Jump to content

Creating an Environment Where You Will Read A Lot/Increase Your Productivity


BG2008
 Share

Recommended Posts

So my fund business has grown a bit lately and I have been thinking about what's the highest return on incremental dollar.  One of the things that stands out in the last few years is that I am not as effective working from home versus a purposely dedicated office space.  There's been a lot written/said about Buffet/Munger and other respected value investors who simply read non-stop.  I want to create an environment where it fosters this non-stop voracious reading habit.  I am currently in the market for a 10 ft by 15 ft office with a large window.  The question is how would you layout this space to create an environment that would foster non-stop reading and deep thinking. 

 

Any suggestions that includes: 

- furniture

- lighting

- noise cancelling headphones

- reading chairs

- TV monitors best fit for reading news, filings, etc

- Dry Erase Board for strategizing, war room style boards to show vertical integration of businesses

- General Setups etc 

 

would be greatly appreciated. 

Room_Layout.pptx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With the window at your back you'll have a lot of glare on the monitor.  Place your computer facing out at the window.

 

If you mainly read here's what I'd do:

 

Buy an iPad Pro and get a keyboard.  With this you can create presentations if you need, and you can surf the web.  But you can also pull down annual reports and filings.  This is your entire library.

 

Buy a cheap desk from Ikea and a chair for when you need to type substantial amounts.  Do this on a desk with correct posture.

 

Otherwise buy a comfy chair or couch to sit on.

 

Hang relaxing artwork.

 

You should easily be able to get work done via an iPad if you're just the reading type value investor.  If you need a Bloomberg or CapIQ buy a Surface Pro instead of an iPad and proceed the same way.

 

What's the issue with home?  Is it too loud?  Is it that you're home?

 

I work from home, here's what I've found.  If I'm struggling to remain focused there is a reason.  Either the work is boring or intimidating, or I'm not sure where to start.  So I take a break and go do something that helps me think, run, walk, rake leaves, something.  I think about my problem and develop a strategy, then go and work.

 

When I was in offices I did the forced work thing.  I would feel bad for not having my butt in a seat for a prescribed amount of hours so I'd force myself to do something.  This means I was a master of taking two hours to do a 15m task.  Now without that barrier I can spend 45m thinking about the task and doing it in 15m and then working the next hour.

 

Obviously if your home is loud you need some place quiet.  I've learned to deal with loudness, I have three boys (fourth on the way) at home and they're rarely quiet.  I tune it out, it's just white noise.  My boys know if my office door is open they're welcome to come in and talk.  If it's closed I'm on a call or need it to be quiet.  They are good with this.  Here and there one will come busting up the stairs excited to tell me something and blast through a closed door, but it's extremely rare.  The other thing is kids are in school most of the day.  Our house went from being loud to almost silent on school days.  I've never been in an office building as quiet as my house during a school day.

 

I think the biggest determinant to working from home is personality.  I am the type of person who will get things done if no one tells me, I have a very strong internal motivator.  If there is work it won't finish itself, so I will work on it.  Not everyone is like this.

 

I've also found that setting a hard stop time is important.  At a specified time I walk away for the day, work is over.  The office is four steps from the bedroom, but I consider my work done.  Sometimes I'll work once the family is asleep again, but I've been trying to cut that back/out.

 

Regarding deep thinking.  I don't think you can do this in an office.  You need to get out and walk.  It seems to me that the best thinking is done when your body is engaged in an activity that requires little thought.  Your motor center is distracted, and your thinking center is free to think.  This is why people have great ideas in the shower or on walks.  I'd recommend taking walks or something similar.

 

One last though: if you need noise cancelling headphones you're at the wrong spot.  I've worked in open offices, and semi-open offices where I was wearing headphones hours on end.  Eventually the headphones hurt my ears, or my ears would get hot and sweaty.  Other times I'd get bored with the same music or same radio.  It was a drag.  Now I can listen to music if I want, or keep it silent if I want.  Headphones are not a good long term strategy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to create an environment where it fosters this non-stop voracious reading habit.

 

I think the environment will have much less impact than building good habits. As Oddball said, if you are not being productive, there is usually a reason.

 

If you want to read, one option is to print everything. Then just keep a big stack beside your favourite reading chair. If you read on your phone, tablet, or computer, there are too many distractions.

