Designing a Workspace

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Let’s kick this blog off with a little mathematical word problem.

Joe is getting a new calling plan for his phone. He has the choice between two plans. The first plan costs $10 per month, but only $0.05 per minute to call. The second service doesn’t have any monthly fees, but costs $0.20 per minute to call. If Joe spends an average of 100 minutes per month on the phone, which plan should he choose?

The logically correct answer is pretty easy to figure out. He should get the first plan because it’ll be around $15 per month. The second plan will end up costing about $20 per month if he talks for 100 minutes per month.

But the psychologically correct answer is much trickier. Joe doesn’t want to cough up the $10 per month. It’s too much commitment. Plus $0.20 per minute is still pretty good right? Also, Joe doesn’t have the self-awareness to accurately track how much time he spends on the phone. The short calls to see what his friend Jason is up to really do add up. Also, he always spends more time talking to his brother on the phone during work than he intends, but he tells his supervisor it was only five minutes for a “family emergency.”

So the real answer to the problem here is that Joe needs to realize what he actually spends his time on, admit that’s its valuable, and plan to spend the $10 up front every month.

I’m a lot like Joe. But I’m trying to change.

When I moved into my second apartment in Venice, I wanted to be frugal with everything. I didn’t want to cough up the $80 to buy a desk from Ikea. So I worked from the couch, in my bed, at the kitchen counter (I didn’t get a dinner table either). I realized after a while that I needed to get a consistent workspace to aid me in my productive. Its made a huge difference! I put sticky notes on my desk to write down ideas, I put a large piece of poster board next to my desk to write on, I put a little lamp on my desk so I could work at night without burning my retinas.

Even small things make a big difference. I realized recently that if I see my phone I’m so much more likely to grab it and be distracted. But if I put it behind my laptop screen or in the small shelf under my desk, I can focus for a long time. Water on my desk determines whether I have a good day or a bad day. If I fill up the water bottle on my desk and bring a glass out, I drink a lot more water so I think and feel way better.

We need to pay attention to the things we do every day. Because even if we don’t recognize it, our lives are a merely a collection of what we we do every day. 

Joshua Reese