Saturday, 2 November 2013

Why I have two office work areas

Every writer has a place to call their own, where they get away to focus on writing without distraction.  Many of us have two or three work places.  And with continued improvements in technology, it is possible to create some pretty special places.

I have a primary work area.  It is a bedroom converted to an office shared by my wife and myself.  It is typical of many writers and other professionals.  I have a desk and office chair, with several book cases nearby.  My desk holds a Windows laptop, 23" monitor and speaker system.  The phone, scanner and printer and NAS are located nearby, but I am connected to them via wifi.  The rest of my desk can be used to write notes, set up my Mac when I need to do something with it, or be a spot to accumulate receipts, brochures and other things until I put them away.  My primary book and blog writing occurs here.

Primary work area

I also have a secondary, portable work area.  It is a comfortable IKEA chair and footstool, with a lap desk, and side table.  I work on my iPad with keyboard and my Mac, and also use it for reading physical books.  These items are easy to move inside and outside as the weather permits.  I attached a small box to my lap desk to hold things such as a pen, yellow marker, Post-it stickies, earphones, small notepad, iPad stylus and glass cleaner.

Portable chair and lap desk on balcony

This is a very relaxed position.  I am more prone, leaning backwards, but perfectly situated for comfortably using the iPad, Mac and reading.  By moving between the two locations, I can work for extended periods of time without cramping.   Changing positions helps to relieve pressure on one set of muscles and joints.  By switching between the two locations, I recover and rest one set of muscles while continuing to use the other.

Yesterday I put in 14 - 15 hours at my main desk, sitting straight up and continuously typing.  The only time away from my desk was to go shopping, carrying heavy things and then putting them away.  Today, I have spent 8 hours at my desk editing.  I took a break to make breakfast, and then another one do some heavy lifting errands and prepare dinner.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen slicing and dicing food in a similar position to sitting at my desk, putting additional stress on my back.

I now want to work again and write a couple blogs, but was not physically willing to sit at my desk.  This is where my secondary work area comes in.  From my portable chair and lap desk, I usually read, mind map, do social media, research, and read physical books.  I use my primary work area for writing, using Adobe applications, taking training (with exercise files which reside and are used by apps on my laptop), social media and coding.  Initially my primary work area was for writing and data input, while my secondary work area was for reading and research.  But I am currently physically challenged to use my primary work area, yet want to blog.  So I have decided to write my first blog from my iPad and you are reading it now!

With the iPad keyboard, I can type significantly more quickly than when using its touch keyboard. Also via wifi and using cloud-based applications, I am less dependent on my laptop (and main desk) for access to critical apps and data..  I am doing far more writing, editing, note-taking and other things on my iPad and portable lap desk.  I also do substantially more social media from my lap desk. After a few hours at my portable work area, I can go back to my desk and work with the Adobe apps again.

Over the last few months, I have been optimizing my writing workflows, and have significantly increased my productivity.  I have also moved more and more to cloud-based systems which can be suitably utilized across many different platforms.

I started this on my iPad, but have now had to move back to my laptop to finish it off.  I encountered an error with positioning the cursor at the bottom of my blog.  Every time I try that on my iPad, I am positioned at the beginning of my blog post.  Using Blogger on my iPad will not let me get to the bottom of a longer post.  This is unfortunate as I was hoping to have a real success here.  I use Evernote, Dropbox, Acrobat, Safari and Firefox across platforms relatively seamlessly, but there are still some differences and problems.  However, they are reducing as all browsers, operating systems and most apps evolve.  This is the first time I have used Blogger on the iPad for writing a post, so not sure if it is an issue with Blogger, IOS or Safari.  (I am still on IOS 6 and the iPad 2.)

I am certain that I will be able to do more and more across any platform.  But for now, I have favorite things to do based on if I am at my desk using my laptop or at my portable lap desk using my iPad.  My desk is really now defined as what is inside my laptop and iPad, not by what is on my physical desk.

My next few blogs will continue to expand on how I work, what technology I use and how my productivity continues to soar.  Just being able to have a secondary work place I can retreat to allows my to keep working while relaxing one set of muscles and joints!  And the 30 minutes I spent there has recharged me for working at my primary work area again.

Steve Shipley
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Twitter: @shipleyaust
My wine blog SAZ in the Cellar
Still Stupid at Sixty (published under my writing pseudonym Blake Stevens)
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