Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a few people ask about the space I use to do (the majority of) my work.
Warning – this is gonna get geeky.
I work from home. Our house has two master bedrooms – one of which we (and be ‘we,’ I mean ‘my wife’) converted into this office.
Since I deal with relatively little paper, I’m able to keep the actual desktop clear, and I try to do the same with files on my Mac’s desktop as well. If I’m not vigilant, clutter can take over my life, so I have to actively guard against it. I try to sort or trash all the files on my desktop at least every other day, though between cleanings it serves as a general repository for works-in-progress.
In November, I purchased the new 13″ MacBook Air with 4gig of RAM and the 256gig SSD – it’s super-fast and super-light and simply super. My wife got my 15″ MacBook Pro, and I was terribly afraid I miss the processing power when editing audio or doing a screencast or working in Photoshop. I don’t miss it at all. The battery life on this little wonder can get me through a day of writing and emailing and thinking. It’s the best, most delightful machine I’ve ever owned (save for the Commodore 64).
When sitting at my desk (Herman Miller Aeron Chair that Dee found on Craigslist), I have the Air tethered to an Apple 24″ LED Cinema Display. I actually don’t mind the screen size of the Air – I utilize Spaces to virtually work through four different desktops – but it’s great when I sit here. I’ll typically keep the todo list (Toodledo – cloud-based made into a desktop app using Fluid) open on the Air screen throughout the day.
I use the wireless little bluetooth keyboard and one of the new trackpads for navigation. It works for me – even though my wishlist contains the Matias Keyboard that sounds like a thunderstorm as you type. It’s probably the closest I could get to the old Apple Extended II keyboard of my dreams.
Since I produce a few radio ads a month, I run my audio signal through a Digidesign Mbox Mini. It’s a simple box that does everything I need. I used to have a mixer, too, but I found the only thing I was bringing into the machine via analog were vocals (through the dbx 286A under the Apple display), so I ditched the mixer and run the mic pre/processor straight into the Mbox. I use ProTools LE to edit radio ads. I’ve purchased a few plugins over the years, but I think most radio ad production is done with the script, so I don’t rely on too many effects. I purchase any music and sound effects I need online.
I monitor audio through Tapco S-5s that work just fine. New monitors are also on my someday-maybe list, but it’s not a big priority. I also make sure to listen to radio ads through the worst speaker I have to ensure they sound clear in both good and bad. I mostly listen to music (Pandora One – also as a desktop app through Fluid) through Bose QC2 headphones.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a must when working from home. This is my second pair of Bose, and they’re great both at home and on airplanes. When workshifting to a coffeeshop, I leave them at home in favor of some Bose earbuds with an in-line mic that works with my phone and the Macbook Air.
I backup using Time Machine to some non-descript USB drive, and I have 2TB worth of archive material on the bookshelf to the right of my desk. I don’t use the stuff very often, but when I do, I stretch a USB cord across. I do miss Firewire 800 from the MacBook Pro.
I keep a Sennheiser MD 421 II on my desk to use for Skype conversations. I run it through the dbx when I’m not cutting vocals. For vocals, I have a Shure KSM32 large diaphragm condenser mic in the back corner of my office. I use something called, literally, The Mic Thing for acoustic treatment.
So, that’s pretty much it … I keep notes from phone calls, Skype stuff and other things in Evernote, or I use (and keep with me on the road) a small soft-cover notebook to jot down click moments and weird thoughts and overhead, out-of-context mutterings.
What would I improve in my space?
I’m very happy with this setup, and I try at least once a week to get out of the house to work at a coffeeshop and surround myself with kinetic energy. We also have about a bajillion comfy spaces around the house to curl up and think and write and dream.
I do have a few hundred books boxed up that I can’t wait to get back up onto shelves. Maybe in the next My Space …
So … any questions? I’ve also been asked to cover workflow and the software I use, so I’ll be doing that soon as well.
How about you?
What’s your dream setup? How close are you to getting it?
Also, if you’re interested in this kinda stuff, I recommend these three blogs:
I believe you have to like where you work to do your best work. These three resources have been constant wellsprings of inspiration for me. I hope you like them.