2: Redundant Office


00:00:00   I have some follow up.

00:00:01   Oh, we're just jumping into this? Okay.

00:00:02   Well, I don't know. Do you want to?

00:00:04   I guess so. I don't know how to do this.

00:00:06   Neither do I.

00:00:08   I figure we just do it and see what happens.

00:00:10   Go for it. Follow up.

00:00:11   [DING]

00:00:12   After last week's traumatizing experience,

00:00:16   I've taken some steps in my life to try and change my habits.

00:00:20   It was not traumatizing.

00:00:22   It was traumatizing for me. I was thinking a lot about what I'd done.

00:00:26   [LAUGHTER]

00:00:28   Okay.

00:00:29   So in our show notes, you will find two images.

00:00:34   And if you click those images,

00:00:35   you will see how my iPhone currently looks.

00:00:38   - Oh, it's still rocking that background, huh?

00:00:41   Still rocking that wallpaper.

00:00:42   - Yeah, that's the next step.

00:00:45   It's baby steps, baby steps.

00:00:47   Come on.

00:00:48   I was hoping for a bit more congratulations

00:00:50   over what I've done to my home screen.

00:00:52   - I'm saying that the first thing that catches my eye

00:00:54   is that wallpaper.

00:00:55   But for the listeners,

00:00:57   Myke has gone from three iPhone screens down to two, if you're showing me everything.

00:01:02   Yes, it looks like you just have two.

00:01:04   And your home screen now is a nice row of 4x4 instead of 4x7 or whatever the heck it was last time.

00:01:14   And you don't have any folders or any other nonsense. No periscope on your home page.

00:01:19   So I would say this looks much improved.

00:01:23   there's still room for improvement. The wallpaper obviously, the four icons in

00:01:28   the dock, the very fact that Twitter is on your phone, but much much improved so

00:01:33   I will congratulate you on your baby step.

00:01:36   So my main problem right now is I want to

00:01:39   have one more row of icons. I don't want to have two gaps like you know a double

00:01:44   space that's not really what I want but I can't think of four apps to go there.

00:01:49   You know I have a solution for this problem of yours. If you put four folders as the very top row on your phone

00:01:56   Then you won't have the double gap.

00:01:58   So that's something I want to do, but I cannot bring myself to

00:02:03   Put everything that's on my second screen to four folders. I tried and this was at the moment as far as I could go

00:02:10   And I'm trying I am trying so like you see on the second screen

00:02:15   gonna have those four apps, iA writer, Scratch, Inbox and Spark. They're like

00:02:20   testing apps, I'm trialing those, which is why they're there. But putting all those

00:02:26   folders in, like I tried to put clock and settings into folders and couldn't do

00:02:30   that because they're too like muscle memory. So then I only really have space

00:02:34   for two. It's been horrible. Basically after we recorded last week I was going

00:02:39   to meet a friend and I had like a 90 minute train journey. For 90 minutes I

00:02:43   I sat and did this on the entire train journey,

00:02:46   like disgusted at myself.

00:02:48   I sat and moved apps around on my screen.

00:02:51   My phone felt like it was on fire.

00:02:52   - If there's one thing we know,

00:02:54   it's that rearranging icons on iOS

00:02:58   is a pleasurable experience.

00:03:00   It's not frustrating in the slightest

00:03:02   to try and move icons around on iOS.

00:03:04   They make that really great.

00:03:06   That's lovely the way Apple handles that.

00:03:09   - And I'm starting to get used to it a little bit more,

00:03:12   but I'm still sometimes like,

00:03:14   I don't even know where anything is anymore.

00:03:16   And then I kind of have a tiny, tiny breakdown

00:03:19   and then I get over it and use search.

00:03:21   - I'm glad this podcast is improving your life, it seems.

00:03:24   - Well.

00:03:26   - It's better now than it was a week ago.

00:03:30   - I think so.

00:03:31   So great.

00:03:33   Last week we spoke about the devices that you use, right?

00:03:36   This week, I wanna talk about where you use them.

00:03:39   Like working environments.

00:03:42   as well because I know that you have a selection of places

00:03:45   that you like to do your work in.

00:03:46   So I wanna kind of talk about them

00:03:49   and understand why you have so many

00:03:51   and kind of what the different uses are for each of them.

00:03:55   I also want to talk about this redundant bag thing

00:03:59   that you have.

00:04:00   - Okay, where do you wanna start?

00:04:01   - So I think, I assume that you probably have a,

00:04:05   no matter where you are, a set of things

00:04:08   that you like to have around you at all times, right?

00:04:11   There is-- I imagine that there is a--

00:04:14   even though the location changes and some of the components

00:04:16   change, that there is a kind of a template of things

00:04:19   that you like to have.

00:04:21   I have a minimal functional working environment, I guess,

00:04:26   sounds like what you're kind of asking about,

00:04:28   which is what is the smallest number of things

00:04:30   that I require to effectively get work done?

00:04:34   And that would be an iPad, an external keyboard

00:04:38   for that iPad, an iPad stand, and a pair of headphones.

00:04:43   Like that's-- without those things,

00:04:46   I'm probably not going to get very much done.

00:04:49   And that is the minimum number of things

00:04:51   that I would require to have an effective little office

00:04:54   environment if I'm traveling, for example.

00:04:57   So there tends to always be a computer device

00:04:59   or some description, whether it be your iPad,

00:05:02   or you said you had a MacBook Air, right,

00:05:04   or your Retina iMac.

00:05:06   Yes, yes.

00:05:07   there's a computing device of some kind and there's a keyboard to type?

00:05:11   Is that what you're asking about? I input things into computers. This is how I

00:05:15   work. I work with computers. Yeah, I wondered if maybe, because I know that

00:05:19   you write scripts on paper sometimes, right? That is a thing that

00:05:23   you do. When you do that, do you like, like you shoot computers

00:05:27   do you go somewhere and just with a notepad or are you still in that

00:05:31   kind of scenario, there's a computer around still? I am capable of

00:05:35   getting work done without any computers under certain circumstances.

00:05:40   Because the main thing that takes up most of my working time is

00:05:45   writing and largely rewriting.

00:05:49   And so sometimes that writing can take three different forms.

00:05:55   I either need to talk through a script that I'm working on out loud.

00:06:00   I need to write that script or edit that script on a computer, or sometimes I do print out the scripts and then I edit them by hand.

00:06:12   It's that last mode which is an interesting one for me sometimes because...

00:06:18   The writing process is weird. I'm aware that sometimes my brain just feels a great resistance to writing.

00:06:27   Like, "Oh, don't want to write today."

00:06:29   And sometimes writing with paper and pen is a way to kind of force my brain to get started on this project.

00:06:39   So on some mornings if I can just feel that there is some resistance to actually wanting to get work done today,

00:06:46   one of the tricks that I can do is basically just grab some printouts of the projects that I am currently working on and a pen,

00:06:54   and then just go off and, like, go to a cafe nearby and just only have those items with me.

00:07:02   And this is a way to kind of force myself to work out of just sheer lack of options.

00:07:07   There's nothing else to do. You don't have your computer with you, you just have some paper and you just have a pen,

00:07:13   and there's nothing else. There's only this, so I guess we're going to sit down, brain you and me,

00:07:18   and we're going to edit this script together.

00:07:20   So I guess that really is the minimum working environment, but that's not a very frequent thing that happens.

00:07:28   That's more like a little brain trick for myself to try to get things started on a day when they might not otherwise get started.

00:07:35   When you're in that kind of isolation mode, do you have your phone with you?

00:07:39   Yeah, that's the tricky thing. I try not to bring the phone with me.

00:07:45   And obviously it is way more effective if I don't bring the phone with me.

00:07:49   Cuz then you literally have nothing.

00:07:51   Like, there's nothing.

00:07:53   Exactly. Like, "What is this, 1995? I have gone to a place and I just, I have nothing with me."

00:07:59   And that is one place where I have done a little bit of very limited experimentation now with the Apple Watch.

00:08:07   Because having headphones and music is really helpful. That's kind of the breaking point here.

00:08:12   point here as I always think, well I do want to bring just my phone so I can listen to some music

00:08:16   to block out all of the other people in the cafe. But then you know your tricksy tricksy brain is

00:08:21   like, hey on the phone there's things that are not work maybe we could do those instead. And so the

00:08:26   watch has actually been helpful. I've done this a couple times now with the watch of just pairing

00:08:30   Bluetooth headphones to the watch and going out with just some papers and a pen and then sitting

00:08:35   down and writing. Because then there really are there really are no other options. That's really

00:08:40   interesting as an idea I hadn't thought of that I don't have Bluetooth headphones

00:08:43   so I'd never even considered it like I haven't put any music on my watch at all

00:08:47   because I have no way of playing it but that's that's really smart like that's

00:08:52   one of those things where you're like huh this device does make a difference

00:08:56   the other thing is I don't know just as just as a general working philosophy I

00:09:00   feel like you have to be really open to tricking your own brain it's like you

00:09:07   You almost have to think of your brain as a kind of adversary in some ways.

