Tanlines In The Shape Of A MacBook Air17 Apr 2012
I hate the beach.
There. I said it. Go fire up your torches, raise up your pitchforks, brandish your SPF 70 and batter down the door of my sandcastle, for I have writ the inconceivable and must be consumed by fire.
Overly dramatic? Perhaps; however, it's a far cry more tame than the courtesies my friends and family extend whenever I choose to sit inside and work (or, as they know it, "play on the computer") instead of going down to the beach and sitting in the sun. I can't help it: I've stopped liking the beach. I can't seem to enjoy wrenching myself away from the work that I love and want to do to sit in an uncomfortable, aluminum-plastic excuse for a lounge, cover myself in oily, glistening, ineffective protection and get sand on, and in, absolutely everything. I'm not bashing it: The beach just isn't my thing.
With that said, the crux of this article rests on the following fact: I love vacationing on the beach.
I can hear the cacophony of a million eyebrows furrowing in unison. Settle down, kids. I'm about to explain myself. Using words.
Creativity vs. Comfort: A Graph-Themed Section
I spend every weekday from 9:00AM to around 7:00PM in a cubicle in a dark, windowless office in a two-story building on an arsenal in a city suffering from metro-envy. During that time, I create incredible things. I draw, I sketch, I think, I write, I code, I design, and I love it; however, it's all too familiar to me. As a creative, I must be able to shrug off the congruencies of every day, and I do, day-in and day-out. Just imagine for a second what kind of creative surge would occur if I were given a window. Now, replace a stagnant, deciduous backdrop with something more exotic—something more akin to this:
Now, it can be hard to imagine such a surge, especially if you aren't a creative, but let me tell you: It's phenomenal. It's one of those, "I should quit my job and use my savings to buy a condo on the beach. I'd be so productive that I could freelance and be completely financially secure. Additionally, I could wake up every morning to a cold mimosa, start every lunch with a cold Corona, and end every day with a tall margarita. It would be perfect!" At that point, I jerk my head off the table, wipe the drool off the corner of my mouth, and get back to work.
I've found I get especially creative in one of two scenarios: In an altered environment (like the beach) and in an altered mood (excited, scared, depressed, et cetera). Out of those two scenarios, altering my environment is the only one that I have absolute control over, and it's the only one I recommend you to actively seek. It doesn't have to be as extreme as getting a high-rise condo on the beach, either. Something as simple as picking up your laptop and working outside on a nice day or putting your computer in another room or against another wall can really do wonders for creative blocks (or just supercharge an already solid creative streak).
The only problem with piggybacking a vacation to get shit done is that the people you're vacationing with, surprisingly enough, don't much care for it.
Balancing The Three Fs: Friends, Fun and Froductivity
It really is a balancing act, and I haven't really figured out how to do this. (As a matter of fact, I'm getting frustrated texts from my girlfriend, Maggie, asking when I'm going to be down to the beach as I write this.) As the vacation has progressed, I have noticed the following, which may be helpful to keep in mind come future vacations:
- Use downtime as work-time. About an hour or two before dinner and an hour or two after dinner, there's always a lot of unplanned, unfocused activity going on: People are taking showers or watching television or checking Facebook—basically unwinding from the action-packed day. Since there's no singular group activity, these few hours have offered me a good, family-friendly time to get shit done.
- Let people know you'll be working, but promise to spend time with them afterward. This morning, I told everyone that I wanted to write an article for my website, but afterward I was coming down to the beach. This excited everyone, since they've usually had to drag me down to the beach. They then got ready without making a big deal about me doing my antisocial thing and headed down to the beach, giving me a solid hour of work-time during the day.
- Work while people sleep. If you can nightowl, get to it. I worked late last night, knowing that everyone would be sleeping in until 10:00AM or later. I spent a few hours finishing up some things I'd been messing with during the day without any distractions, and I still got a full night's sleep. I just didn't get any of that sweet, sweet bonus sleep. I resent everyone for that.
- If possible, plan "workcations" with likeminded colleagues. The most prohibitive aspect of a vacation is time, followed thereafter by money. I've considered getting a group of friends together, going somewhere secluded and distraction free, and spending three to five days creating. The group would help offset the cost, and the fact that things were getting done would help offset the time. Seems like a win-win (except for the people who would want to go but wouldn't want to participate in the "nerdfest").
Again, this is a very living document, but it is something I've found to be mostly true and is based completely on my trial-and-error experiences. The error parts involved a lot of fussing.
I don't really mind the beach.
Although my coworkers will take one look at my pearlescent skin and refuse to believe there has ever existed a sun, let alone that I was at a beach for five days, I have had a great time. I've been able to use the vacation in a way that's appealing to me by making a few compromises to make sure my time spent in front of a screen isn't completely detested by the majority of my traveling party. Once this goes live, I'll be heading down to the beach (business management book in tow, natch) to sit next to my friends, plunge my feet into the hot sand, and "relax."
I'm not sure where my next vacation will take me, but I know that I will be working during it and enjoying the extreme surge of creativity and productivity that the change in environment will foster. I'll also, more than likely, be apologizing profusely to Maggie for ruining Bonnaroo for her.