To a lot of people the desk is very symbolic. Even where their desk is located has meaning. No one wants to be in the basement, but you don’t want to be in the middle of all the commotion either. We want to be productive, yet we like that our desk reflects our personal space. It inspires us and provides security. That is My Desk!
I suppose the fondness for desks evolved out of the “corner office.” Not only was that a coveted space, but having a finely built desk with leather inlay, was another symbol of authority. To this day having your own office with a nice desk and possibly a couch is a triumphant achievement. For many, they feel they’ve made it.
The reality is that desks are disappearing and being exchanged for “work spaces.” These common areas promote the work anywhere attitude and are void of distractions such as paper, pictures and trinkets, found on many personalized desks. The computer or new tablet is the new desk, even coining the term “desktop” as your home area when you turn on your computer. These tend to be personalized by the user and are very similar in how we maintain the other desks in our lives. Some are messy, efficient and bare. They are an extension of our personality.
The mini-documentary below, by imaginary forces examines the desk as a tool for how we work and who we are. It’s fascinating. Enjoy!
There is a great article at Smashing Magazine about how, as a society, we’ve gotten ourselves into this “365/24/7″ work mentality. Not only has it become unreasonable, but it’s also unsustainable.
Here’s a quote regarding the impact of the arrival of mobile web,
“Another factor that helped bring about this landscape is the mobile Web and the near unlimited connectivity it offers. Given that a number of us have our businesses online, we are all expected to carry the Web with us any and everywhere we go. Thus eliminating any excuse for us to ever be out of reach. So many mobile devices bringing the Web into a more portable hand-held format was a game changer for many reasons, but this one was perhaps unforeseen by many in the online community.
Suddenly this Web trend exploded and connectivity not only became more accessible and common. It became an expectation. Especially for those working in the digital online realms, as we are seen to always be sort of ahead of the game when it comes to the digital media that shapes the Internet.”
This article is from the perspective of someone who is involved in an online business, but so many business are online and so many of us are always connected.
The article continues to encourage weekends off to spend them with family and to recharge. With the way that the economy is slowly inching forward, it takes much more time and energy at work than it used to. The potential for burnout is huge.
There are larger issues about work that need to be addressed and it’s true that a change is needed. A big change. Taking weekends off is a great start and is something that we can all relate to.
We spend a lifetime searching for who we are supposed to be. The process is long and arduous, getting new jobs, taking on a new sport and even marrying someone else, because that is what we think will get us closer to our goal of self understanding. It’s a constantly moving target it seems with very little resolve.
The quickest way to this self understanding may be to understand what we are not. Kids are great examples of this. They speak so freely about what they want and what they don’t like. It’s only with age that we learn these rules of what we should and shouldn’t do.
What do you want to do? It’s a very common question that we hear, get asked and ask others, a lot. You could put this question in a hat with others like, Who are you? What do you want to be? What do you believe in? I think the last question is a great one. Knowing what you believe in will answer many questions at once. For example, if you know what you believe in, it will be easier for you to answer the “What do you want to do?” question, because you definitely will know what you DON’T want to do, so it should make the path to that answer easier.
Trusting your feelings and yourself is a hard thing to do. It takes a lot of practice, knowledge and experience. As we get older, this process gets easier. We are able to navigate the minefield of bad decisions as we understand their impact. Standing by our belief’s and making decisions based upon them, give us stability and confidence. It makes us feel like we did the right thing.
Take a risk and do something you truly believe in today, then bask in the freedom.
We’ve all experienced it. Certain times of the year, someone in the office gets sick and everyone in the office eventually gets it. That’s usually due to poor indoor air quality. When training to be a Certified Green Building Professional from Build It Green, we spent a lot of time talking about a core curriculum component of theirs, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Did you know that the air inside your office is more polluted than outside your office? The reason is that all of the construction materials that make up your office offgas poisonous fumes for years after installation.
Where indoor toxic chemicals live
For many of us it’s hard to believe that there are toxic chemicals offgasing every day into our office environments. The reason is that they live in, around and under the things that are all around us. So where are they?
There are three main ways to “green” the air inside your office, Elimination, Ventilation and Filtration.
