The Real Thing

Yesterday a friend lent me an old, large monitor, so I didn’t have to squint when I looked at my small laptop.

I got it set up in my home office, and suddenly my entire work experience changed.

First of all, seeing everything BIG and BOLD made my work feel different. “If my ideas are this BIG,” part of me seemed to say, “then they must be important. And I should work on them.”

Then I breezed through a labor-intensive task I’d been putting off for months. All this time, I thought I was lazy and undisciplined, when the real problem was that my small screen was hard on my eyes.

Surprise! Turns out I don’t suck, after all!

I’m really interested in this intersection between how we perceive ourselves, and what’s really going on. It happens all the time with workspaces and ergonomics. For instance, you might see a pile of paper and think, “I’m such a disorganized person,” when the real problem is that you don’t have an filing system that works for you. Or you might put off working on your Great American Novel, and all the while, you’re thinking you have bad focus. But really your chair is subtly giving you leg cramps.

Of course there is a place in life for discipline, and for carrying on even when things are uncomfortable. But why not make things easier on ourselves when we can?

What’s really going on is not always what we think is going on . . . even with ourselves.

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