Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Open Forum: The Home Office

Open Forum is a new POC Flavor that especially invites comments from readers.

I live in the parsonage 200 feet away from where I work. Every once in a while there's a slight overlap, but folks are actually very good about respecting boundaries and all that good stuff.

This parsonage is old school. It's one of those houses with a separate door to a room designated The Pastor's Study. So back in the day, the pastor did work from home and there was quite an overlap. Actually, "back in the day" was up until around 1992, when an office was added to the church.

The Pastor's Study is actually quite large. Bookshelves wrap around on three walls, and this because a former pastor couldn't fit all his books in the older Pastor's Study down the hall. They actually added this room because of this other guy's books. Seriously.

I have not used the Study as a study. There is a big metal desk that is basically stuck there, so I went ahead and set my old old old computer on it. Thus far, I've used it to set up my instruments and make lots of noise. It's also been a storage area. Love those shelves.

Recently I've begun to rethink my setup. I do a lot more work at home nowadays, because my computer at my church office is a glorified paperweight. So I lug liturgy books and commentaries back and forth to type bulletins and sermons on a computer that works.

I've actually enjoyed working at home, a lot more than I thought I would. I can't totally explain why, but it might just boil down to some weird mental thing of mine where I welcome a change after doing the same thing for so long.

And that's when I decided to start cleaning the Study.

I cleaned most of it yesterday. The shelves are pretty clear now, and to my sinuses' delight I've kicked up a lot of dust while vacuuming. I rearranged my instruments, I've started to replace posters with actual framed things. I cleaned the desk. I finally set up some of my He-Man figures. I even set up a coffeemaker. Now the room is starting to look like Rev. Hipster Doofus actually does work down there.

The eventual plan is to get a laptop. That way we have two computers in case Mrs. POC and I both need one, and I have more to do during my office hours at the church.

But the big question that I'm now wrestling with in relation to all of this is: do I move the books?

It wouldn't even have to be all of them. It could just be all my commentaries and liturgy stuff. It would be pretty cool to see all my books on those shelves...obviously it won't be like the former pastor's Library of Christian Congress or whatever, but it would certainly make the new workspace more cozy.

And with that comes a bigger question: what's my church office for? I'm beginning to see a shift in my thinking on this. It used to be that I saw the church office as the place where I did everything church-related. Before my office computer died, all my work was done there: studying, visits, everything. That was definitely on purpose. I hated bringing my work home. My work stayed there. The new wrinkle lately, besides needing a functional computer, has been just wanting to be home more and not caring so much about such strict boundaries. Eventually, there will be Miniature POCs running around, and trudging back and forth across the parking lot is not always going to be conducive to what I need to be doing.

My current thought is that my church office will increasingly be a place for visits and appointments, my new study space for studying and writing. I'd hate for the church office to look so bare without the books (ideally I'd like to get rid of some of the furniture and bring in a table and couch...but space is a premium over there as it is).

So all of this is to share what I've basically already talked myself into doing. But I've been combing the blogosphere looking for other pastors' stories about the pros and cons of keeping a home office. There's very little out there. I'm sure that people in other professions would have plenty to contribute here as well. If you have a home office, how do you handle it? Do you set limits on your time spent there? If you have both, what do you do in each?