This is pretty straight forward, remove or replace any component that is harmful. What this means is paint with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints, remove offgasing carpet and replace with recycled organic carpeting or flooring, trade out particle board furniture with metal or organic wood substitutions, use organic cleaners and ask pet owners to use organic pet spray’s.
Increasing air flow can be tricky. If your office doesn’t have any windows there is only so much that you can do. If you do have a window or door that can occasionally be left open, that would be ideal. Possibly have fans placed in certain areas that move the fresh air from the source throughout the office. If you don’t have any fresh air ventilation options, then focus on Filtration.
There is a great article by Matt Thomas who works for Automattic, makers of WordPress, where he describes in great detail how he “grows fresh air” in his home office. He points to a fantastic video on TED by Kamal Meattle, who describes how growing fresh air in his office in New Delhi has prolonged his and all of his employee’s lives. This is a must watch, here is the video.
Adding plants into any office creates a much more inspiring and motivated office. The plants that Kamal mentions above are,
Areca Palm – 4 shoulder high plants, per person
Mother-in-laws tongue – 6 to 8 waist high, per person
Money Plant – Removes formaldehyde and other volatile chemicals
Maintaining these plants can be a daunting task, so consider hiring an indoor plant service service and negotiating a price. Though many employers may think of this as an added expense, offsetting increased healthcare costs and loss of productivity due to absences, may well be worth the investment.
There is also a great book called How to Grow Fresh Air, by Bill Wolverton (Affiliate Link) that Matt mentions above, which highlights 50 other air filtering plants that are great for the home or office.
If moving offices or modifying your office to increase the quality of your indoor air is a problem, work with your landlord to see what options you have. They may have some experience on the issue or may pay for some of the modifications you are needing. In the end following through on each of these ways will significantly improve air quality, reduce the number of sick days by employees and improve overall health and well being of the office.
We all have many firsts. Today was my daughters first day of Kindergarten. My wife and I thought a lot about it. We discussed how she would feel, whether or not she would make friends or if her teacher would be nice or not. We just want her to be happy and not scared.
Today when we dropped her off, it was a little chaotic. Parents everywhere with video camera’s, posing for pictures and people crying. My daughter showed us around, we went yesterday to meet the teacher, played on the playground and endured our multiple photo shoots. She was calm.
We said our goodbyes and told her I would pick her up later and that I loved her. She said okay and jumped in line to go to her classroom. As she approached the room, there was one last turn, a wave and she was gone. I couldn’t help but feel a moment had gone by. I knew this was the first of many “firsts” that we were going to encounter over the next several years with her.
Reflecting on the moment I realized that my daughter appeared to take it all in as a new adventure. She enjoyed the moment, didn’t cry and was having fun! It also came to my attention that my wife and I worried more about what might happen. I think that’s natural when you have kids. There is always so much emotion involved when raising kids. The trick is to not get too caught up in making up stories.
I have a lot of friends and clients that are going through many “firsts” right now. They are starting new careers, moving into new homes or contemplating big bold moves. The natural reaction is to be a little bit scared. The truth is that there is nothing more liberating than creating a new direction for yourself and following that path. It’s truly living.
We have many opportunities in life to create something new in our lives. Re-invent our careers, our lives or even who we are. Don’t like your job? Create your own business. Want a new body? Workout at a real gym. Want to live healthier? Go green!
As we move through our lives we can learn from other peoples “firsts” and realize that they can be opportunities. My daughter taught me today that she can embrace her new adventures and I’m confident she’ll be ready for the next one.
A couple of years ago I started thinking about all of the things we are throwing away. I had known about composting, but never really had a great example to follow. The pictures and video information that I found were incomplete and would show just pieces of what to do.
I made this video about Easy Home Composting to try and provide some practical examples of what I do, how we compost daily and what we do with our compost.
I launched WesChyrchel.com a year ago today. It was a big deal for me. It’s a site where I can share ideas and interesting opinions about green products, services and about being green. A “green” lifestyle is something more personal for me and has more meaning than purchasing “green” stuff.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve realized that everyone needs to find out what green means to them. As with life, one of our many goals is to find out who we are. It’s an interesting question. What do you like or don’t like? What do you believe in or don’t believe in? What’s your passion? What motivates you? What do you stand for? These are all fascinating questions. One of the benefits as we get older, is that these life questions slowly get answered one by one. There is a huge sense of freedom knowing who you are. It’s moving.
