The R&D Workshop No.11

The Office Introductory Post

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, office, office love, office furniture, business, life, getting things done, hobbies, passion, business, entrepreneur
I’ve talked about writing this post for what feels like months. It has likely only been about two months at the most. I am not writing this post as an explanation to justify my choice to rent an office—which is really just a room in an office building—or to portray myself in a way that doesn't reflect reality, or in order to gain favor with whatever your feelings are towards me. I write this post to share my thoughts about going into such an endeavor and to hint at what that general endeavor is. I write this, in part, because that is what this feature to my blog is about, and I’m excited about this change within my life. I’m hoping it’s a big step in the direction I want to go.

When it comes down to it, I am renting an office to have a place outside of my house to work in peace and quiet. I tried the library once, and it wasn’t as quiet or peaceful as I thought it would be. I don’t have any interest in hanging out at a coffee shop, as I don’t think that would provide me the environment that I would choose to work in. What these places also don’t provide is 24/7 access to a working space. The library we go to, the closest one to our house, isn’t actually open for very much of the day, and it’s also closed all day fairly often for a variety of reasons. Coffee shops and the like have a better window of hours than the library, but they require purchasing items to consume, and they are not places I can go to ANYTIME I WANT. And, taking into account the breadth of activities that I’m currently engaged in and those that I'm considering within this new office, a library and a coffee shop would not be conducive. An office also provides a certain level of privacy.

So, why not at home? Why did it stop working all of a sudden? Not everyone can have an office and need to make their home work, right? What about your poor wife? Well, it wasn’t all of a sudden. I understand that I’m “lucky” to be able to have an office, because, you know, working hard and making good decisions is “luck.” My wife supports the hell out of me as much as she can. She, of all people, knows my vision for the future in its greatest glory. She is actually embarking upon her own entrepreneurial journey in different ways than I, and I am doing my best to support the hell out of her.

Ironically, now that I have an office to go to, my wife has been able to be more productive at home with our office setup there. I had no idea, but she had always given me precedence to use the desk. I was and still am not a fan of how she keeps a desk, but it’s less of an issue now since she’s essentially the sole user of it. I know that it has made her happier to have that space to work in; I could sense it immediately. If I do use it, I generally only need enough space to put my Chromebook. Or, I could use my Chromebook on the kitchen table or in the living room on a TV tray. Our new situation has worked in ways that I didn’t foresee and for the better. One side effect that I’m especially happy about is less clutter on the kitchen counters. I know, right? How does that work? However, it’s because some of that now ends up (more appropriately) on the desk. C’est la vie! But, I’m straying...

One of the issues that I was trying to get away from is what I like to call the “Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts.” The basic idea is that one paper cut, aka distraction, is not a big deal. You pick back up where you left off. Then, the next one comes. Still not a big deal—move on. But, then, they keep coming, and they don’t stop. Your brain gets twisted and fried and you realize that you’ve not accomplished what you should have with the time you’ve spent working. Everyone has gone through that, and it is to be expected now and then, especially when you’re a part of a family unit. I was dying the “Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts,” and that’s no way to live. It’s not good for me or my family.

