"The reality of life today means that you can’t always be there, and in fact you have to take that idea of that working space with you. Probably what’s going to happen in the future is that the desk becomes more a state of mind than an actual physical place." – Alice Twemlow, design critic.
My Desk, to use the capitalization and idea presented in this video, is the laptop I’m blogging this from. It’s a Toshiba Equium A100-299 to be precise, which I bought after some deliberation in the winter of 2007. It is the only computer I have chosen and bought myself (after growing up working on my dad’s cast-offs and technical experiments), and I’m reluctant to upgrade or replace it because it is just right. The keyboard never makes my wrists tired. The Firefox browser is full of extras like Readability, Feedly and TreeStyle. My blog platform, Windows Live Writer (the only good part of Windows Live IMO), includes locally stored blog post drafts and an archive of potential illustrations. TweetDeck looks better on this screen than the bigger one at work or the smaller one in my purse. I use the photographs I’m kind of proud of as desktop backgrounds. I’ve really settled down with this computer.
I love the idea of working from anywhere, and my netbook, Evernote and Gmail make that possible. Changing the scenery (moving from my apartment to a café or from one side of the university library to the other) usually helps me beat writer’s block or three-quarter curse.
However, the actual look of the physical workspace has never mattered to me that much. At work, the only real personalization of my desk is coincidental and functional: my big green Boston Globe mug, my Kindle, my notebook of daily to-do lists, all scattered around at random. The computer however, has to feel right, and the process of logging on to everything in the "right" order and arranging the programs I work with in their "right" places on my screens has become a routine I won’t mess with.
A friend who trained to be a chef in France taught me the importance of mise en place, literally "putting in place" your ingredients and tools before getting to work. The phrase comes from French kitchens, but setting up your workspace matters, whether you’re chopping onions, sharpening pencils or upgrading Firefox add-ons.
Related post: Multi-tasking and concentration