For me, being green was an opportunity to take inventory. My life has progressed so quickly that I just tried to keep up. Life can sometimes get overwhelming and I would tell my nieces, “you don’t have to be the best, you just have to keep up!” Sure there is some truth to that, but what does “best” really mean? The best ever or the best you can do? I believe it’s the best you can do at the time. If you want to improve on it, come back later and take it to the next step, otherwise move on to the next thing.
To go green, the first thing I did was to start reading, a lot. I read every article, book and magazine I could get my hands on. I became a Certified Green Building Professional from Build It Green. I went to conferences, networking events and visited businesses. I really wanted to know what it meant to “be green.” I started getting overwhelmed with the thought of how people were going to be green. I thought, “no one is going to do this. No one is going to completely stop buying one product that they have used for generations and start buying another.” The truth is, yes they will. What worked for me, was to not do it all at once. I just did a little at a time, when I had the money. My biggest “aha moment” was composting. It really made me realize how much we throw away. My composting has grown from one composting unit to three. I almost never put anything in the green trash can anymore and the rest goes into the compost bin or is turned into mulch.
I now do rainwater harvesting, planted a garden, am switching old no-so-healthy plants out with edibles, like fruit trees and herbs, switched out my shower heads to 1.5 GPM, self recycle all of our bottles and cans and every time a lightbulb goes out, I replace it with a fluorescent bulb. This has all happened within a year. It’s been a lot of fun to see this grow. I have never imposed on my family any of these ideas and just told them what I was doing. Slowly but surely my wife and daughter have gotten on board. All of our detergents have been switched out with greener options, we buy more fresh food and produce, we all recycle and everyone uses the composting container in the kitchen. I guess the lead by example thing is working.
It’s not only about saving the planet, it’s personal
I’ve been working as a web developer for over 12 years now. It’s truly been a magical ride. I feel very privileged to see history unfolding right before my eyes. When working in this industry you more often than nought, work with startups. It’s a very interesting social experiment. These companies usually have a lot of money or they are bootstrapping it. Typically, the entrepreneurial spirit is high and dreams of being the next Internet millionaire are thick. It’s exciting and energy is high. Ego’s are at their peak and everyone is working at 200% capacity. You have to move fast, make good decisions and go the distance. That’s how make it or that’s what everyone tells you how it’s made. The sad result is that these companies rarely make it. They either die a quick and painless death, the company dissolves and shuts the doors or they lay off most of the company and slowly dies a public and painful death. Lives are ruined, friends become enemies and reputations are destroyed. Then they do it all over again.
It is a lot of fun and you learn a lot, but after years of this you learn what works and what doesn’t. You see your family grow and change and you start to think about what you want your life to be like. Friends and family confide in you about their lives and you see that your experiences with startups isn’t that unique. This seems to be the workforce of today in general. People want balance. They want part of their life back.
What’s happening is that people’s lives have changed and the working environment is slow to catch up. They want flexibility and they want to be a part of something great. They want their work to not just be the place where they exist for eight hours a day. They want to change the world. They want meaning.
Green has become a metaphor for sustainability and sustainability has become a metaphor for how we work and live. If we have to be more sustainable with how we live, we most definitely have to be more sustainable with how we work. It can’t just be at home. It has to be everything. Businesses need to learn to become sustainable in how they operate daily and in the future. This is the time for businesses to re-invent themselves and stop the bad habits of the past. The survivors will be the ones that embrace these sustainable changes and implement them quickly. The result will be leaner greener businesses that are profitable, scaleable and treat their employees as valuable assets. This is the next chapter of being green and on Earth Day we should take a moment and ask ourselves what we want our lives to be like in the future. How has everything been going? Is it sustainable? I think we all know the answer.
There are many videos on YouTube about Edible Landscaping. This family in Pasadena makes a living off of their organic produce that they grow right at their home. Their “urban homestead” called Path to Freedom was started by the father to support their family with good produce. It has now grown into a business where it can feed their family and create revenue for their family all at the same time.