As tomorrow looms large on our calendar, I am thinking of the past several days and how we have been collapsing, cleaning, fixing, modifying and changing things around so that we can make for a  comfortable place for our four Japanese exchange students.

Wait, four? Well, it turns out that a number of the host families don’t have kids at home any longer, and one of the things that the organizers wanted to do was to place the students with as many families that had kids of the same age as possible. Thus, we agreed to do a swap. We’ll host two girls half the time, and a different pair of girls the second half (note, this is just for one week).

The decision we made to make things as natural and as disruption free as possible was that, for the next week, the upstairs portion of our house is its own apartment, and we don’t live there any more. I’ve been looking at what this would mean for me, as one of those rooms (outside of the half bath where I get ready most mornings) is my office. Some of the items that I keep there (i.e. my guitars and my bass) are not being relocated, as the “music room” focus of my office is exactly what I want it to be. However, what has proven to be interesting is to see what aspects of my “office” I actually need on a daily basis.

In this age of laptops, wireless networking, smart phones and tablets, I’ve come to see that about 95% of my interactions with my every day work as a tester, a writer, or even a podcast producer don’t require a dedicated space (I do require a space if I want to make for a flat, relatively noiseless recording, and then busting out my Blue Snowball microphone is a necessity). Stereo system? iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Cloud player, plus a pair of good headphones, makes that work. TV and Movies? Netflix and Sidereel resolve most of those challenges. Books? Most of my current tech library, i.e. the things that I actually reference, are in electronic format in Dropbox (when I want to access them on my laptop) or on my Kindle Fire. Different environments? VMWare Fusion and VirtualBox cover that. That leaves a notebook and a pen, and those are things I can carry with me. There are, of course, miscellaneous papers that always come my way, but many of them can be handled with an electronic follow-up or captured in other ways so I don’t have to carry or store them.

So is there anything from my office that I’m leaving behind that would be a hardship? Turns out, yes, there is one thing. Multi monitor support. Having one or two additional monitors is indeed a wonderful luxury that, short of physically carrying around a second monitor, I will have to do without. Luxury yes, but not essential. I can, when push comes to shove, do just fine with one laptop screen.

So as of today, the upstairs is “vacant” and waiting for our “new tenants”.  I’m really curious to see, after this week, if these changes are a temporary blip, or ones I would like to make more permanent.