00:09:11   Yeah, I love that. That's really... I like that a lot.

00:09:15   Well, but it's true that your brain is...

00:09:19   It's like 80% monkey and 20% human

00:09:23   is how the brain is. And you just have to hope that the human is able

00:09:27   to be in control, but you know there are plenty

00:09:31   of times when the human brain is not going to be in control and you have to like plan for those

00:09:35   contingencies about what kind of structure can we set up so that the monkey doesn't have

00:09:39   any options except to do what I want.

00:09:42   That is very hard.

00:09:44   Don't get me like it's really easy to say, it's very, very hard to do.

00:09:49   So a lot of things in my working environment are about trying to minimize any kind of friction,

00:09:56   like trying to have really clear guidelines for, "Oh look, the work, it's over here and

00:10:01   it's easy to do."

00:10:04   But yeah, the writing with no other options is like a last resort of trying to get this

00:10:12   process started.

00:10:14   When you work, what can and can't you listen to, and does this change depending on the

00:10:18   type of work that you're doing?

00:10:20   I have a bunch of different playlists for different kinds of work that I'm doing.

00:10:25   And I try to actually kind of set up different associations with different kinds of music

00:10:30   for different sorts of work.

00:10:32   Let's say for example I'm doing work that I absolutely loathe, which is generally administrative

00:10:37   work of some sort or another.

00:10:40   Emails, paperwork, stuff that requires my attention but doesn't necessarily drive the

00:10:46   business forward in a really valuable way, but that still has to get done.

00:10:52   That I have a kind of electronica sort of playlist that I listen to of high energy music,

00:10:59   but that also has no lyrics in it.

00:11:03   Because I feel like I need something to try to help keep me going on boring work.

00:11:09   But it can't have words in it, because if it has words in it, then it crashes in my

00:11:13   brain with trying to write an email to someone.

00:11:15   It just won't work at all.

00:11:16   Or if I'm just trying to fill out boring tax paperwork, I can't have a voice in my ear

00:11:22   that is also talking.

00:11:24   So that's one kind of playlist that I listen to.

00:11:27   And then I have a variety of other different kind of melodic playlists that I listen to

00:11:30   either if I'm writing or if I'm reading.

00:11:34   But one of the things that is interesting to me is that there is an album that I have

00:11:38   listened to more than any other, which is Girl Talks All Day.

00:11:44   I don't know if you're familiar with this or not.

00:11:45   It's one of the greatest albums for concentration on the entire planet, yes.

00:11:50   I am familiar with it.

00:11:51   Okay, it's interesting that you say that.

00:11:54   I can't remember how I first found this, but it is, for those who haven't ever heard it,

00:12:00   it's a remix album is the way to describe it, but that doesn't give it credit for the

00:12:06   genius that it is.

00:12:07   This guy basically took the catchy parts of a whole bunch of songs and put them together

00:12:11   in very interesting ways and made this whole new album.

00:12:14   And more importantly, it's a single album.

00:12:18   It's not really broken up into individual songs.

00:12:20   It's like one hour long track that changes tone as it goes on.

00:12:26   Would you say, is that a fair way to describe it?

00:12:28   I always have a hard time trying to describe it.

00:12:30   Yeah, it's mashups basically.

00:12:33   But it's done in such a way that it's just like a snapshot of music and it all ties back

00:12:40   into each other.

00:12:41   And Girl Talk is an artist and he has a bunch of different albums.

00:12:44   I prefer Feed the Animals, which is just another one that I really, really love.

00:12:51   But they're all just fantastic.

00:12:55   For me, I've tried a few of the other albums.

00:12:57   I've never quite gotten into any of the others, but I know the reason for that.

00:13:03   The reason is I have listened to Girl Talk all day on repeat.

00:13:08   I don't know how many times.

00:13:09   Hundreds of times is very easy to say.

00:13:13   And that is the only exception to the "no words" rule.

00:13:20   That I can listen to that album when I am writing.

00:13:24   And I find it very helpful to listen to that album on repeat when I'm writing.

00:13:30   And I try to build up this little association with my brain of various things.

00:13:35   Like okay, we're sitting down in this environment and this album is playing now.

00:13:40   You know what you're supposed to do, monkey brain.

00:13:42   supposed to write now. And it is very helpful and it's because I have listened to that one

00:13:49   so much it's like the words aren't even registering in my brain as words anymore. So they don't

00:13:54   have this kind of collision. So it's very strange but if not at the very beginning part

00:13:59   of writing a script but when a script has gone through a couple of drafts so there's

00:14:03   some kind of structure to it then I can very easily put on girl talk all day and just write

00:14:08   while I'm listening to that. So that's something else that's kind of in my working environment,

00:14:14   I guess is the way to describe it. I have another album that I listen to for the same kind of

00:14:20   purpose, and it's called "Retroactive Part 1" and it's by... there's a record label

00:14:29   called Bravewave, and they tend to do composition for video games. They've actually... they did the

00:14:37   the music for inquisitive on relay FM and they also do the theme song for

00:14:41   virtual relay FM we ever we use these guys to help us with some of our music

00:14:46   because it's all just fantastic stuff and the guy the composer of this album

00:14:51   his name is Keiji Yamagashi he's done some incredible music in the past like

00:14:57   just a bunch of different games and this album is just incredible and it's like

00:15:01   you know a lot of chiptune type stuff and it's video game sounding music but I

00:15:06   I put this on and it's like, okay, I'm in full concentration mode now.

00:15:09   And I use this a lot when I ever do script writing and stuff like that, I use this album.

00:15:15   Because it really, it's the same idea. When I hear it, it's like, oh, okay, it's concentration time.

00:15:23   Like, and it just locks me in and I kind of can just do what I need to do.

00:15:27   Yeah, I think the music is helpful both because of its association factor.

00:15:33   Like, many routines are just about trying to associate particular activities with particular actions.

00:15:38   But the music, I think, is helpful because it's like it, it engages the part of your brain that wants to get distracted.

00:15:46   You know, it's kind of like you've given the monkey a Rubik's Cube to play with, right?

00:15:50   And it's really focused on that, and so it can kind of let the human part of your brain get to work and be focused,

00:15:57   instead of constantly looking over your shoulder and going like, "Hey, what about this other thing?

00:16:01   other thing? Hey, why don't we go over there? Why don't we do this other thing over in this place?

00:16:05   I feel like that's what the music is doing, is it's like occupying

00:16:09   the distractable part of your mind. It's not so much even that it's helping

00:16:13   you focus, it's just keeping something else in your brain

00:16:17   busy and spinning away from you, so that you can actually get something

00:16:21   done. Do you have a bag that you kind of carry around? Or

00:16:25   because, you know, I know that you have these different setups, it seems like you kind of have stuff

00:16:29   where you need it to be, but do you carry stuff around with you in a rucksack or a briefcase

00:16:34   or anything like that?

00:16:35   If we talk about my working life for the past few years, a big part of that is actually

00:16:44   working in London.

00:16:46   Like I live in central London, I really love the city, and one of the reasons that I love

00:16:51   it is because, I mean I've been here 12 years now and for that entire time I have always

00:16:59   loved to just take a backpack and go out into the city and walk around and then find a place

00:17:07   to sit down to work for maybe an hour and a half or two hours and then get up again

00:17:12   and take another little walk and find some other place to sit down and do another burst

00:17:16   of work and then get up.

00:17:18   That little cycle I find is extremely conducive to working and to getting things done.

00:17:25   Is location, movement, location, movement.

00:17:30   I don't know why, I just find that's very helpful.

00:17:33   But of course, that then requires a backpack.

00:17:36   And you need to have a little mobile working station in there.

00:17:41   And that's why most of the days when I go out, I have in my backpack at the bare minimum.

00:17:45   I have my iPad, the iPad stand, a keyboard and a pair of headphones.

00:17:50   And that's what I will take as my mobile working environment 90% of the time.

00:17:57   Every once in a while I'll take a laptop but that's pretty rare and I usually have some

00:18:01   specific laptop required task that needs to get done.

00:18:04   But 90% of the time it's the iPad.

00:18:07   So your bag, the bag that you do take with you, is that something that you pack or is

00:18:12   it something that is always packed?