So far, I have worked more efficiently out of my office, thus allowing me to get more done. It also gives me more opportunities to spend time with my family, time that’s not distracted by the “other things” I need and want to do. I get to experience QUALITY of time in each facet of my life because I’ve compartmentalized them in a way that I can be present with what I intend to accomplish within that scheduled time frame. It allows me to be more realistic with what I can actually accomplish and helps me set my priorities. I will never be just one thing, but I can only be at my best when I’m one thing at a time. I’m only about a month in, and I can already see the benefits flowering and also where there are opportunities for improvements. Working smart and not hard is one common phrase that comes to my mind as it does apply to this situation, albeit slightly stretched. I will still work hard; To be me, I must.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, office, office love, office furniture, business, life, getting things done, hobbies, passion, business, entrepreneur
I haven’t yet been able to spend as much time at the office as I would like, but it’s still just one of the places I frequent. My setup is still sparse and there’s nothing on the cold, white walls just yet. I have everything I need as of this point, and it’s only a matter of time before I start injecting my personality into the room, making it more warm and inviting. I didn’t want to go too big, too fast. Plus, it costs money. I also needed to make sure that I wanted to stay in the room for longer than a month or two. I see no reason to leave yet, so I’ve been thinking more about what I’d like to do. For now, I have the Ikea L-shaped sitting desk we had at home and could easily spare. I also brought two office chairs that weren’t getting used much anymore since our purchase of a standing desk to use at home last year. Beyond that, I have the simple knick-knacks and necessities that make an office a usable space. I have a closet with shelves in the office, so most of the small stuff is there.

Who can function without the internet these days? Sure, we all CAN, but do we? It seemed to me a waste of money to pay the monthly rate our “local” broadband internet provider would charge. Call me crazy, but I didn’t even look into it. What I did do is go to my local Boost store and set up my plan to allow me to use my phone as a hotspot. I only increased my phone bill from $30 to $50 a month to get 12 gigs of hotspot data. So far, so good. I KNOW I wouldn’t be able to get cable internet piped into my office for $20 a month. Can I download and watch movies all month? No, it has and will require sensible internet usage decisions for the office along the way. I didn’t get an office to watch YouTube. I have a home with wifi for that.

The internet data ceiling that I have will certainly curb prior practices. The benefits outweigh the costs, though. Besides, it can be exciting to take these opportunities to change things up and do them differently than in the past. Getting into ruts is not good either. While I do enjoy listening to music while doing other things such as writing, it can also be a distraction. The main reason I started listening to music with headphones at home was to drown out the noise of home-life. The office isn’t devoid of all noise, but there’s a huge difference. If I do decide to introduce music back into my writing or other appropriate working situations, I still have options that don’t involve streaming Pandora. I can actually have music ON my computer. I can load up my underused iPod. Or, I can bring in CDs and my nearly twenty-year-old boombox. There is always a way around, and that way can be fun and refreshing.

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If you’ve made it this far into the post, then you’re probably one of those people who have been the most interested in what my blog has always been about: My thoughts, my life, and my interests. You will likely also be one of those people who care about me most and will understand me well enough to know that I can be pretty ambitious, sometimes ridiculously so. I will not apologize for that, and I will not live any other way. However, I have learned to not reveal all of the secrets before their time is due.

What this office provides me, in addition to what I’ve already written, is a bit of legitimacy. Yes, a legitimacy to others but mostly and more importantly to myself. I am taking that leap. I am taking myself and my ambitions more seriously and at a REAL cost. It gives me less opportunity to make excuses and puts me in more of a position to perform. It puts me in the mind frame that I want to be in. It's living the life I want to live now—not "some day." Do it or don’t, Graham. To me, it’s a logical “next step” if I’m going to be serious about my ridiculously ambitious plans. Will I accomplish them all? I don’t know. Making plans to climb a mountain will at least get a person to its base. Before getting to the base, that person would have to buy the gear to climb, and so on. Every process, every triumph, every plan, every goal has steps along the way to its completion. No one can tell the future, and maybe 1/16th of my hopes and dreams will be enough for me in the end. I'll never know without taking thoughtful action.

I am not going to write much about the possibilities the future may hold. What I will tell you is what I HAVE been doing in the office and also try to presciently answer some of your questions in regards to the repertoire of activities that I've pursued in the past. Beyond what I reveal in this post, I may start using Official Secret Code Names to speak of the unspeakable. I don’t want to say too much, but I also want to be able to blog about what I’m doing and thinking. It’s a touchy place to be.

