The home page for one of my browsers, the one I use most often, is this blog. I did not do this out of egoism, but rather as a reminder for me to write, write, write. Whereas this reminder was pleasant in the past, it has now become a plainly annoying nag. Why do I do this to myself?
But the truth is that I do miss writing, so I came here today equipped only with my virtual pen and this blank page, with no particular idea, inclination or direction… let’s see where we end up.
I’m in a coffee shop with free wifi, decent music, and a strict non-smoking policy, there are a handful of these around town that have become my makeshift workspaces when I get too restless (and undisciplined) to work from home. I actually do have a cool set-up at home – I custom-designed my desk, have a couple of my favourite Klimts hanging right above to keep me calm and inspired, have broken in my office chair just so, and am at the perfect angle and distance from the air conditioner to remain perfectly cool/warm, depending on the weather. My coffee-shop workspaces have none of these traits, but they all share one feature that is sometimes central to getting any work done: they force me to stay seated. At these coffee shops, there are no TVs and shows that come up and “who knows when they’ll be screened again” (who am I kidding, I know they’ll be back on in 4 hours). There also aren’t any dishes in the sink, or laundry in the hamper that I can suddenly decide to feign a heightened hygiene conscience and feel propelled to clean right this instant. There aren’t any rooms to tidy up, even though they have been comfortably neglected for weeks, or any phone calls to make, or plants to water, and so on, and so on.
No, these coffee shops are the closest type of workspace to my offices. And the procrastination they offer is also quite similar – websurfing, emails, and – wait for it – blogging!
As a matter of fact, there are so many similarities to my previous routine of working in an office that I have begun to doubt my level of productivity during all those years of employment. I mean, was it truly an achievement to respond to around 50 emails a day, playing a virtual ping-pong game of ideas, that take much longer to see tangible fruition sans ping-pong? Did I really need to spend late afternoons writing comprehensive reports that would later be butchered into one-page briefs general enough to be relevant to just about any other project? I’m not sure… I often feel that, at the end of the day, I get things done within roughly the same period of time, but there is much more ‘camouflaged wasted time’ in an office than there is when I call it a day and decide to, say, cook or go for a walk.
What I don’t often get to do, sadly, is just write… The biggest downside of not being in an office and full-time employment is that you never have those lulls where your mind just gets to wander aimlessly and not immediately get roped back in by to-do lists and deadlines. When in an office, there are always some episodes that are just so mind-numbingly infuriating or boring (think back to just about any meeting that has gone too long) that they set my mind free to daydream, and that’s usually when the first lines of a blog entry come to mind. I’ll have to work on creating some daydream episodes, preferably without the infuriation!