00:18:14   it has stuff in it that stays in the bag and never leaves the bag.

00:18:18   I have two backpacks that I try to keep in a constant state of readiness.

00:18:24   Yes. Go bags!

00:18:26   Exactly.

00:18:28   I have passports in them, I have currency for different countries.

00:18:32   That's right. There's $100,000 and some fake IDs and a whole life just waiting for me in Russia.

00:18:39   But yeah, so I have two bags and I do my best to try to keep them packed all the time.

00:18:47   Because this goes back to the idea of eliminating resistance.

00:18:51   And I do a lot of things that people think are kind of weird, but if you--they're all

00:18:56   unified under this idea of "I want to make it as easy for myself to get some work done

00:19:03   as possible."

00:19:04   And even a little thing like, "Oh, I want to go out for the day and do some work.

00:19:09   Oh, my backpack isn't packed."

00:19:12   It's remarkable how I can find that kind of stuff will actually interfere with how quickly

00:19:18   will I get ready in the morning, and then how long does it take me to get out the door,

00:19:22   and then there's like this knock-on effect for the whole rest of the day.

00:19:25   So at nighttime, as part of my kind of shutdown routine, I have a little note to myself to

00:19:33   Just double check that the two backpacks that I have are kind of set and ready for the next day with everything in them

00:19:40   That needs to needs to go and this is where we talked about last time

00:19:44   I have multiple iPads and so I have like one iPad is in each and I have a little

00:19:49   Station in my office where I can put the two backpacks and have both iPads

00:19:53   charging one in each of them at the same time and they always just live over there and they're just set and

00:19:59   and ready to go at a moment's notice.

00:20:01   - That is just so beautiful.

00:20:04   Like, you know, there is the place with the two iPads

00:20:07   and they're both charging and they're ready to go.

00:20:09   Like that way of working, this is it, right?

00:20:12   'Cause I suffer from the same thing that you do.

00:20:14   If I plan to do something and just the tiniest thing

00:20:18   gets in the way, it's like, well, day's over.

00:20:20   Can't go work now because a shoelace has snapped

00:20:24   or something, you know, I just can't deal with it.

00:20:27   So having that... removing the resistance from allowing you to do something is so important

00:20:34   and if you are a person that works that way, finding ways to get around that stuff is incredibly useful and remain unproductive

00:20:42   I feel like we could do a whole show kind of talking about routines

00:20:46   but there's... when you work yourself into a situation where you are a self-employed person

00:20:51   and you don't have anyone to report to, and then this is extra true, this is somewhat true for you, but it is extra true for me,

00:20:58   that you don't necessarily have anywhere in particular to be at a particular time, like you just let the whole day is free in front of you.

00:21:08   It turns out it is remarkably hard sometimes to keep on track when you don't have external pressures and external deadlines.

00:21:20   And yes, I have discovered the same thing too, that the way my day goes in the morning determines how the whole rest of the day goes.

00:21:28   Which kind of sounds crazy because I used to work as a teacher and I was like, "Hey, guess what? If you have a bad time getting ready in the morning, like you still need to be at a particular class at that time and you need to be doing this thing."

00:21:39   And there's like this whole train that you just step on that takes you through your whole day when you are employed and somebody else is telling you what to do.

00:21:48   to do or if you have meetings throughout the whole rest of the day. But when you don't

00:21:52   have that external structure, it is much more important that certain things go smoothly

00:22:00   to kind of help you along with like here's how the day is going to go, here's how work

00:22:06   is going to play out. And yes, so my bags are one of the very many things that I have

00:22:12   set up to try to make it as easy as possible for me to work. Do you want to

00:22:17   hear--I don't know if you want to hear this--do you want to hear my bag checklist?

00:22:20   Yes. Where is this checklist live? This lives in OmniFocus. Just about every

00:22:28   other week I do this kind of big review and one of the things on that review is

00:22:32   to completely empty the two backpacks and then go through all of the items and

00:22:38   make sure everything is everything is there or to remove any extraneous items

00:22:43   that have somehow gotten into the bag. So it's very easy just to like have

00:22:47   receipts or like stuff you just throw into the bag without thinking or "ooh I

00:22:52   need this thing over here" and to take something out and then forget that you

00:22:55   know it's like I just want to make sure that at least every two weeks I have

00:22:59   reestablished that these two bags are in their their kind of perfect state. So

00:23:05   So here's the list, and I've arranged a list of that when I'm going through it, it's easier for me to have like both backpacks next to me and just check off these items.

00:23:13   Okay, so this template is in OmniFocus and then I can invoke it and go through all of the items.

00:23:19   So I need to check each bag has its appropriate iPad.

00:23:24   Now the one bag is for a regular day and the second bag, the blue bag, is for if I'm going to the gym.

00:23:33   And this is why there are two of them because the gym bag needs to be a little bit different than the regular day bag

00:23:39   But I want both of them just set at a moment's notice. Okay

00:23:42   So iPad in each then the gym bag additionally gets gym clothes

00:23:49   Flip-flops so we don't have to walk with bare feet in the area in the back of the gym

00:23:54   And then you the gym membership card in the gym bag as well

00:23:57   Then each bag requires a 12 watt charger each bag requires a 2 meter lightning cable

00:24:05   Each bag requires a micro USB cable each bag requires a Logitech keyboard and

00:24:13   Then again each I'll just each bag gets each of these things

00:24:17   There's also an iPad stand a small packable umbrella a pack of caffeine pills a pack of

00:24:25   Aspirin. Wait, come on. A small screen cleaner. No, no, we're stopping. We're going back

00:24:31   You know, you're not just bro- caffeine like pro plus kind of stuff? Yeah pro plus kind of stuff

00:24:36   Well, that'll come up on another show. Don't you worry about that? Okay?

00:24:39   Okay, so the caffeine pills the aspirin a small screen cleaner like one of those little wipes you can clean off a screen

00:24:47   a 50 pound note a

00:24:50   protein bar, a small pack... Why do you have a 50 pound note? A small pack of almonds,

00:24:56   a spare pack of AAA batteries... What are the batteries for? And then... wait I'm not talking about...

00:25:04   And then each bag gets a noise cancelling headphone plus the case for

00:25:10   the noise cancelling headphones. So those are the items that each bag is required

00:25:14   to have and then the gym bag also has just gym stuff in it. So there we go. So I

00:25:18   So I run through that checklist once every two weeks to make sure all of these items

00:25:21   are in each of the bags.

00:25:23   And there are no follow up questions, which is very nice.

00:25:24   Great.

00:25:25   So that's just, I think it's all pretty straightforward.

00:25:26   No.

00:25:27   50 pound note.

00:25:28   Why is there a 50 pound note in there?

00:25:32   Why do you think there's a 50 pound note?

00:25:33   Do you not take your wallet with you?

00:25:35   Okay, so this is, this is like a pro tip for everybody.

00:25:39   This is like a life tip.

00:25:41   I have found it useful to have on hand just some backup cash for minor emergencies or

00:25:51   problems.

00:25:52   Now, these things rarely happen, but every once in a while it really helps to just have

00:26:00   some additional cash on hand for...

00:26:04   I guess the thing that has happened most often in London is that for some reason I've forgotten

00:26:10   my keys, for example. And then, like, okay, well now I'm kind of stuck out in the world

00:26:17   and I just want to make sure that I have a little bit of additional cash because things,

00:26:23   like when one thing in life goes wrong, suddenly a bunch of things in life can go wrong. And

00:26:29   it always happens that if you forget your keys, this is also the time that the wallet

00:26:32   isn't in your pocket because you were just going outside, you know, briefly for a moment.

00:26:37   weren't intending to do a whole bunch of things.

00:26:40   So if one thing goes wrong, a bunch of things goes wrong.

00:26:43   And I want to have little capacitors almost,

00:26:46   little bits of backup system to make sure

00:26:48   that life can get back on track or kind of go smoothly.

00:26:52   And so just having a little bit of cache

00:26:54   available if there's some kind of problem is helpful.

00:26:59   I feel like I need a better example to try

00:27:01   to convince you of this.

00:27:02   No, no, no.

00:27:03   It's not-- I'm just interested by it,

00:27:05   because I assume that you are probably not a cash person.

00:27:09   - The thing with the 50 pound note

00:27:11   is that this is something that has become

00:27:13   less and less of a problem over time.

00:27:17   Like I'm aware that this is kind of an old habit now

00:27:20   as opposed to an actual necessity.

00:27:22   Because, I mean even like with my iPhone,

00:27:25   I can pay for some limited stuff

00:27:28   or you can get help with an iPhone.

00:27:30   Like this isn't like a big deal.

