Comfort Correlates with Productivity

Like most modellers, my facilities in which my modelling takes place is not perfect. I am not complaining because I have most of a dedicated room in my basement which is much better than many have to make do with. I can leave a project out with minimal chance of disturbance. The lesser imperfections can still take a subtle toll.

Some of my space’s shortcomings are:

  • Bare concrete floor.
  • Space also serves as storage for non-hobby items.
  • Unfinished ceiling with fluorescent lighting.

I recently realized that I was cutting my modelling sessions short when my feet got cold during the winter months. An early career as a paperboy in small town Ontario gave me a healthy dislike of cold feet. Once I realized the correlation I made myself buy a dedicated pair of slippers for the train room.IMG_20180411_203131855

The slippers join the dedicated shop sweater in increasing my tolerance for the cool temperatures during the winter.

I previously invested in task lighting to help compensate for my farsightedness issues but I am finding that the additional light also makes me feel less like I am in a hole in the ground. I think that vague hiding in a hole feeling was also subconsciously curtailing the urge to continue.

I previously invested in an inexpensive new chair for the workbench. I had been getting by on with a chair with a broken back that functioned as a stool. Lower back pain is another disincentive to stick at things.

My point, if there is one, is that not everything that reduces your hobby productivity is a direct lack of funds, tools, materials, or space. Sometimes it is little things that nag and don’t stop you but subtly reduce you momentum. Perhaps the equivalent of a pair of slippers is what you need to keep you at it.

17 thoughts on “Comfort Correlates with Productivity”

  1. Terrific post, Mark.
    I think I’ve encountered all of the things you mention here – including cold feet and an uncomfortable chair. I hadn’t thought about how the lighting also addresses the cave-like atmosphere of most of our workshops but that’s bang-on, too.
    Thanks for sharing!
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64 / Niagara Electrics in 1:64)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Trevor. I always thought your upstairs office workbench was an ideal location, at least for lighting. For keeping dog noses and fur out of the business, not so much. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Very good. I got rid of a seat that gave me lower back and hip problems and now it is better. Luckily my workshop is in the furnace room so cold is not really an issue. Lighting is not an issue but the mess certainly is. I suffer from “Bright Shiny Object” syndrome which means too many projects at one time and a cluttered work area. I really try to spend some modelling time addressing that but usually get distracted by a project that should only take a little time to complete but of course never does.


    Andy Malette
    M.L.W. Services

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Andy,
      Having a sit down job collide with advancing years has made me appreciate ergonomics. I suspect many modellers are getting by sitting on what may be their most used modelling “tool”.

      On on the clutter front, I have previously mentioned my big cleanup but the battle is never really over, is it? My choice of Proto:48 is, in part, a built-in defense against bright shiny objects. Not that this doesn’t mean there aren’t a dozen jobs on the go but it could and has been worse.


  3. Great post Mark, you make some great points about comfort of our workspaces. With our upcoming move, I’m looking forward to creating a workspace that doesn’t have the compromises and limitations our current apartment forces on me. Considering comfort as an important factor in our hobby is something I’ve definitely seen been thinking about lately as I have been doodling sketches of the new workbench I’m going to be building to fit the train room in our new house come June. And now that you mention it, I really could use a new pair of slippers to replace the ratty worn out pair I wear around the place!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. A timely post. I too am lucky that I have a spare bedroom to model in; but my chair is an old kitchen one that I’ve put 2 pillows on for comfort. It’s still bad for my back, so I’ll now go and get something more proper. It makes sense to at least be comfortable.
    Cheers, Gord

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Warmth is not an issue since the basement is fully insulated but there is no ceiling over the railroad and the railway and work area also include space for a laundry tub, washer and dryer. In addition there is a table saw which has a temporary work bench on it for certain model assemblies while the more detailed stuff happens at a far too messy big desk. Yes, slippers are worn and I am fortunate to have a wood subfloor over the concrete covered in tiles plus a carpet in the layout area which is a godsend for the feet. Your article makes great sense and speaks to all work spaces in general where it has been proven that enhanced work spaces lead to greater productivity. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I also have a dedicated pair of slippers and 2 heavy fleece pullovers. This was a well thought out blog. Thank you



  7. I’ve never been a fan of a workbench in the basement and have always made a working space in a more salubrious part of the house. I designed and purpose-built a small workbench about 3′ deep x 4′ wide for the express purpose of modelbuilding, following practices of military and aircraft modellers. It has 1″ x 3″ vertical maple edges to catch straying parts, as well as a pieced of 1″ x 4″ laid flat at the rear in which a swing-arm lamp is mounted along with holes drilled through it to hold various tools, sanding sticks, etc. I’m a lot more comfortable modelling using this workbench than the jury-rigged office desks that I’d used in the past. Even with a small area of it available to me due to my own cluttering of most of the bench with miscellaneous stuff, having a purpose-built bench makes a difference to me in productivity. I’m still getting stuff done in spite of the clutter.

    I’d be even more productive if I wouldn’t keep piling unrelated stuff on this workbench, but that’s another story….

    Steve Lucas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the advantages of my basement location is that it is as far away as possible from anyone not currently engaged in model railroading who is looking to set something down. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Mark,

    Must agree with you about the items that make an unfinished basement a much more hospitable place. Like you I share my space with a washer, a dryer, a modelling desk, a computer station and my musical instruments all part of what I do. Lighting is important for all of them, too. I had a read through your blog and I must ask about your choice of modelling subject. I too grew up beside the CN mainline to Montreal. We lived on Eastwood Ave. and our house backed on the the tracks very near the beginning of the GECO Spur which of course fed the Comstock Yard. My Grandparents lived on Warden near St. Clair so I know the freight house/yard there very well. Sorry I did not have a camera back in the day. We moved north of the city in 1967 beside the Newmarket Sub another great place to watch trains in the late 60’s early 70’s.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Daniel,
      I have always liked switching operations and am trying to avoid barriers to implementation by choosing a familiar, “ordinary” subject. Stalling out on the logistics of exotic subjects has been an issue for me in the past.

      Since I married a Scarborough girl and ended up moving here for assorted reasons, the remains of the GECO spur are what I see on a regular basis.


  9. Mark,
    I agree and share all your points above. Another point is music. I find having my iTunes library playing while I’m working dulls the shiny object syndrome and increases my workbench time. I find radio annoying these days, and I have a larger playlist than the canned music stations available. Music soothes the savage breast and keeps the hands at the chosen task.


    1. Hi Roger,
      Excellent point. I hadn’t really considered audio as a comfort thing but of course it is.

      I am sure there are two kinds of people: music helps me concentrate people and music distracts me people. I am generally one of the latter although I do have a Bluetooth speaker set up in the shop so I can play music and podcasts when the mood moves me.

      Some activities almost require soothing music. Hanging model overhead wire is definitely one of them if only to cover the swearing. ๐Ÿ™‚


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