My New Analog Workspace

Feb 2, 2018

I've been a fan of Austin Kleon's work for a long time. I hadn't read his books for a while, though, until last week I was prompted to pick them back up because I recommended them to my son, who likes to write and make things. I started with Steal Like an Artist and, I am sad to say, I had forgotten how good they are. One of the ideas, which he's written about elsewhere as well, is to have a digital workspace and an analog workspace. The digital workspace is for working on the computer, iPad, anything else electronic. The analog workspace, however, is a no-electronics-allowed area that's all about paper and pen/pencil/marker/etc.

A couple of years ago, when I got my first coding job, I took my first paycheck and re-did my office. I went all out at Ikea and got some bookshelves, a pull-out couch, and a nice, big dining room table I could use as a desk. The initial intent had been to set up an area where I could write away from my large monitor. It's hard to focus on pen and paper sometimes when you have a huge monitor in your face. But then I never did. The area of my desk not dominated by my computer setup became the place where I stack stuff—papers, books, junk that I didn't have time to deal with at the moment. Reading Steal Like an Artist reminded me of this and I decided to go ahead and set it up and, I have to say, I really love it.

It's not fancy. I went to Target and got a desk organizer and a magazine box that I could use to hold the things I wanted to have on hand. They double as bookends for whatever writing books I want to have readily available. So now I have my notebooks, my favorite pens, some calligraphy supplies, and my 3x5 cards all right there waiting for me. And, even though it's on the same desk as my computer, I have to move my chair to go between the two areas, so it's like a little oasis. Just looking at it calms me down and I find that I want to spend more and more time there. I think about sitting down there to write more than I ever thought about sitting down at my desk before I set it up. It's inspiring me to write more, which makes me so happy.