00:27:33   A long time ago when I was traveling in America, I used to have a key ring that had a special

00:27:39   little fob on the end that you could stick some money into, and you could put like a--

00:27:45   you could cram in like just barely like a hundred dollar bill into this, so you would

00:27:49   always just have on hand like an emergency hundred dollars.

00:27:52   That thing was very useful in the kind of pre-iPhone world, and I mean there was one

00:27:57   time when my wife and I got into a car accident, and we needed-- basically we needed to call

00:28:03   like a taxi cab company to drive us and our stuff to the nearest hotel, but they wouldn't

00:28:07   take credit cards, and so like knowing that you just have some cash on hand to try to

00:28:12   like solve this little bit of a problem is a security that you don't need it almost all

00:28:18   the time, but every once in a while it turns out to be very useful. So that's why it's

00:28:23   there. It's just like if I find myself out of the house, I have this little bit of backup

00:28:28   money even if other things go wrong. Like oh, my credit cards are declined and I'm locked

00:28:32   out of the house, well, I don't have to just be stuck in the city with no money.

00:28:36   I can just get like a sandwich and some water or whatever. Like that's why it's there.

00:28:40   I guess that was kind of the route that I thought it was gonna go, but

00:28:44   it was just still interesting to me that it's there, you know? Because I just can't

00:28:48   imagine you being a cash person, so... but that totally makes sense. I get that.

00:28:52   The cash isn't for me. I have no use for the cash. It's to give other

00:28:56   people in exchange for goods or services to alleviate problems. That's like...

00:29:00   the cash isn't for me, it's for other people.

00:29:02   That feels like a life lesson in general.

00:29:06   Money's not for me, man.

00:29:08   Yeah, that's how the money works.

00:29:11   It's not like, looking at the list,

00:29:14   like the protein bar that I keep in my backpack,

00:29:17   that's for me, that's not for other people.

00:29:20   Other people can't have my protein bar.

00:29:22   That's the difference between these items.

00:29:25   I'm very happy to say that this episode of Cortex

00:29:28   is brought to you by the good people of OmniFocus.

00:29:32   OmniFocus is the task manager that I use to run my whole life.

00:29:37   It's one of the most important apps that is available to me everywhere I need it.

00:29:43   It's on my phone, it's on my Mac, it's on my iPads.

00:29:47   It all syncs together so that I always know that I have a complete list of everything that I need to get done.

00:29:53   The great thing about OmniFocus is that it scales for what you need it to be.

00:29:58   If you just want to get started with OmniFocus to just keep a few simple lists, it can do that.

00:30:04   But if you find that over time your needs are growing, OmniFocus can do that as well.

00:30:10   One of the things I like about it is how OmniFocus allows me to slice and dice the various actions that I have in my system.

00:30:18   So at any moment I can pull up all of the actions that are, say, due today.

00:30:23   Or I can see all of the things that I need to do that are related to Cortex.

00:30:27   That's what's on my screen right now as I'm recording this ad, actually.

00:30:30   I can just press a button and see all of my Cortex-related tasks,

00:30:34   because that's what I'm sitting down to work on now.

00:30:37   And when I'm done with this ad, I'm going to go out and run a few errands,

00:30:41   and there's just a button that I press on OmniFocus that shows me all of the errands that I have to do.

00:30:46   That ability to see the tasks that you need to see right now and to ignore everything else in your system is

00:30:54   the reason that I use OmniFocus because it is built into the program from the ground up.

00:31:00   We're going to put the link in the show notes at omnigroup.com where you can go check out OmniFocus

00:31:07   and you should definitely give that a little click and take a look at it.

00:31:10   Now if you have never tried OmniFocus, one of the things that I think is quite amazing about the company that makes it is they

00:31:16   They offer a 30-day return policy on their apps, which is almost unheard of on the App

00:31:23   Store.

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00:31:28   for your brain, you can return it, and they will give you your money back.

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00:31:39   take a look at what are the projects I'm committed to, how far are they along, and what do I

00:31:44   need to do now.

00:31:46   I have tried every other task manager that is out there and I'm all in on OmniFocus.

00:31:52   It is an amazing program and you should definitely try it out today.

00:31:57   So go click the link in the show notes, that way Omni knows that you came from here and

00:32:02   try out OmniFocus today.

00:32:04   Let's get back to talking about working environments.

00:32:07   So I assume you have a home office.

00:32:08   Is that a dedicated room in your house?

00:32:10   Yes, I'm talking to you right now from my home office.

00:32:14   Do you have a standing desk, a seated desk?

00:32:16   Do you have a big desk, a small desk?

00:32:18   - I had originally intended to set up my office

00:32:20   in a whole bunch of ways when we moved into this apartment,

00:32:22   which is still in my mind the new apartment,

00:32:24   although we've been living here

00:32:25   for like a year and a half now.

00:32:27   And I intended to get a standing desk,

00:32:29   but this is just one of these things

00:32:30   that has fallen through the cracks.

00:32:32   So I just kind of have a normal black sitting desk

00:32:36   that I'm in front of right now,

00:32:37   and this is the one that my iMac is on.

00:32:39   But yeah, it's a dedicated room in my house.

00:32:41   I have a door that I can close, which is very exciting,

00:32:43   because I used to live in a-- technically, it was a more than one room apartment with

00:32:49   my wife, but I always describe it to people as functionally a studio, because the place

00:32:56   that we lived was so small that while, yes, there is a door between the living room and

00:33:02   the bathroom, it didn't make any practical difference in all the ways that you might

00:33:07   want to imagine that a door would make a practical difference with a bathroom situation.

00:33:11   So in our current living environment, it's still, I still walk around sometime and think,

00:33:17   "Wow, we have doors and rooms!

00:33:19   Like this is amazing!"

00:33:20   "What's in here?"

00:33:21   Exactly.

00:33:22   "It's another room!"

00:33:23   It is, it is a novelty that, I mean, again, we've been here a year and a half, but my

00:33:31   wife and I will still remark on the fact that it is possible for one of us to not know exactly

00:33:37   where the other person is. Because for the majority of our married life, we lived in

00:33:43   a space where you could either always see where the other person was, or they'd be behind

00:33:48   the door, right? And you knew that they were like behind that one door. So there was never

00:33:53   any mystery about where the person was.

00:33:55   Well that's great. Oh, he's behind the door.

00:34:00   Exactly. So that's why like having having an apartment now that has doors and an apartment

00:34:06   where I can have a dedicated office,

00:34:09   this feels like amazing, amazing luxury to me.

00:34:13   It's quite the upgrade.

00:34:14   - What do you like about working at home?

00:34:18   Like, is it more relaxed?

00:34:19   Do you like that like snacks and drinks are always there?

00:34:22   (laughing)

00:34:25   - See, the thing is, you're starting from a false premise.

00:34:27   It is convenient to work at home,

00:34:29   but I'm not exactly sure that I really like

00:34:31   working from home, which is one of the reasons

00:34:34   So I very often go out into the city to just work from random places, or I go to the co-working

00:34:41   space that I pay money to rent.

00:34:44   So I very much like the ability to work from home, and there are certain things that are

00:34:50   just easier to do when you're working from home, because I now have a dedicated place

00:34:55   where I can have paperwork that I need to deal with, or I have all the equipment that

00:34:58   I'm familiar with around me.

00:35:00   I think I like working from places that are not my home much much better even though working from home is is very convenient

00:35:07   Although you're working from home, right? You're calling me from like your bedroom or something, aren't you?

00:35:11   Yeah, I don't have an office like my office is one corner of my bedroom

00:35:16   And that's you know

00:35:18   I hope to change that because I'm still living at home at the moment me and my girlfriend are saving to buy a place and

00:35:24   We're only looking for two bedroom places

00:35:27   Because I will turn one into a proper office. Yeah, you need an office at this point

00:35:31   Yeah, I need like a real office, but I just don't have one in the current house that I'm in

00:35:35   Mm-hmm, you know and I have a big sitting desk

00:35:39   It's a big glass desk and I'm in the same kind of thing as you like I'm like I'm every couple of days

00:35:43   I'm like, I really want to just set the desk up the way I want it to be and I just don't know

00:35:47   But I like I the other day I cleared some stuff off of the desk

00:35:50   So it's got more space on it

00:35:52   but I have in my mind this amazing setup

00:35:55   that will make me a thousand times more productive.

00:35:58   - It won't.

00:36:00   - Oh, but it will, Greg, I've planned it all out.

00:36:02   But I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

00:36:06   And I pay for a co-working space,

00:36:09   but don't go there enough.

00:36:11   And that is something that is always in my mind

00:36:14   that I need to do.

