Get obsessed and stay obsessed

There’s been a lot of discussion recently over new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting, both from telecommuters who feel outraged and/or defensive of their own work ethics and from defenders of the traditional workplace who find her ultimatum gratifying. Frankly, even as a telecommuter, I can understand both sides (I think The Atlantic‘s Anne-Marie Slaughter nails it pretty well). Any workplace policy can be abused by someone—from the shipping clerk to the CEO—and if Yahoo!’s company culture has devolved into one that rewards non-productivity, Mayer’s gotta try something. And though I’m inclined to see unproductive telecommuters as, first and foremost, a management problem (and perhaps secondly as a technology problem), as an outsider, I can’t possibly know enough about her company or its workforce to guess whether this policy shift might be effective.

Of course, reading the comment section of Slaughter’s post is unsurprisingly pretty frustrating. There’s a strong inclination on the part of onlookers to paint either all CEOs or all telecommuters with the same (negative) brush. I did find one comment pretty interesting, though, from a user named David Graf. “Telecommuters are usually one of two types: Those who have a hard time starting and those who have a hard time stopping.” Like most either/or statements, I suspect this is ultimately untrue (or at least grossly oversimplified), but (again, like most either/or statements) I admit I can recognize myself a bit in one of Graf’s “types.” I really don’t like stopping. [Read more…]

Becoming Your Workspace

A number of years ago—back in my Big Apple days—a close friend of mine went through a major feng shui phase. He talked a lot at the time about space, balance, and a number of other spiritual and aesthetic points I remember very little of now. But there was one thing he said then that has stuck with me all these years, and that is that the state of our personal environment reflects the state of our minds. Though at the time he was mainly referring to orderliness (Have a spotless living room alongside a secret closet full of junk? He’s got your number!), I’ve always felt that this extends to matters of personal taste as well, like warmth, sparseness, or even just our choice of possessions to display or keep handy.

OF course, I find that the state of my surroundings can deeply influence my state of mind as well—especially when those surroundings are my workspace. If I’m feeling confused or overwhelmed, cleaning out my desk can work wonders. Similarly, a bit of reorganization (or even better, full-out rearrangement) can work me out of a mental rut.

I’ve been freelancing from my home office for quite some time, and now that my primary job is largely taking place at home as well, the state of my personal workspace has become more important than ever. And thus now (more than ever), I work to maintain the state of mind that my workspace reflects. [Read more…]