Create an Office Oasis

February 6, 2020

Jody Pear — administrative assistant by day, interior designer by nights and weekends — shares how to office organize in a way that brings meaning, clarity and joy into your space.

Jody Pear is a middle-aged white woman with brown shoulder-length hair wearing a black and white hashed top with a blue cardigan. She is smiling, facing away from the camera and is sitting in front of a desk with a vision board collage.

This article was published on February 6, 2020.

Jody Pear believes in vision boards. But before you dismiss the idea as new age nonsense, know that the Office of Business Affairs executive secretary just reached what was on hers.

She retired February 3 after 30 years at UM-Dearborn to focus on her interior design start-up Jody Pear Designs — a goal she’s had for five-plus years. She is also on her third book, Creating Your Soul Oasis, where she discusses decorating with intention in a way that is motivational and inspiring.

Although you may not have noticed it, Jody openly shared this dream on her desk. 

A collection of affirming items sat in the corner of her desk space for quite some time: There's a short vase with flowers, a personalized card and a decorative mirror behind it. There was also a “You Make a Difference Award” but with an alteration — she taped a word equation to the back of it, “House + love = home.” She says that addition gave her award a new purpose: To serve as a symbol of one of her goals, which is to teach others the importance of creating a loving home because that's where she wants to make a difference.


With Jody working in several campus offices — financial aid, student affairs, facilities, and business affairs — over the past three decades, you probably recognize her face. But you might not know that she has a design degree, she’s certified in color, and she traveled to Denmark to learn about house-coaching — which brings empathy into interior design, creating spaces that are meaningful and nurturing.

Here are a few tips Jody gives to infuse meaning into your space (at work or home):


“Less is less. If the items you display in your space do not have a function and provide you with joy, consider passing it along to someone who will use or appreciate it. Notice the empty spaces that the decluttering process provides...consider it a symbol that you are creating space for new opportunities to arise in your life.”

Group meaningful items together. 

“Create a collage to make an impact and tell a story. When items get spread out they can look like clutter and the meaning can get lost. It can be photos, awards, poems, items that evoke a feeling — anything that has meaning to you. Decorating with intention has the power to remind you of happy memories and point you in the direction of your dreams. The best part is that it’s a secret. Only you know the meaning of the objects you choose to display.”

Consider decorative items as a three-dimensional vision board. 

“By grouping together items in a way that tells a story, you can surround yourself with positive motivational cues that feed your subconscious mind. We all have things we want to accomplish and without visual reminders, we forget and before we know it, three years may pass before we remember. So put your dreams out there into your physical space to remind yourself that you are working toward them. When I see my reflection in the mirror combined with the items that represent my dream, I remind myself that I’m taking steps in the right direction every day.”

You can keep the meaning to yourself until you feel the time is right to share.

“Vision boards are a little old school and you might not want to put personal or professional goals out there for all to see. But it's important to acknowledge them and continuously remind ourselves of them in the spaces we live in — homes, offices or cubicles. Someone else wouldn’t know what the items on my desk meant by looking. It just looks pleasant to them but to me, it is this wonderful secret display that is full of hidden messages that I created for myself.” 

It’s ok to do things one step at a time.

“Reorganizing your space can be an opportunity that provides clarity and joy. This shouldn’t be a stressful process and it is a continual one. Your space should change as your feelings change and it’s ok to take your time. If you see an image on Pinterest that catches your attention, print it out and display it somewhere you will see it frequently. You don’t have to know why it made your heart skip a beat when you saw it, just notice the emotion you had and put it in your space. Maybe a week passes and something new catches your eye. Do it again. It’s an addictive and exciting’s like creating a breadcrumb trail to your dreams.

Ask yourself what you truly want. Then declutter. Prioritize what’s important to you. And surround yourself with reminders of your goals, your dreams, and your idea of joy. If you feel growth and fulfillment, you will feel good about what you are doing.”

Reporter is interested in sharing stories about campus colleagues through an item in their office. If you have an interesting item in your office — or know someone who does — we’d like to know about it.