00:36:15   But I feel chained to my home

00:36:19   because this is where my equipment is to record.

00:36:21   So it's all about me trying to manage my time better.

00:36:24   So there are days where I'm not recording

00:36:26   so I can actually go and do it.

00:36:28   Because as well, my coworking space is an hour from my home.

00:36:31   - No, you'll never go there.

00:36:34   - I do sometimes, I don't go there enough.

00:36:36   I'm trying to go there more.

00:36:37   Like basically where I live, there is nothing.

00:36:39   There is no nothing.

00:36:40   Like, you know, I live in a, I wouldn't even,

00:36:43   it's probably more of a suburb, I guess,

00:36:45   but it's way out of London.

00:36:47   - Yeah, I don't even know where you are.

00:36:48   I just I know you're you're east you know like vaguely

00:36:50   Hundreds of miles east is the thing that I imagine like technically London, but not actually London

00:36:56   Yeah, because I think the eastern border of London goes all the way to the ocean as far as I can tell

00:37:01   Something like that yeah, you can see it from the top of the shard right it's like oh

00:37:06   Everything that we can see from here is London

00:37:09   That's that's the way that works

00:37:10   But like you know if the way to think about it if you know London is I live two stops away from the end of

00:37:16   the tube line

00:37:18   So that's far enough out of London, right? So there's nothing here. So I'm always traveling that kind of distance to get in.

00:37:24   It's a wasteland.

00:37:25   Yes, it's just my house.

00:37:28   Yeah, you just get off the underground and there's tumbleweeds and nothing around.

00:37:33   So, you know, I don't do that enough and I want to do it more because if I have something to work on,

00:37:43   I do way more work when I'm in my co-working space than what I do at home.

00:37:47   So you have one, two, three, four co-working spaces?

00:37:52   How many co-working spaces do you actually go to?

00:37:54   - I have one co-working space that I pay money to, right?

00:37:59   I have a bunch of places around London

00:38:02   that are little coffee shops or other corners

00:38:05   that I've found that I like to go to work in,

00:38:07   but they're not official office places.

00:38:10   But there is an office block that is pretty near me

00:38:14   that has a floor basically that they rent out as co-working space to a whole bunch of people

00:38:20   and so I pay them like a monthly membership fee to be able to have access to that space

00:38:25   and I have to travel an entire 10 minutes from my house to get to that co-working space.

00:38:33   Yeah you see I know that if I was that close I would be there more because I could just go there

00:38:37   for a couple of hours if I want to go to my co-working space I'm there for the whole day

00:38:41   because it takes me, you know, I'm like traveling for two hours, like, you know,

00:38:45   there and back an hour each way. So I know if I'm going to go to the

00:38:48   co-working space, that is my day as a co-working space.

00:38:50   Right. So that's what makes it a bit bigger of a hurdle for me to actually go

00:38:54   in with. Like there isn't even any coffee shops or anything that I could work in

00:38:58   where I live. Right, because we've established there's nothing where you

00:39:01   live. It's just barren wasteland. Just barren wasteland.

00:39:04   My wife and I do have a bit of a joke sometimes, which is kind of terrible, but

00:39:08   We talk about how when you get out to those stopped at the end of the underground lines,

00:39:14   that it reminds us of Firefly and the Outer Rim planets. This is always just the way that it feels

00:39:20   of like, "Oh, where have we gone? It somehow feels way empty here." Which of course is ludicrous

00:39:26   because the whole country is so dense compared to many other places, but when you live in the

00:39:33   the center and then you go out to the edge it can feel weirdly empty even

00:39:38   though it isn't by any kind of objective standard but our our slang reference to

00:39:44   basically anything beyond like zone 2 is like oh it's all just the outer rim

00:39:48   planets right that's all that's the whole rest of suburban London is the

00:39:52   outer rim. I mean anybody who lives in any kind of suburban environment just

00:39:58   walking to places is very much not an option I'm just aware that as you get

00:40:03   further out from the center of the city, if you want to go

00:40:07   anywhere, you really need a car and I used to teach in a

00:40:11   school that was pretty outer rim and I was always just aware

00:40:15   of how endlessly long those suburban streets are and and

00:40:18   they just feel like, oh, there's nothing, there's nothing

00:40:20   here except endless, endless rows of houses. There's nowhere

00:40:24   to go. So, you you have to have a car or you have to be near a

00:40:29   transportation point to be able to get anywhere else and like

00:40:33   The advantage of that is you get to live in a huge place.

00:40:36   You don't get to live in, as I did for many years,

00:40:38   a place with a door, right?

00:40:40   Like that's the trade-off, the further out you go.

00:40:43   - We have like eight or nine doors in this house.

00:40:45   There's doors everywhere.

00:40:46   Like I sometimes open doors, there's more doors.

00:40:48   You can't move for doors, you know?

00:40:51   - Yeah, so we don't have any nested doors.

00:40:53   There's no door that you can open in our place now,

00:40:55   which leads to other doors.

00:40:57   That's just non-existent.

00:40:59   But that's the trade-off.

00:41:00   I have always really liked being able to walk around in the center of the city,

00:41:04   but there are, like everything in life, there are big trade-offs and costs for that.

00:41:08   And one of those is that I have to accept that I end up living in a much, much smaller place

00:41:14   than I could otherwise.

00:41:16   Like, I could have had a home office for years if we were living further out,

00:41:20   but we made the decision that, no, we want to live more centrally,

00:41:23   and so then you have to live in a smaller place.

00:41:25   But it didn't matter to me, like I said,

00:41:27   because I like to go around and work at a bunch of different places. I find that a very enjoyable experience.

00:41:33   Is your coworking space very business-y or is it hipster like mine?

00:41:39   My coworking space, there are no hipsters there. My coworking space is full of business people.

00:41:46   And I kind of wonder what they're up to, but it's a strange environment because...

00:41:52   What are you doing?

00:41:54   Well, yeah, how to describe this.

00:41:58   So basically there's this floor which is sort of open plan that I have access to.

00:42:05   And above and below us are regular office floors in the sense like some company has bought a floor of the building, right?

00:42:15   So they have all their employees on that floor.

00:42:19   But the co-working space is also like a shared area for all of the other office people in the building.

00:42:28   And so it's very often like I'm just sitting down in the co-working space and like these herds of people with ties and briefcases come in and you know they're talking about all of their business stuff.

00:42:40   And it's strange because there's this very clear divide between the people who are the co-working people like me and

00:42:47   the business people and the way that these tribes are

00:42:51   visually distinguished from each other is whether or not people are wearing ties. So

00:42:56   everybody who's wearing a tie, it's like, "Oh, okay

00:43:00   you're not one of the free-range monkeys like me, right? You are like a caged creature."

00:43:07   You're a battery monkey. Yeah, you are you are you are a cage monkey you have to go back into a particular spot upstairs

00:43:14   and the way we mark this is that you have a tie and

00:43:17   I don't know. It's just a strange overlap sometimes between these these different groups of people but I

00:43:24   Like the co-working space it's very convenient for me

00:43:28   But I often feel like I overhear these these businessy conversations and often think like I don't have any idea

00:43:33   What the heck these people are talking about they're always talking to like

00:43:36   in these very abstract ways about quarterly reports and just like stuff that I don't even

00:43:42   know what you're saying. None of this sounds like concrete, you know, "Oh, we're shipping a product

00:43:48   to a certain number of people." It's all just like spreadsheets and things. So I don't actually often

00:43:54   go to the co-working space when there are other people around. I used to, when it was less busy,

00:44:02   go during the day, but for the most part now I actually pretty much exclusively go to my

00:44:08   co-working space on the weekends and at night. Because then there's nobody else around and I

00:44:14   like that much better. That is much preferred for me to not have other people around.

00:44:17   I went to my co-working space on like the day two days before Christmas and it was the best time I

00:44:25   ever spent there. Yeah, all of these other people they do nothing but kind of get in the way or they

00:44:30   or they just make it harder to work if they're around.

00:44:33   It's much nicer when you have an entire floor of a building

00:44:37   all to yourself.

00:44:37   That's the way I prefer to work.

00:44:39   - In your coworking space is where lives

00:44:42   the redundant bag system is what I call it.

00:44:47   And I'm sure you have a better name for it.

00:44:49   This is where you have a bunch of stuff

00:44:52   that is there constantly.

00:44:54   Like one of your fleet of iPads, I think lives there.

00:44:57   A computer lives there.

00:44:59   Do you have a name for this stuff?

00:45:00   I think you have like everything there, don't you?

00:45:02   Like a recording equipment, the whole shebang.

00:45:05   - The redundant bags live in my home office

00:45:07   because I always grab them in the morning.

