Before I decided to truly set out on my own sure, I had a workspace at home, but it definitely wasn’t anything near what I have now. In this post I’ll be outlining the process of upgrading my sparse, hovel like work area into a technology creative workspace worthy of a mad-scientist turned Michelangelo, or at least a consistently productive 21st century entrepreneur.
I started out with a desk. It wasn’t a particularly impressive desk, but I figure what goes on and in the desk is more important than what the desk actually looks like. If you’re interested in doing work with hardware or anything even slightly “crafty”, possibly involving a file, soldering iron or a saw of any type it helps if the desk is not a brand new desk. That way you won’t worry as much when it first catches fire or you spill some type of conductive fluid all over it. Luckily for me, once when I reassembled my desk after a move I managed to put one of the longer screws in where there should have been shorter screw. I could have beat myself up over this mistake, but I figured there would be other, much worse mistakes in my future. To worry about something of this magnitude would just make the list of mistakes I remember that much longer. I plan to follow the same procedure the first time the desk catches fire as well.
Then there’s all the stuff. Like me you probably have stuff. I’ve found that while stuff likes to live on the floor and the desk, it’s better when my stuff is divided into categories and it lives somewhere neatly out of the way. So I did that. During this process I made nice little piles on the floor. You know, cause that’s where the stuff wanted to be. But then I got regimented. I decided I didn’t really care for stepping between these piles and so I started to stockpile boxes, crates and anything else that I could cram sensors, tools and wires into. Then these containers needed shelving to contain them! In the process of unpacking all of the sensors I bought before leaving SparkFun (gotta take advantage of that employee discount!) I wound up with a small mountain of plastic bags. So these all got jammed into another container and placed on the shelf along with random things like PVC piping and foam core.
Here’s another one- cables. Odds are, if you do anything involving technology, like being awake these days, you’ve got a ton of cables lying around. I’m slightly obsessed with magnets but this time it’s with good reason! I’m fairly proud of this one- I used small magnets instead of twisty ties (I also love twisty ties, but that’s another story) to keep my cables managed and attached to the metal legs of my table. This is a really nice set up unless you have a small child, in which case you have to worry about the little dudes swallowing some magnets.
Next to the all important computer (you know, one of them thingies with a big screen) you probably want a space for soldering and rework. Trying to avoid setting my desk on fire too much I went to home depot and asked the people there if they had any fire retardant material that I could use as a surface on my desk. After a bunch of blank stares one guy pointed me towards their tiling section. I didn’t need anything fancy and his suggestion worked just fine. Even better, it’s portable for when I feel like doing some soldering outside.
There are a few more obvious tidbits, such as putting all the various things on rolls (solder, wire, tape, butter… wait, what?) on a dowel and suspending that between some of the shelving. Making sure that your stuff actually winds up back in it’s place after usage. Find an area you can use to cordon off all the stuff that you collect because someday you’ll fix it, or use it, or give it to some poor suffering soul. You’re not really going to use it anytime soon and if you need it you can dig through a small pile because, let’s face it, you’re never really going to need it. And then there’s doing the work. That’s a tough one. There’s no way around it. You just have to sit down and do it.
The funny thing is, after all that work creating this wonderful space to work in I find myself at the local lake writing my blogs. It’s important to get away from all of the distraction of a truly dialed in workspace occasionally in order to get the work that requires less hardware, but more concentration, done.
As I proudly surveyed my desk, reclaimed from the depths of chaos, Cthulhu’s underlings, the various demi-gods of clutter and non-productivity. I found myself needing more good old fashioned light. I could have ordered a fancy lamp online but since it was spring I just kept an eye out for yard sales. Eventually I found one. It cost me two bucks. I’d like to leave you with the image of me rollerblading home with a full sized lamp in hand over the stretch of something like a half a mile. I hope you find it amusing. My neighbors certainly did.