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, office, office love, office furniture, business, life, getting things done, hobbies, passion, business, entrepreneur
As I’ve stated in the past, I’m big into micromanaging my finances. Coming second to my family, I believe personal finance is the most important area of a person's life. It sets the stage for happiness and life fulfillment in a way many other things can't. I would say it’s a strength of mine, though, there are certainly people out there who have done better and are more knowledgeable than I. Managing one’s finances is not conducive to coffee shops and libraries. When given the choice, I would not choose to do this at home either. Having the office has made this facet of my life run much more smoothly. I cannot convey enough how much my quality of life has improved by performing this one, broad activity at the office.

Writing is probably the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think about why I would get an office. It certainly IS one of the reasons, though, not by a much larger percentage than all of the other competing reasons. I do enjoy removing words from my brain to share with you all, and I certainly want to continue using Graham Sedam Writes and as the vehicles to do so. I believe in blogs and newsletters being whatever the writer chooses them to be, and I will continue down the path of shaping my blogs and their posts as I go.

I also have a storyteller inside of me. I can still remember parts to some of the stories that I wrote as a child. It’s a piece of me that has always been there, which evolved into lyric writing in my teen years, and then into blogging as I do now. If you asked my kids, they would tell you how much they like the stories that I've made up for them at bedtime. If you asked my wife, she would tell you how sore her eyes are from rolling them, because of the umpteenth tall tale I've told my kids about my past. I would like to revisit the ideas I have collected for fictional stories at some point in my life and make some type of progress towards their completion. It may take me thirty years to do so, but it will be about the enjoyment of the journey and the act of accomplishing the work. This type of writing is not even close to being a focus of mine right now but is something that I would like to be able to dabble in occasionally as the time and inspiration allows. I find being in the office to be interesting in the sense that inspiration could be taken from the diverse cast of people in the office building and the minor situations that have occurred since moving in.

Music has been a strange companion to me in my life. I don’t believe that I’ll ever abandon it, but I have also experienced some personal ups and A LOT of personal downs with it. After being involved with music through one form or another for over twenty-five years, it’s hard to have the same level of enthusiasm as I used to. I want my life to be about more than the musical pursuits I have engaged in. I want to pursue other things, ideas, interests as well. If I, at this point in my life, had been experiencing what I would call success with music, then I would likely see it differently. I do want music to continue being a part of my life. Working on music at home hasn't been terribly easy for the last six years. I don’t plan on pursuing music at the office, partly because of the noise clause in the contract, and certainly not in a way that I've become accustomed to in the past. However, I feel strongly that having the office will help me to find clarity on the subject of “doing music” in a way that I might not otherwise be able to.

What does that leave, you may wonder? Quite a bit, actually. Simple things like reading, casual or otherwise, and phone calls are perfect for a place like my office. One of my favorite, possible uses is my office being a place where I can contemplate my past, present, and future. I can do this anywhere, yes, and I do that everywhere. It’s why I spend my commutes in mostly silent thought. What I’m talking about is the more pointed contemplation that isn’t distracted by life or by driving a car. The focus that allows me to figure out what I want, what I need to do to take that next big step in life, or to make it successfully through that day or week. The focus that will allow me to be confident in the decisions that I have made and am making to move forward because I’ve put in the brain-work, the homework, and the work-work.

While all of the activities and reasons that I’ve already mentioned in this post got me into an office, I believe the reasons that I have NOT named are what are going to keep me in the office long term. These are the potential projects and businesses I don’t want to share with you yet. I want those ventures with not-yet-assigned Official Secret Code Names to mean something, and if they die, I don’t want them to die meaninglessly through social media. I don’t want their death to be due to a lack of work or care or focus but because they didn’t represent the best way forward for me and my family. I don’t want to talk them up with bravado and bluster and give others the impression that I’m blowing smoke up their backsides. I’m just a guy who wants to try doing new things, to give them a go and see what happens.

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The R&D Workshop is a recurring feature where I talk candidly about my works of passion and associated things.

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Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing
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