00:45:08   But I do have a like a little redundant office

00:45:12   that is in the coworking space.

00:45:13   So luckily the coworking space has these little cubes

00:45:16   that you can rent and I just have a cube that is mined

00:45:20   and I have a key to.

00:45:21   - So it's like a little cubby.

00:45:22   - Yeah, it's like a little cubby.

00:45:23   And yeah, a cube makes it sound luxurious.

00:45:26   Like I have a cubicle, but that's not the case.

00:45:29   No, it's just a little cubby.

00:45:30   And in there, yes, I have everything

00:45:33   that I would need to theoretically get

00:45:35   just about everything done.

00:45:37   So that's where I keep my MacBook Pro.

00:45:41   I keep one of my older iPads.

00:45:43   I do have some older recording equipment in there

00:45:46   so that if I need to record something,

00:45:47   I can do it from the coworking space.

00:45:49   I like to have that mirrored setup,

00:45:53   because this, again, goes back to the idea

00:45:56   of eliminating friction.

00:45:58   And sometimes I will go out into the city just to like run some errands, or maybe I'm just taking a walk or something.

00:46:05   Because kind of everything that I need in my daily life is in a very small radius from where I live.

00:46:13   Like, the supermarket's nearby, I have a bunch of nice parks to walk to that are nearby,

00:46:19   and I have a few regular places I like to go that are nearby, the gym is nearby,

00:46:24   and also the co-working space is nearby.

00:46:27   So it is not unusual where if I'm out just taking a walk, I can suddenly feel like, "You know what? I'm in the mood to get a particular kind of thing done."

00:46:36   And then if the coworking space is nearby, I can just walk right to there and have everything ready to go.

00:46:44   I don't have to think, "Oh, let me go back home to get my bag to then go out to then work."

00:46:50   No, I don't want to do that. I want to be able to just walk into the co-working space and be able to sit down and just get started on something if I feel like I'm in the mood to do that.

00:47:00   That happens pretty regularly, and so that's why I like to keep all of the redundant equipment there.

00:47:05   It's just to have that as an additional space that I'm not having to bring equipment to.

00:47:11   Like, if I had to physically bring equipment there, it would reduce the number of times that I would ever really want to go.

00:47:18   So I'm just trying to make things easier for myself.

00:47:20   It's smart because it allows you to just walk in.

00:47:23   That's exactly right. I want to be able to walk in

00:47:26   just off the street and and get to work.

00:47:29   I'd be like, "Oh, I forgot to bring my laptop charger," right? That kind of thing

00:47:33   I hate. I hate missing some small piece of vital equipment that then just throws off the rest of your day.

00:47:38   It's like, "Oh, I gotta go back home to get the laptop charger, and then I have to come back to this place."

00:47:42   And by that time you feel like, "Eh, the thing that I wanted to do the moment has passed."

00:47:46   It's not gonna happen.

00:47:48   I feel like this highlights something that I think is going to be a central theme that we're gonna see running through a lot of these

00:47:54   Is that you value your time and convenience way more than money

00:47:58   And I don't mean that to be a joke because I do too

00:48:03   I will spend more money than people think should be spent on something if I feel like it's going to

00:48:09   Give me more time or reduce aggravation in my life

00:48:13   Yeah, broadly, I guess I'm trying to how to phrase this.

00:48:17   Well, like to have the two bags, like all the things that you've mentioned, you have to have another two sets of headphones, right?

00:48:23   Right. Where you could just have the one that you just pick up and put in the bag, but if you forget it

00:48:27   that's annoying. So let's buy another two.

00:48:29   You're having the two £50 notes, right?

00:48:32   You could just keep £50 in your wallet, but instead you put it in the bag.

00:48:36   So it's like it's not that you're like you have a ticker tape parade where you're throwing money out of

00:48:40   of like a convertible car down the streets of London.

00:48:43   - Yes.

00:48:44   - But it's that you make purchases that are purely

00:48:48   for reduction of aggravation.

00:48:52   - Yeah, I think that's fair to say

00:48:54   because I generally don't like things.

00:48:59   I don't spend a lot of money on things.

00:49:02   Like in my apartment, I just don't have very much stuff.

00:49:09   But the things that I find useful, I am very willing to spend more money on a smaller number of things.

00:49:18   It's like, I want a smaller number of things, but those smaller number of things to be of higher quality.

00:49:25   And in some sense, the redundancy is a kind of quality.

00:49:31   That from my perspective, it's almost like iPad is a service.

00:49:36   And wherever I need iPad, iPad just is.

00:49:39   and that kind of mental release of not having to think,

00:49:44   where is my iPad?

00:49:45   Oh, did I leave it on my desk?

00:49:47   Let me go find it and put it in my bag.

00:49:49   Or did I leave my iPad at the office?

00:49:51   No, I never want to think that.

00:49:53   I just, when I'm ready to work,

00:49:55   I want something at hand immediately to be available.

00:49:59   - This week's episode of Cortex

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00:52:23   So you work in coffee shops, right, which we've mentioned in like little places, little

00:52:28   public spaces and stuff that you work in.

00:52:30   I think I heard you mention once that you work in the British Library sometimes?

00:52:35   I used to work in the British Library when it was a bit more convenient.

00:52:39   But there are a bunch of locations that are like that around London that I frequently

00:52:44   work.

00:52:45   So why do you choose to work in those places rather than your co-working space?

00:52:49   I mean, they have a lot of the same problems as people around being distracting, that kind

00:52:53   of stuff.

00:52:54   And you're also paying for the co-working space.

00:52:57   So why do you go to places in that sort of scenario?

00:53:00   Because that feels like you're kind of wasting money.

00:53:03   Mm-hmm.

00:53:04   Well, okay, so the two scenarios are during the day, if I am not staying at home to do work,

00:53:12   I will go out to a bunch of different locations to write scripts, basically.

00:53:18   And the reason why the people at, say, a cafe don't bother me as much as, say,

00:53:25   the people at the co-working space, is I find the people at a cafe are kind of easier to

00:53:31   ignore. There's no unity of purpose at a cafe, and also you're not going to run into the same

00:53:41   people over and over by going to the same cafes to work at, or the same other locations around the

00:53:48   city to work at. There's like a random crowd of essentially faceless anonymous people who are

00:53:55   around you, whereas the problem that I have with the co-working space is like, "Oh, if I'm here

00:54:00   or two frequently during the day, I start to recognize some of you, and this is just,

00:54:05   this is not something that I really want to deal with. So that's part of the reason why

00:54:08   I like working out and around in the city, is the anonymity of it is almost a kind of

00:54:15   privacy. It's just like, "Oh, nobody here cares about what I'm doing, and I don't really

00:54:20   care about what any of these people are doing." So we can all happily ignore each other while

00:54:24   we're sitting at our various tables.

00:54:27   So that's one thing that is very beneficial.

00:54:31   And then the second thing is what I mentioned before

00:54:33   is I don't know why, but I'm very aware

00:54:36   that there's like a little clock that counts down

00:54:39   in my head from about an hour and a half

00:54:41   to two hours of a burst of work.

00:54:45   So if I'm sitting down and I get like a good hour

00:54:48   and a half worth of work done,

00:54:50   even if I'm using like music to try to distract

00:54:53   part of my brain, at that point in time, I start to get a little bit fidgety and it starts

00:55:00   to become harder to kind of focus on whatever I'm doing.

00:55:04   And I've learned that the best way to get over that is usually to take like a 20 minute

00:55:09   walk.

00:55:10   And so that's why I tend to kind of hop from place to place in the city is I've gone somewhere,

00:55:17   I work for an hour and a half, I can feel my brain getting fidgety, I'm having a little

00:55:21   bit of a hard time focusing on whatever I'm doing. So I'm going to get up, I'm

00:55:25   going to go to a different location, and then after that 20-minute walk I find it

00:55:30   much more easy to sit down and once again kind of concentrate on what it is

00:55:36   that I want to do. So that's another reason why I like going out to different

00:55:40   places to work is the motion and the change of environment I find facilitates

00:55:46   certain kinds of getting things done.

00:55:49   What's your favorite place to work? Do you have one?

00:55:52   You don't have to give me a location so like you know you don't have people camping there.

00:55:55   That's exactly, well yeah I'm not gonna...

00:55:57   221 Baker Street.

00:55:58   Yeah.

00:56:00   I've been a bit vague because there are definitely places that I would not want to say out loud

00:56:04   because I feel like no I've found these little places over years and years in the city.

00:56:08   I'm not giving up various good locations that I like to work.

00:56:13   Will you tell me them if like I pretend to ignore you when I'm there?

