Working Everywhere

A few weeks ago, I decided to finally start the process of searching for my first home. It's an incredibly daunting task and a little demoralizing, but also just so much fun. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like on the inside, and obviously, I took a lot of inspiration from my recent love-affair with Pinterest.

I knew that aside from having an immaculate living area, I wanted an office space. A place where I could sit down and get work done. A desk with drawers and everything neatly filed away and properly stored. But that's when I realized two things - I already have that in my room. I have this beautiful desk, this whole section that's dedicated to nothing but work, but I actually rarely ever spend any time sitting there. For instance, right now, I'm in my bed, drinking tea, and writing this as I have an episode of The West Wing playing in the background (I'm trying to watch in tandem with The West Wing Weekly podcast, but it's so hard not to watch ahead).

The second thing that I realized is that as much as I wanted to be someone who only worked at his work desk and only played elsewhere, I've never been able to do that. As nice as it would be to have one of those heavily curated, Pinterest-looking spaces to get things done, I've always been someone who can get things done anywhere. Well, not anywhere. I've never been able to work in a coffee shop or on a plane - they just never felt right to me - but I can just as easily get work done in my bed, in my kitchen, or on my couch. I've never quite needed a dedicated work space.

I think that's because I've situated myself in such a way that everything I need can be accessed from anywhere. All my my notes and important files are stored in Drive and Keep, I find things to read through Flipboard, sync and listen to my podcasts through Pocket Casts, and have all my passwords stored in LastPass - all of these a mere fingerprint scan away. If you were to give me your phone, I could turn it into mine by downloading a few apps and logging into them. Everything is everywhere, and it's kind of incredible how I've managed to make my life service, and to an extent, device agnostic.

There are some weird hangups though. Emailing on my phone feels as weird as messaging my friends on my computer. Things still feel segmented in certain areas, but that's mostly just a me-thing and how I've done things for so long. What's interesting is the little changes I've noticed. I no longer need to get my laptop to watch Netflix or YouTube just because the screen is larger. I do most of that on my phone now because it's there and it's convenient. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while it is nice to have a dedicated space to just sit down and get stuff done, whether it's work or cleaning out your inbox, it's also nice knowing that you can do that just about anywhere these days.

I think that this is the way the world is going now - everything is going be both yours and not yours. You own the information, but it doesn't matter what device is being used to deliver that information to you. Everything we use is becoming increasingly more powerful and connected, which only blurs the line between them even further. We just need to unlearn the old ways of thinking how these things work. That and to make sure we don't forget our master password.

Finding Balance Online

A month ago, I wrote about how I was slowly working to make my phone, and myself, better. I talked about how I was replacing Twitter and Reddit from my home screen with Flipboard and an eBook reader. When I told my girlfriend about how I didn't want to spend so much time on social media, she recommended that I try Pinterest. I've tried getting into it before, but for whatever reason, it never stuck with me. When she told me that the key is to pick one project, make it into a board, and start saving every idea you even remotely like to it, I started to see it's value. Now, after a solid month of relentless pinning (men's fashion, home offices, and pugs), I can open up Pinterest and it's full of stuff that I'm really into. It's the weirdest mix of DIY home design to fashion tips I hadn't thought of to hilarious images of the wrinkliest pugs. It feels like me.

The other big shift was that I started using Flipboard a lot more too. After the death of Google Reader, I spent the last four years searching for the best way to consume news. I tried Feedly and Google Play Newsstand, but those felt a little too cold and didn't always deliver the news I was interested in. I tried setting up my Twitter feed, but I kept seeing the same posts retweeted three or four times a day. Facebook worked for a while (I unfollowed everyone, and replaced them with the sites and blogs I frequent the most), but then I noticed that because Facebook's algorithm kept refreshing the stories in a non-linear way, I kept missing out on important news events and stories. Flipboard for the most part has fixed that. Creating news boards around topics as opposed to strictly the sites I read the most has opened me up to a wider discourse and breadth of knowledge and reduced the amount of noise surrounding them

I did the same with Reddit and Instagram. I decided to stop following the accounts and subreddits I thought I had to or should be following, and instead followed the ones across all my interests instead. These have become the places where I spend the majority of my time online now, and you know what? It's absolutely wonderful.

The more I step away from the screaming mess that are Twitter an Facebook, the more I feel sane and happier. My friends, colleagues, and chosen strangers no longer dictate what I care about. Apps like Nuzzel are meant to help with this. You connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a few times a day it'll send you a notification about the stories your friends, colleagues, and chosen strangers are talking about. It's meant to give you that sense of control, but I found it to be more of a distraction. Sure, to an extent it'll help keep me in the loop, but I've found myself to be more engaged when I actually want to flip through the latest news stories and events, not because people I know are talking about them.

The last month has been a calming reminder that the world isn't always on fire. The political landscape is scary as hell, and burying my head in home decorating tips isn't always the right approach nor the answer. But sometimes you need a break, and sometimes that break comes in form of home decorating tips. We're constantly being bombarded with so much news and content that it's exhausting. It's important to remember that it's okay to rest for a minute, cool off, and take a few deep breaths. It's tempting to segment things and view any and all forms of entertainment as pointless. I mean, who cares what the latest gadget is when the world is potentially ending, right? I do, and I think that it's a good thing to care, even if it really doesn't matter, just to give yourself that break.

For a long time, that's what Facebook and Twitter used to be - fun distractions. They were places where you could post silly pictures and share cool things with like-minded people who share similar interests. I used to check them several times a day, and now that they are the world, and we need new places to escape to, I check them maybe once very ten days. Life is just so much more peaceful without all the noise and distraction that comes from these platforms.

I'm still working on this, trying to carve out my little corner of the internet as it pertains to me - to find things and people that I think matter and interests me separate from the mess of the rest of the internet. It's incredibly tough though, finding that apocalypse-free zone, but the process of it all is already making me happier.

What I'm trying to say is that Pinterest is hella rad, and as long as you can find a proper way to filter all the noise, the internet can be pretty awesome.