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My Workspace, My work processes

I wrote this post after reading Helen’s post and taking a long detour by Casey Niestat’s videos on his Wildly Functional Studio. I admit: I smiled a lot.

Instead of using all the real estate on Helen’s blog, I’ll try to take another habit of responding on my blog.

In a word, I’m somewhere halfway between Helen’s father, Casey and her. I like how she used a comparison with both to introduce her view at the end. The comparison was also used as a compass on where to head next. I was tempted to try the exercise as well.

Peace and Letting Go

So as opposed to Casey, I have absolutely no weapons around me. I’m not interested in what my neighbors are doing. For me, his setup is more of an obsessive type. He wants to keep everything under check, under control: His tools, his body, what his co-workers are listening to or not.

I’m more a peace guy. My weapons are empathy, sharing, and knowledge. I’m more open to serendipity, I cultivate letting go. I try to admit I’m not in control of many things and I don’t try to find remedies to everything by adding more control. I concentrate on acting were I can do a difference.

I like to use my hands

I’m very similar to Casey in that I love to do things myself. I’m staying in a house, I repaired and organized myself. Walls, masonry, water, electricity, wood floor: I did it all. Still it’s an old house, made of mud and stones. Nothing is straight and you can’t turn it into something perfect. One has to do with imperfection. So the place is a great constant lesson against the temptation of perfection. From time to time, I would stand up, get the drilling machine and add a new shelf, a curtain.

I work from the kitchen, the nicest room, south oriented, giving right on the garden. Starting April, the door is often wide open. Occasionaly random cats or birds would get in. There are plenty of computers and electronic monitoring devices, but it’s for temperature, wind and humidity of the plants I grow. Like Casey, I also have a punching bag to keep moving during winter and be warmer. Add to it a Yoga mat ready for some Surya Namaskar between two twitter chats.

I love tinkering. I have tons of tools, the same ones, but I never took the time to set up a proper workshop: It’s a big mess of boxes. I can’t help but feel some envy when I watched his workshop with all the tools neatly organized with their positions delineated. Alas, this will not be for this life. I’m too busy: I have other priorities.

Special mention for Helen’s father. I love to do oil painting and the room next to my sleeping room is embarrassed with all the paints, brushes, easels and blank canevasses. I also love to cook, prepare complex recipes and prepare basic ingredients. For this, I keep a large assortment of spices, ustensils.

My priority is Knowledge

That’s where my time, focus, and attention go. Sadly days are only 24 hours long. I measured my time during 2014 with a small simplified app I wrote (tinkering again). In January, I analyzed the results and I was surprised to realize that I spend about 6 hours a day learning. It takes various forms: reading books, blogs, news, and chatting. Some of this learning effort is instantly constructive: Like when it’s mixed with collaborations, encounters, co-creation or immediate application. It took me to April to admit that this was my new life and I shouldn’t change it back.

I learned a lot in 18 months. A year ago, Kneaver was a web 2.0 application in PHP. Today it’s a single page web app, responsive, with a back end in NodeJS, scaleable and running in the cloud. 18 months ago I knew nothing and nobody in KM, L&D or Social Marketing. Today I host a weekly twitter chat, I write regularly, I wrote a new business plan, I have a network of interesting peers with whom I exchange on a daily basis. My process is Iterative, Agile with Continuous Deployement.

Learning and applying is the equivalent of organizing and delineating tools in one’s mind. A constant learning and using effort has a proved return on investment: It keeps our practice fresh and up-to-date. I use my tools (Kneaver) to track what I learned, find the best place for each new learning. I will keep track of who I met, in which domain we share interests. I will keep links to posts and what I learned from them. I will link people to posts, posts to topics, and topics to concepts. Everything in its place. I understand very well his idea of keeping related stuff together as a way to find them back faster and to restore a complete context at once. That’s also like this that I envision the use of Kneaver. Being very tidy and careful helps me learn more, retain more but above all apply more. I’m focused on putting this knowledge to work. Because of this activity of constantly linking existing stuff to old one and discovering new links, I’m honing my craft and I can apply new learnings faster.

My wildly functional brain

My conclusion is that I spend time tweaking and enhancing my practices, my mental toolset, and the result is just the same as Casey’s studio. When I compare with Helen, I spent maybe more time retaining my other faculties painting, tinkering, cooking and it shows off around me. I’m surrounded with my constructions, paintings, plants. I’m also working to reconcile my body and my brain by practicing regular exercise and Yoga. It took me a while to understand that it’s not two different bodies but really just the same and it can’t be divided. My brain is engaged when I practice yoga, my belly is involved while programming web pages, my back is a critical component of my knowledge work (fact!), and my knowledge is used for eating.

What is missing is the camera. A way to explore how I work, why I do this or that. I should expose more of my working style, my processes so that others could take a look and possibly comment. I saw some videos “Watch me code”, I could try something like that. So No, Helen, I don’t work out loud yet but I will do my best to start doing so.

Instead of monitoring anxiously what immediate neighbors are doing, let’s share openly and with trust our processes with tweeps on the other side of the earth. That’s what I understood of #WOL at this stage. I look forward for the 3 #PKMChat Twitter chats on this topic to touch the treamill (via Geraldine’s Post, I read while editing this one).

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