 

The other thing, it is impossible to read everything. Filter aggressively.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems to me that the best thinking is done when your body is engaged in an activity that requires little thought.  Your motor center is distracted, and your thinking center is free to think. 

Wow. Could not agree more and appreciate how you were able to express it so well. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is important to clarify one key thing.  I live/work in the Queens, NY where space is very expensive.  I suspect that many on this board live/work in an area where real estate doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  For me, the reason to get an office is that I don't have that extra room in the house.  I live/work in a large one bedroom (900 sqft) where the living room and office space co-exist.  I am thinking of paying extra for an office literally to create a special purpose "reading room."  It's a place with books, reports, and a monitor for reading.  Buy a nice comfortable reading chair (still trying to figure that one out).  In short, the purpose of being in this office (reading room) is to sit down for hours and read and think.  Personality wise, I'm the type that works best in a library.  Even small movements in the same room tends to distract me.  This is why I tend to do my best work after 10PM when the rest of the world has gone to bed and there is no distraction from e-mail, phones, spouse etc.     

 

The large window will help to regulate the body clock.  So it maybe a distraction for others, but it's vital for me.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is important to clarify one key thing.  I live/work in the Queens, NY where space is very expensive.  I suspect that many on this board live/work in an area where real estate doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  For me, the reason to get an office is that I don't have that extra room in the house.  I live/work in a large one bedroom (900 sqft) where the living room and office space co-exist.  I am thinking of paying extra for an office literally to create a special purpose "reading room."  It's a place with books, reports, and a monitor for reading.  Buy a nice comfortable reading chair (still trying to figure that one out).  In short, the purpose of being in this office (reading room) is to sit down for hours and read and think.  Personality wise, I'm the type that works best in a library.  Even small movements in the same room tends to distract me.  This is why I tend to do my best work after 10PM when the rest of the world has gone to bed and there is no distraction from e-mail, phones, spouse etc.     

 

The large window will help to regulate the body clock.  So it maybe a distraction for others, but it's vital for me. 

 

Maybe you have your answer.  Is there a college library that's open late?  Spend the day doing what you want, then go to the library and steal the comfy chairs at night for a few hours.

 

Another option is a co-working space.  In Pittsburgh you can get a private office at one of these places for $350/mo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is important to clarify one key thing.  I live/work in the Queens, NY where space is very expensive.  I suspect that many on this board live/work in an area where real estate doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  For me, the reason to get an office is that I don't have that extra room in the house.  I live/work in a large one bedroom (900 sqft) where the living room and office space co-exist.  I am thinking of paying extra for an office literally to create a special purpose "reading room."  It's a place with books, reports, and a monitor for reading.  Buy a nice comfortable reading chair (still trying to figure that one out).  In short, the purpose of being in this office (reading room) is to sit down for hours and read and think.  Personality wise, I'm the type that works best in a library.  Even small movements in the same room tends to distract me.  This is why I tend to do my best work after 10PM when the rest of the world has gone to bed and there is no distraction from e-mail, phones, spouse etc.     

 

The large window will help to regulate the body clock.  So it maybe a distraction for others, but it's vital for me. 

 

Maybe you have your answer.  Is there a college library that's open late?  Spend the day doing what you want, then go to the library and steal the comfy chairs at night for a few hours.

 

Another option is a co-working space.  In Pittsburgh you can get a private office at one of these places for $350/mo.

 

Oddball,

 

Great suggestions regarding the college library.  I just realized that Queens college offers a program where you can get 6 month access for $50.  It is quiet with large open space for studying.  It is located about 2-3 miles from my apartment.  This will give me a walking workout in.  It truly is the best option.  I'm glad that I didn't take that space.  I signed up on the spot for the library access.  Getting out of the apartment and walking will greatly help with my sleep patterns which tends to get out of whack when you work from home everyday.  All in all, this is a great deal and thanks for suggesting the library option.  Coincidentally, I looked into local public libraries and they tend to be loud and attract homeless people.   

 

I did go out and buy a Bose QC35 headphone which I have already started to listen to conference call while I'm walking and taking subways.  When living in NYC, you lose time by sitting in subway cars going from one place to another.  I have found the QC35 to do an incredible job at lowering the decibel and allowing me to concentrate.  I'm the kind of guy who needs library type quietness to concentrate. 

