To empathize with my last work environment I would ask you to close your eyes. Imagine yourself sitting in a
small apartment at a tiny table in front of a malfunctioning laptop, with deadlines on the horizon. You’re body is dead from the day’s manual labor and tomorrow promises more of the same. Dinner still isn’t made. And to top off all these calming factors, dump in ten children running, screaming, asking questions, and breaking shit. The perfect recipe for getting work done.
Now, was I actually working with young children? No, but some days I was hard pressed to see the difference between my 18-24 year olds and a kindergarten class. The questions ‘What time is lunch?’ and ‘What should I do if I forgot my pants?’ were not uncommon. The most valuable skill I attained last year was the zen-like ability to quiet everything outside and empty a spot in my mind to focus. A good pair of head phones and the occasional eye-twitching glare at passersby helped immensely.
I learned through necessity to accomplish my goals even when stress abounded and everything in my immediate environment served to distract and annoy. Some things just needed to get done.
In stark contrast to that is the situation is the one I have now—oodles of time, peace and quiet, and most importantly no overwhelming deadlines. In theory I should be more productive than ever before.
Instead I have found it almost impossible to accomplish anything. Removed from the obligations of deadlines and dependents, my motivation level is stuck on empty.
I’ve considered this issue of my unproductivity at home for quite some time and discovered some interesting things about myself.
The first is that I have trouble setting my own deadlines. Even when I wake up in the morning and say okay this is what I’m going to get done today and these are the healthy lifestyle choices I’m going to make, there’s about an 86% chance that I’ll ignore that directive and waste my day with a pint of ice cream and a good book.
The second, which I believe ties heavily into the first, is that I cannot work from home. Everything is just a little too easy, too immediate. My chair is too comfy. Snacks, television, and internet are too readily available. And the biggest issue of all, everything is too familiar. There’s nothing around me to challenge, or inspire me, both of which are necessary elements for me to do work. Or at least get inspired enough to search for it.
Now all this might speak more of an inability to decorate on my part, but not having the energy to master the art of feng shui, I’ve found that a big piece of my success lies in just getting out of the house. To leave the comfort and security of home and just explore. It amazes me the difference this little act has made on my mood alone.
My recent explorations have led me to a café called Diesel in Davis Square, and for me it is a perfect mix of eclectic atmosphere and quirky vibes. It’s also a great place to satisfy my people watching urges.
In my hours spent here, I have felt the inspiration of a writing muse that’s been eluding me for quite some time. She, the muse, and I have done some great work recently. There is something about being in that crowded space, about the energy of people around me living and breathing and moving. It reminds me that I’m alive and must continue to move around too.
I never thought I’d miss the hectic over-crowdedness of my last job, but alas here I am seeking it out to find my inspiration. It is increasingly apparent to me that my physical environment has a profound effect on my mental workspace and hopefully this realization puts me one step closer towards figuring it all out.
READ KATHERINE SHAYE OFTEN? CHECK OUT THESE MONEYLESS ENTERPRISES, REFERENCED IN HER LAST POST, Unemployment.edu
Samara – a yoga studio with a work study program similar to the one from the dance complex that I mentioned last week.
Time Trade Circle – a community group trying to connect people with varied skills to trade labor for labor based on hours in a ‘time’ bank.