00:56:17   No I won't tell you them no.

00:56:19   I guess what I could more say is that I have little routes that I quite like where there are enough places

00:56:25   that I'm going to stop along the way.

00:56:29   And one of the routes, which is easy enough to talk about, is the South Bank of London is

00:56:34   I found enough places along that stretch on the river

00:56:39   where I can stop that aren't too crowded normally and I can kind of have a nice little walk down the river and

00:56:47   Know that there are locations that are evenly spaced that I can stop when I want to so that that's like a that's like a little

00:56:53   route that I use

00:56:55   fairly frequently what a great part of London like

00:56:58   Just one of the very best it has the best views it has the best bridges like

00:57:03   Some of the most fantastic buildings and culture and places to eat and drink. It's south the South Bank is

00:57:09   Fantastic. Oh of course

00:57:11   That's one of the reasons why I was originally just walking around there because I liked it

00:57:15   And I eventually kind of figured out a few places to stop that were convenient. And so now it's you know

00:57:22   It's hard to say how often I do it, but that's that is a fairly

00:57:27   regular go-to place for oh, I want to get some work done and

00:57:31   Let me let me just go walking along here for the afternoon for example

00:57:36   And I feel like this has kind of been implied today, but like I wanted to ask it

00:57:40   Do you think that for you personally being in different places affects your productivity in different ways?

00:57:46   Yeah, it does. It does. I think one of the...

00:57:50   To turn it around for a moment, one of the reasons that I

00:57:54   would say that I don't like working at home is I'm aware that this is probably one of the places where I am least

00:58:01   effective at actually working. Because the home is an environment where you do all kinds of stuff and

00:58:08   And it's very easy to get a bit derailed if you're just staying in the same location all

00:58:14   day.

00:58:15   And that location is also where you live.

00:58:18   And so it's the same place where you relax at night.

00:58:21   Like, oh, the main room of the house that I walk through to get lunch or whatever, this

00:58:25   is where in the evening I will sit on the couch and watch television.

00:58:28   It's like it's the wrong kind of mental environment sometimes for getting work done.

00:58:35   feels less serious to my brain somehow as opposed to like, oh, I'm out and about, or I've gone to the

00:58:41   co-working space and now brain, we need to get serious about this. Whereas when I'm home all day,

00:58:47   it's like, well, I'll be home all day on a weekend, not necessarily working. So it doesn't,

00:58:53   I feel like it's very beneficial to have sharp dividing lines between things, particularly when

00:59:01   when you're self-employed, particularly when you don't

00:59:04   naturally have those self-dividing lines.

00:59:06   And that's why working at home, while it is extremely useful

00:59:10   to me to have a home office, I'm aware

00:59:13   that in terms of productive output per hour,

00:59:19   it's probably one of the less effective places for me

00:59:22   to work.

00:59:23   But it is always available.

00:59:24   So there's trade-offs.

00:59:26   There's trade-offs all the time with these things.

00:59:28   I'll tell you, if I can go on a slight diversion.

00:59:32   - Yes.

00:59:33   - I'll tell you something about how

00:59:35   when I first started making the YouTube videos,

00:59:37   I was extremely lucky with Place.

00:59:41   So in that first apartment, which had a door,

00:59:46   it was not really practical for me to be working a lot

00:59:51   in the main area of our house, because it was everything.

00:59:56   It was the kitchen, it was the bedroom,

00:59:58   it was the main area, and I did have a little desk that was set up that I could work at,

01:00:03   but this is back when I was still working as a teacher, and then, you know, if my wife

01:00:06   would be home in the evenings, like, it just, it was not a great space to be trying to work.

01:00:13   And this is where a lot of my first habit of wandering around the city probably really,

01:00:19   really took hold, was like, I have to go out somewhere if I'm trying to work.

01:00:24   But I eventually discovered that I had access in that building to this kind of terrifying

01:00:32   basement space that was below the building but yet still kind of exposed to the elements

01:00:40   through broken windows and had a boiler in there that was loud and the room was filled

01:00:46   with dust and spiders and all kinds of disgusting stuff, but it was an additional space that

01:00:53   I could get access to that absolutely nobody else would want to go to.

01:00:58   Not by that description anyway. Oh, the spider room! Yes, please let me work in there.

01:01:05   Yeah. So during the winter it would be freezing cold and during the summer it would be terribly,

01:01:10   terribly hot. But in the year and a half when I was really trying, when I was putting all

01:01:17   in on trying to make YouTube work as a business, having access to that little space made a

01:01:25   huge difference to me because I would take at that point my very first iPad, the Retina

01:01:34   iPad down there with a little keyboard and I could do this thing which I do all

01:01:41   the time which is talk the scripts out loud and work on them. That's one of the

01:01:46   most effective things that I can do when I'm when I'm actually working is to talk

01:01:49   out loud what I'm going to say in the video and make changes and like keep

01:01:53   going back and back and forth and keep saying the script out loud over and over

01:01:57   again and making little changes.

01:01:58   Yeah. So it's obviously not something that I could do in a cafe. It's not something I

01:02:02   can do when people are around. But having that little basement space was a spot

01:02:07   that I could go to and very very regularly in the evenings after dinner,

01:02:12   which happens to be a very useful time for me work-wise, I would go down to the

01:02:18   spider basement and work. And that space ended up, I would say probably is one of

01:02:26   the most productive spaces that I've ever worked in. Even though it was

01:02:31   horrible, like it was not set up to be a place to work, that actually kind of worked in its

01:02:37   favor because I never wanted to be there any longer than was absolutely necessary.

01:02:43   And so I think that this also really contributed to the association in my brain of, you know,

01:02:52   we're downstairs in the basement and now it is time to work because we're not going back upstairs

01:02:57   to our comfy house until you get enough of, you know, until you get through enough drafts

01:03:01   of this video that you feel satisfied with it.

01:03:05   And so I think there are ways in which working environments can actually be too comfortable.

01:03:13   Like having an office that is too nice can actually be a disincentive to work.

01:03:21   You don't want to have stuff that is extremely 100% comfortable all the time.

01:03:27   And I think that the cafes in a way replicate this a little bit, because you can never quite

01:03:33   get a cafe to be set up just the way you want, right?

01:03:36   Oh, the chair is always a little bit off, you know, or the table isn't quite right,

01:03:40   or you're sitting in a spot that you don't necessarily like perfectly.

01:03:43   And when you go there, like, you don't even know if you're going to be able to have a

01:03:47   place to sit.

01:03:48   Yeah, yeah.

01:03:50   There are all of these little things that make the environment slightly uncomfortable,

01:03:55   but I feel like that can actually be conducive in a way to working.

01:04:00   Whereas I'm aware that my house, while I do love it, it's almost too comfortable.

01:04:05   Everything is just the way I like, and that's one of the reasons why I often work somewhere

01:04:11   else.

01:04:12   Now for things like the podcasting, like doing the podcasting from home, this is a kind of

01:04:15   convenience that I wouldn't have been able to do without having a home office.

01:04:20   So there's some kinds of things that obviously it's way better to have a

01:04:23   home office, but I still do a large part of my writing elsewhere, not at home.

01:04:30   One of the reasons why I go to the co-working space on weekends and during

01:04:35   the evenings is precisely because there's nobody around and so this is a

01:04:39   perfect time to be able to do that thing where I talk the scripts out loud, where

01:04:44   where I can walk around in this kind of big open area

01:04:48   and talk out loud like a crazy person,

01:04:50   and there's nobody there to bother me.

01:04:52   And again, that is a very, very productive time for me.

01:04:58   Even though, to answer your question,

01:04:59   it seems a bit redundant to both work around the city

01:05:03   and to also have the co-working space,

01:05:06   I use the co-working space in a very different way

01:05:09   than I do cafes or my home office, even.

01:05:12   So having access to that space, to be able to kind of like,

01:05:17   it's much nicer than the basement,

01:05:20   but be able to replicate this, okay, it is in the evening

01:05:23   and I want to go somewhere and just be able

01:05:24   to talk out loud for a while effect.

01:05:27   That's one of the reasons why I keep

01:05:29   the coworking space around.

01:05:30   And that's one of the reasons why I use it.

01:05:32   - Did you ever work in an office?

01:05:34   - Oh, you mean like a grownup office?

01:05:37   - Like an office with like desks of people and.

01:05:41   - I see these offices.

01:05:42   I see these big open planned offices on some of my walks

01:05:48   and some of the places that I go.

01:05:50   And they don't look very nice.

01:05:53   I have never worked in one of these offices.

01:05:55   And when we talked last time about why

01:05:59   I wanted to be a teacher, I always

01:06:02   knew that an office environment was not the environment for me.