 

Dinner on me the next time we see each other because you just saved me a bunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post Oddball!

 

Some of this is dependent on the person.  I also like to walk and get ideas.  I think it gets the blood moving to help the brain think.  NYC would be too many noises and distractions for me.

 

One thing I really love to do is take an annual or some reading and go outside to read.  No phone, no computer just the annual.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's funny, we just rescued a dog (Malamute/Sheppard mix), so now we have 2 rescues and the walks more than doubled. This guy needs a bit more exercise than the first one (beagle mix).

 

I realized recently that walking is where I think the best also. I've long read all the same books, blogs and websites most of us here have been but until now I just read it and for the most part forget it. I couldn't tell you what I read 5 minutes ago.

Now I'm making the conscious effort to understand what I read and the walks have helped a lot.

 

I love the University library idea but we're not anywhere near a uni anymore. I used to be a 15 minute subway ride to the University of Toronto and I used to walk around the campus when I lived there. I never once made use of any of the facilities.

 

Letter to my younger self..............

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you limited to living/working only in NYC?  It strikes me that you could probably buy a nice little house up state for a modest cost and downsize your footprint in NYC. In fact, the Adirondacks are beautiful and quiet, and there's a train going regularly from Albany or Schenectady to Penn Station...

 

Yes, this can't be negotiated.  Both families are here.  We like being around our extended family.  Keep in mind that I don't live in Manhattan.  I live in Forest Hills, NY.  There actually is a forest out here about 1.5 miles away.  At times, I would go on my walking trip which would total 6-7 miles and take 2 hours.  It does wonders to clear my mind and help me catch up on conference call and what not.  There are time when i just want to think and contemplate.  Forest Hills truly is the best place in NYC if you want to be a start up manager.  It's a 20 min subway ride into Manhattan, you're near a forest, an university library, an expressways that can get you access to Long Island and the suburbs. 

 

I do own a car.  Can you suggest a few places in the Adirondacks that I can Airbnb?  I've thought about a getaway weekends for myself for a couple people that I respect to just get away and think deeply and strategically. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you limited to living/working only in NYC?  It strikes me that you could probably buy a nice little house up state for a modest cost and downsize your footprint in NYC. In fact, the Adirondacks are beautiful and quiet, and there's a train going regularly from Albany or Schenectady to Penn Station...

 

Yes, this can't be negotiated.  Both families are here.  We like being around our extended family.  Keep in mind that I don't live in Manhattan.  I live in Forest Hills, NY.  There actually is a forest out here about 1.5 miles away.  At times, I would go on my walking trip which would total 6-7 miles and take 2 hours.  It does wonders to clear my mind and help me catch up on conference call and what not.  There are time when i just want to think and contemplate.  Forest Hills truly is the best place in NYC if you want to be a start up manager.  It's a 20 min subway ride into Manhattan, you're near a forest, an university library, an expressways that can get you access to Long Island and the suburbs. 

 

I do own a car.  Can you suggest a few places in the Adirondacks that I can Airbnb?  I've thought about a getaway weekends for myself for a couple people that I respect to just get away and think deeply and strategically.

 

 

I am a hiker, so I spend a fair bit of time in the High Peaks.  So, if you like quaint towns, that could include Lake Placid or Saranac Lake.  If you like to be a little farther from civilization, then there are places like Tupper Lake or Long Lake.

 

From all of those locations, you can access some gnarly hiking or some serious solitude, depending on your preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.rcwilley.com/Furniture/Living-Room/Chairs/Recliners/Leather/3485277/Dark-Truffle-Brown-Leather-Power-Recliner---Runway-Collection-View.jsp

 

Love this chair for reading, I'm a very lean rock climber and things are always falling asleep when sitting until I found this.

 

Its very comfy and has a high back to support your head so everything can relax. I wish it was heated, that would be perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest cherzeca

I like walking also.  It lets some of my ideas stew together.  I am not sure if I could do it NYC as there would be too many distractions for me.

 

Packer

 

i do my best thinking walking/hiking, and during a long hot shower.

 

as for reading, i have two sitting spaces:  one by a tv where i watch cnbc with volume low, and one for document review.  these are very different spaces for different types of reading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...