Shawn Blanc has been writing recently about working outside his home office. He has discussed the benefits of changing his work scenery, the benefits of working around other people and the benefits of a dedicated co-working space. There is lots of discussion regarding the difficulties of working from home and the benefits of utilizing dedicated office space. I am hardly an expert on the topic. Regardless, I’ve been heartily intrigued with Shawn’s experiment and I’ve tried to apply facets of his ideas in my own work life.

My small community doesn’t have a co-working space and I don’t see many people setting up to complete their daily work in our local coffee shops. It’s just not a normal thing to do here.

So I decided to change things up in my own home to experience some of Shawn’s co-working benefits.

My wife and I have a few bookshelves and a small writing desk in our living room. Our living room has a couch which splits the room in half and our TV is on the opposite side away from the writing desk. For the first few months with the writing desk, I found I gravitated to the smaller desk with my laptop instead of working at my desk in our “office”, a second bedroom which we have converted into a working space.

Looking back, I don’t know why I constantly gravitated to the living room. Maybe because it allowed me to listen to the hockey game while doing work. Or maybe because of the fascination with the new shelves in the house.

In any case, my productivity dropped dramatically. I had a harder time writing articles for The Newsprint. I got behind on my homework. The little portions of work I did get finished were of inferior quality. And my Twitter use skyrocketed. I don’t know why it took me so long to notice the trend.

Two weeks ago, I cleaned off my desk in our office and I set up my mStand, keyboard and mouse for a desktop experience. I cleaned up all the scattered papers in my living room and organized my textbooks. And I migrated back to the office.

It’s been a dream so far.

Moving to the office has allowed me to shut out the distraction of the television in the background. I now play music through my desktop speakers. My posture has improved due to the use of the mStand. And I don’t annoy my wife as much. Win-win.

I think it’s more than just an elimination of distractions though. I think it’s a different mindset that allows for higher productivity. Like putting on a suit for work in the morning, creating an atmosphere for work is essential to getting work done.

When I walk through the office door in our apartment, I can feel a different psychology take ahold of my goals. I look at my desk and don’t see an environment for dinking around on Twitter or endless dreaming on eBay. Instead, I look at my desk and see scope and definition for the task at hand.

As a result, my living room has become a room for entertainment and for iPad use. My office, in contrast, is iPad-free and a dedicated work space.[1] I finally feel driven to get work done in my own home.

Looking to the future, this lesson has proved one thing to me: I will need my own home library and a massive desk and a massive desktop computer and a Herman Miller Embody chair and a couch and a coffee table and glass bottles of scotch everywhere.

Just kidding. Now, back to work.


  1. This does not imply I use my iPad only for consumption. In fact, I’m writing this article on my iPad for a change of scenery. However, I can’t deny that Threes has drained an exceptional amount of my iPad’s battery as of late.  ↩