I’ve been working at the same desk for 12 years now, but a problem has arisen in the last year or two. You see, my desk faces away from my home office door because there is a window on the opposite wall, and window-gazing is a big part of my creative process. Recently, I added a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to my setup, which is great for shutting out the distractions of, for example, children screaming in the distance. (I have three children and they scream a lot.)
There’s only one problem with all this: Anytime somebody enters the room, I have no clue they’re there until they tap me on the shoulder and startle the bejeezus out of me.
I tried asking my family members to sneak up on me more gradually. That was worse: I’d become aware of a presence, and then turn around to find my husband had been looming behind me for god knows how long, waiting for the right opening to say hello. So then I asked them to be louder, knocking and yelling as they entered the room if I’ve got headphones on. This had its own issues, mainly that I still didn’t hear them (these headphones are good). But also, when I did hear them, I was just as startled as in the original situation.
The situation got so desperate I was considering turning my desk around. But then I had my big-brain moment: What if I put a mirror on my desk?
Friends, this has been a game-changer. The mirror points at my door, so anytime somebody approaches, I can see motion in my peripheral vision. If I’m in a meeting, I can even make eye contact with the intruder and motion “not now” without having to spin around in my chair.
My mirror is a cheap shaving mirror, something that probably came from a chemist for less than $5. It has a little stand on the back, like a picture frame. If I didn’t already own it, I probably would have picked out something cute. So do yourself a favour and prop up a mirror on your desk, and take full advantage of the good headphones.