01:06:09   I've never had any kind of job.

01:06:11   even my student jobs or anything that were stereotypical office jobs.

01:06:15   I have tried very hard to avoid that and I have,

01:06:19   I have done so successfully so far in my life.

01:06:22   You would hate it.

01:06:24   Oh, I, I'm, I'm pretty sure I would. And it's funny, I was thinking about, um,

01:06:29   you know, the movie Office Space.

01:06:31   So I first saw Office Space in college at some point and the movie is ostensibly

01:06:41   comedy. And I remember thinking, "Oh, this is a very funny movie." But it also had

01:06:45   this little bit of a tinge of, like, a warning from the adult world of, you know,

01:06:51   "You don't really want to probably work in an environment like this." And every--I

01:06:56   don't know, every few years I watch Office Space again, and every time I watch it, as

01:07:00   I have gotten older, that movie has become less of a comedy and more of a

01:07:07   horror film of just, I don't laugh, I kind of, I kind of watch it just, just filled with horror.

01:07:14   And one of the things I'm really aware of is that if you look at the working environment and office

01:07:22   space, it's presented as this, this terrible, terrible working environment, because they're

01:07:27   all stuck in these, these horrible cubes. But in all of the offices that I can see into in London,

01:07:35   those cubes would seem like a massive luxury.

01:07:38   Most of the offices I see arrange people in these endless open rooms

01:07:44   with just computers on their desk sitting directly opposite someone else on a computer,

01:07:50   with someone on a computer on either side of them,

01:07:53   with half-size little walls if they're lucky, but very often they're just long tables

01:07:59   that, you know, 16 people are sitting at.

01:08:02   that they would beg, beg for cubes.

01:08:06   And that's why the office space thing,

01:08:09   that's the one thing I'm really aware of,

01:08:10   watching that movie.

01:08:11   It's like, okay, this movie is horrifying

01:08:13   as an adult to watch, but even since then,

01:08:16   it looks to me like things have really changed

01:08:19   in the office world.

01:08:20   I mean, did you have a cube?

01:08:21   I bet you didn't.

01:08:22   - No.

01:08:23   I wish I did.

01:08:24   One of the things that happened to us,

01:08:26   which this is one of the worst things,

01:08:28   we're like the marketing department, right?

01:08:29   So we were kind of a bit more relaxed

01:08:31   about the way that we worked, you know?

01:08:34   And, you know, we had music, we'd have a laugh, we'd joke around and stuff.

01:08:37   And at that time, there were banks of desks

01:08:40   that kind of set 12 people, six on each side.

01:08:42   We had a decent amount of room and they were OK.

01:08:45   Yeah, they were OK.

01:08:47   There wasn't great.

01:08:48   There was barely any meeting rooms.

01:08:50   And then one day we were told, oh,

01:08:53   there are people moving down from another floor,

01:08:55   so we have to move everybody around and, you know,

01:08:58   have to pack up all your stuff this weekend,

01:09:00   'cause when you come in on Monday,

01:09:01   there's gonna be a completely new seating set up,

01:09:03   that kind of thing.

01:09:04   So we came in on Monday,

01:09:06   and they'd moved us around to another part of the floor.

01:09:10   And they had increased our tables to banks of 16.

01:09:15   So eight people each side.

01:09:16   - But the table wasn't any bigger.

01:09:18   - It was a little bit bigger.

01:09:20   Only a little bit bigger.

01:09:22   - Okay, so they added like 10% more table

01:09:24   and 50% more people.

01:09:25   - The people that sat behind us,

01:09:27   that came down from the floor above,

01:09:29   They were the same size tables and they sat 10 aside.

01:09:32   And no computers anymore, everyone was hot desking

01:09:36   so you wouldn't even be guaranteed.

01:09:38   You didn't have enough, each team didn't have enough desks

01:09:41   to fit the team.

01:09:42   So sometimes if you were five minutes late,

01:09:44   you'd come in and there'd be no desk for you.

01:09:46   And you'd just be walking around the floor,

01:09:48   trying to find somewhere to sit.

01:09:50   But you'd have all your stuff in a locker

01:09:52   that was on the desk that you usually sat at, right?

01:09:55   So you'd have to be walking back and forwards

01:09:57   all day picking it up.

01:09:59   But the worst thing about it was the people that came down,

01:10:02   they were from a very stuffy department,

01:10:05   and they wore really smart suits,

01:10:07   and they were much older and more official,

01:10:10   and three levels of management above us.

01:10:13   So they kept making changes about the way

01:10:16   that we had to work,

01:10:16   and we weren't allowed to have our music on anymore,

01:10:19   and we had to be more quiet.

01:10:21   We weren't allowed to swear as much as we did,

01:10:24   and they took all of our meeting rooms away.

01:10:26   And it's like I don't ever again want to be in an environment where

01:10:30   the my working environment can be changed by external factors like that.

01:10:37   Like someone can make a decision and all of a sudden we're all crammed up and they don't have a desk anymore.

01:10:42   This is always like the thing with working for a company versus working for yourself and there are trade-offs in both of these.

01:10:49   But that is one of the biggest trade-offs is that other people

01:10:54   can make decisions that radically change your daily experience when you're working for another company.

01:11:01   And that kind of thing of "Oh, we're going to change your physical environment in a way to make it much less pleasant"

01:11:11   is extremely, extremely frustrating to deal with.

01:11:15   And I just can't imagine how that has been for lots of workers,

01:11:21   seeing as I do inside these offices, the shape of them change and more people getting crammed into a space is just...

01:11:31   I don't know. It's...

01:11:33   I tried very hard to avoid that and I have been lucky enough to avoid that in my life so far.

01:11:42   Surely you would think you're less productive under the new circumstances.

01:11:46   Oh definitely, but you know then they try and back that up with you've got to meet your objectives, you know.

01:11:52   Oh right, you have to meet your objectives.

01:11:54   You have to meet your objectives, so you might be less productive but you have your objectives to meet.

01:11:58   Who sets your objectives out of interest?

01:12:00   What do you mean for uh for grey industries who sets my objectives?

01:12:05   Yeah we should have a quarterly review, me and you. I could give you a good quarterly review,

01:12:10   we could we could establish your performance rating. What do you think about that?

01:12:14   I would resist that. I would resist that. We can talk about deadlines and objectives at another point maybe, but there is nobody else setting my deadlines or objectives.

01:12:27   I do not have any more meetings where we can talk about how good of an employee I have been like I did when I was teaching. Those were always fun, having someone come in and evaluate you. It's like, oh god.

01:12:39   So Mr. Grey, I've come to the end of my questions for today.

01:12:46   Okay.

01:12:47   Shall we tell people how they can send us in their feedback and questions?

01:12:51   You know, if people want to find out why you have caffeine pills, or if they want to try

01:12:57   and find out your favourite haunts in the South Bank Centre, there's a couple of places

01:13:02   that they can get in touch with us.

01:13:04   The best ones, Twitter and Reddit.

01:13:07   So you can go to the Reddit page. Can you tell people where that is again?

01:13:11   The Reddit page for me is the number one source for feedback.

01:13:14   Because not only can you leave long comments, which are sometimes very nice,

01:13:19   but other people can decide how useful your comments actually are by voting them up and down.

01:13:24   So the Reddit is by far and away for me the number one place for people to leave feedback.

01:13:28   And so you can go to reddit.com/r/CGPgray and there will be a discussion link for this

01:13:39   episode of Cortex.

01:13:42   And you can also, on Twitter you can find us both.

01:13:45   Gray is @CGPgray and I am @imike, I M Y K E.

01:13:50   And don't forget our hashtag that we have, #askgray, where you can ask us questions and

01:13:55   and send in feedback and follow up and stuff.

01:13:57   For a future episode, I expect there to be

01:14:00   lots of follow up on next week's episode

01:14:03   for these current two that we have recorded so far.

01:14:05   I'm looking forward to digging into some of that.

01:14:08   - Yes, because we are recording this one actually,

01:14:10   what, like 35 minutes before you're about to put

01:14:14   the first one up live?

01:14:16   - Yeah, I don't wanna talk about that.

01:14:17   (both laughing)

01:14:20   I'm in a state of nausea right now.

01:14:22   - Yeah.

01:14:23   I'm worried if we talk about it too much I'll ruin my microphone.

01:14:26   Yeah, but so yes, this episode will actually not be going up for a week or so.

01:14:31   So these two have been done in advance and then the third one is when we'll finally be able to go over some feedback and things.

01:14:39   But yes, we need to end the conversation now because you need to put the first show live!

01:14:44   [BEEP]