By not claiming my space, I was actively choosing not to take care of myself. You know how it is – the kids need their space, your partner needs their space, so it’s better to keep them happy than to spend time on your own space. We’re born to be “helpers,” and even “people pleasers,” and that can get in the way of our own space and creative process.
Now that my office is finished, eight weeks later:
I’m really excited to write, find myself more energized to get things done, and find that I spend more quality (read: non-anxious) time with my family. They understand that Mommy’s working space is in the basement, and that most of the time when she’s down there it’s “do not disturb” time. It’s refreshing and exhilarating, and I really hope you can find that same kind of energy within that space.
I even did something terrifying… I applied to the Doctor of Ministry program at Drew University. I’m just feeling it, friends. This office has unlocked something beautiful within my soul.
If you need more convincing that you need a room of your own that is inspiring, consider reading a “vintage” Virginia Woolf book called A Room of One’s Own. It’s original feminism at its finest, a story of a woman struggling to claim her voice and her space in a male-dominated world. If you’re into reading non-theological books (and I know there are some of you out there) it’s a pretty quick read that will draw you into your own heart and remind you of how important space can be.
Also – this is a fundraising blog, after all – you do not have to spend a ton of money to create your own space. Doing it yourself can bring you even more confidence and inspiration than hiring a contractor (and you don’t have to completely rebuild your space to get there). A coat of paint, or some cheap bead-board (that’s my material of choice in this office) or maybe some affirmational vinyl decals are all you need to get your new space started.
Okay, so maybe you also need a filing cabinet that you actually use… but I digress. Do the best you can to keep your space clean, and you’ll definitely reap dividends as you strive to increase capacity in your life, in your initiatives, in your fundraisers. It’s all connected.
How have you been able to claim your own space, and how has it affected your creativity? How has it affected your feelings of accomplishment, or your feelings of anxiety? I’d love to hear how you are finding small ways to claim your space and how you are feeling through the process.
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