The importance of a good environment

After a few months of wandering around I finally moved into my apartment for the next year on Monday. The next day I picked up my new Macbook Air. After a good amount of time I’m back to having a good working environment, in more ways than one.

Over the last two months I’ve realized that it’s vital to have a decent environment if you want to get things done. It doesn’t have to be the best, it doesn’t have to have all the amenities, it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, overly indulgent environments are probably less conducive to good work than merely adequate ones. However, your environment does have to be good enough for you to sit down and do your work without constantly thinking or worrying about other things.

I’ve grown to like working in coffee shops and similar semi-public spaces. I also like my current internship office and I’m looking forward to setting up a nice office space once I start at Cornell. However it is nice to have a nice home to come back to. It’s nice to have options when it comes to work locations and spaces but it’s even better to feel that you’re not forced to choose. I had romantic notions of being a true techno-nomad – being able to work from wherever, whenever. Unfortunately I’ve found out the hard way that I’m not quite that hardy. I’m all for frugality and minimalism, but a good work and living environment is definitely worth investing in.

Talking of being a techno-nomad, for me my computing environment is just as important as my physical living environment. Just as it’s hard to get anything done if you’re constantly worrying about your living conditions, it’s hard to do anything if your machine is fighting against you instead of cooperating. Since almost all my work involves a computer in some shape or form it’s all the more important that I have a stable, working and adequate computing environment. Admittedly, getting a Macbook Air was a bit indulgent. But I wanted something that would last a few years, was close to the high end and that I could use as my only machine day in, day out. Since I had some money to spare (by virtue of previously mentioned internship) I decided it was worth it. I like the decision so far.

I’m considering the last few months to be part of my leaving college and growing up experience. And the importance of environments is one very important lesson that I’ve learned. I think I always knew that theoretically a good environment helps you create good work. However, now I know the practical effect of that theory firsthand. I’m sure there is some amount of personal preference involved, I know people who have done great work in pretty bad conditions. However, if you have the resources to set up and maintain a good environment then there are very few reasons why you shouldn’t do so.