If you’ve read my post about how I bring fuzzy socks to work, you already know that I strive to be as comfortable as possible in the office. I’m at work for 8+ hours a day, why spend them being uncomfortable? Seriously, every pair of work pants that I own are dressy elastic pants. If I can’t sit cross-legged in them, I’m not interested. And every top is a different iteration of the same soft tank top which I layer with a black cardigan. I’m not aiming to wear anything too fancy, just simple and comfortable. Beyond wearing clothes that are primarily cotton and elastic, I am further maximizing my at-work comfort by essentially turning my desk into my third home (my second home being my car, because I can’t keep a water bottle graveyard at my desk). Trust me, every little bit of space that I have control over becomes a graveyard of some sort…
I have always been a rather messy person. If the internet is to be believed, this may mean that I’m more creative and not just a lazy slob. My room has piles of clothes everywhere, various collectibles, way too many stuffed animals, and infinitely more stuff. If you carry a purse, you may be familiar with what I have just decided to call the Maximum Capacity Effect. This is where you fill up the space that you have, no matter how much space it is. When you carry around a small purse, you only have the bare essentials, whatever that means for you. Let’s say that you realize that you need more space and you get a slightly bigger purse. Okay, cool. Slightly bigger purse, slightly more stuff. You go from wallet and cell phone to wallet, cell phone, and makeup bag.
Sounds perfect, right? And it is, unless instead you go to using a much bigger bag? Suddenly you need everything possible on you at all times. Wallet, cell phone, makeup bag, water bottle, toothbrush and floss, book, snacks, hair dye, power tools, anything and everything, because you just never know!. It’s like packing for vacation. While you realistically only use the same 3 things every single day, you still pack for every crazy possibility.
The Maximum Capacity Effect applies to how much space I have for my stuff everywhere. My room is full, my purse is full, my car is full, so wherever am I to put my stuff? A desk is a great alternative for a place to keep small items that I want to see every day: a ceramic turtle from Mexico, a small stuffed animal, a Sailor Jupiter Funko Pop. Some awesome trinkets that I like to see but don’t like taking up space in my room. Sure sounds like creative genius to me.
And just like carrying a purse, I need to make sure I’m ready for every possibility when it comes to keeping stuff at my desk. Let’s be honest, you never know what you’re going to need throughout the day, especially when you’re at an office without a Target nearby. Unless you have every possible thing at your desk, you’re going to be out of luck when you actually need something. What if I feel like eating a snack between meals? Then again, a snack could be many different things. Do I want something sweet? Salty? Savory? What if I get the chance to sneak away to the gym in the middle of the day? I can’t wear my work clothes to the gym! And I’ll need flip-flops to use in the shower! What if I cut myself or start bleeding from biting my nails? I can’t use the company first aid kit for all of my self-inflicted wounds!
I need to have options. This means that every day, both coming into the office and leaving, I have bags on bags on bags. My backpack, my lunch bag, and my purse come to work and go home with me every day, but those are just the basics. Some days I bring in more snacks to refill my desk. Some days I need to bring in a gym bag full of new clothes to replace dirty ones.
In order to avoid carting my entire house back and forth from the office every day, there are some things that consistently live at my desk/work. My fuzzy socks, phone charger, and headphones live in my top drawer where I can access them easily. I keep oat milk in the fridge to make iced lattes. I have hummus and carrots in the fridge and pita chips in my desk for a quick lunch when I don’t have anything else. I keep boxes of peppermint-licorice tea in my desk so that I can feed my tea addiction. I have bandaids, napkins, plates, Benadryl, Gas X, cinnamon, oatmeal, you name it, I have it.
At this point, I’ve become the bag lady. I have mastered the humble, apologetic look that I give people as I get into the elevator that says, “sorry, I know that I’m a tiny person who’s about to take up the space of 3 people, but would you like a leftover snack in exchange for your personal space?” I’m still working on the maneuvering techniques involved in sliding into a crowded elevator and through tight doorways with so many bags, but practice makes perfect. Plus, what’s the alternative? Not to have all of my stuff with me? Get caught without my dry shampoo or my soup mug!? Fat chance!
One day last week, on my way out of my work building, I had all of my bags with me. I had my normal backpack and lunch bag, as well as my gym bag and my yoga mat. I apologized to my coworker for taking up so much space with all of my stuff. She replied, “Renata, you wouldn’t be you without all of your bags and stuff.”
Oh, friendly coworker, you know me too well.
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/