I removed the computer

My family had its first computer 20 years ago. Each day I would come back from school to spend hours on it. When I turned eighteen I bought my first computer. I installed it on my desk where I usually did homeworks, and since that time a computer has always been on my desk. I coded, wrote, recorded podcasts, read, played... It didn't change during my art school years, as I had a dedicated desk to paint at school. Once I graduated, I basically stopped painting because I was fed up with art. I started many projects that were exclusively made on a computer and had a lot of fun. I thought it would be this way forever.

But one day, it changed.

Sitting at as desk never bothered me that much. It was a position where I could watch a movie, play video games or write, and feel comfortable. Five years ago I went from working in a shop, standing all day, to being a web developer, sitting all day. From this moment onward sitting at a desk felt like a work position. It wasn't a problem when I was doing productive hobbies like recording, writing or coding, but it became harder to play video games, and impossible to watch a movie or a show. Due to chronicle occipital neuralgia I can't be in a relaxed position while sitting at a desk, I need to sit straight.

The desire to draw and paint also came back and with it, the constant frustration of not having a dedicated space for these activities. Mixing electronics and art furniture (ink, water, giant sheets of paper) is a bad idea when you are as clumsy as I am. Cables from peripherals are on the way. When I lean to draw the screen is in my face. You can't have both in the same space unless you have a giant desk.

And there's this procrastination problem. When I don't feel like doing anything, I sit at my desk, and I use it. I refresh my feeds, I launch programs, I mindlessly seek something that could free me from this anxious state I'm in. Of course it never works and I sometimes leave the desk frustrated. I had free time and did nothing, I didn't even relax is a common feeling.

So today I removed the computer from my desk. It is now in the living room, under the TV, with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. I plan to use a gamepad to play, in a relaxing position, all these games I accumulated. As I needed a way to write, code and record podcasts, I bought a Raspberry Pi and took several hours to create a setup that is both productive and limited. I can code, write and record (even if I still have sound issues). But being a 32bit ARM computer, I can't install Slack, Discord, Steam or anything else. The only source of distraction is the browser and it can barely run a 1080p video and navigate the web without struggling.

I hid the Raspberry Pi behind the screen, who now floats above the desk thanks to an arm support. Most importantly, it can be moved out to the side in a few seconds to regain the full depth of the desk. I installed my pencils, brushes and notebooks and hope that, in the future, if I feel the need to procrastinate, I will do it with paper instead.

Changing a 16 year old habit isn't easy. I don't know if that will work. I fear that the Raspberry Pi might be too limited for some of my projects, but using a more powerful computer brings the risk of more distraction. We'll see how it works.

Initially published: November 26th, 2020
Generated: March 13th, 2022