An Ode to the Humble Desk

Most mornings begin the same way, waking up from a deep sleep to no alarm, rolling over and peeking outside to see if it’s still raining. One by one the to-do list enters the mind, from what to eat for breakfast to what kind of work to tackle that day. One decision will determine the fate of the day however – who gets the desk? The elevator pitches begin.

It’s not the physical desk itself we’re after – it’s a semi-comfy chair, a large monitor (thanks Jack), the easy access to tools, and most importantly of all – the allure of a productive day. From the hours of 9 to 5, the second bedroom suddenly becomes a private office, the closing of the door signaling to all that “I’m on a call.” There is even a private bathroom, the true mark of upper management. When it’s “Desk Day”, the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. Pay bills? Check. Research? Check. Invoices? Check. Even the lunch hour is just that – one hour. Time is precious on Desk Day. On Desk Day, you’re organized, you’re motivated, you’re productive. You’re Dr. Jekyll.

If the odds are not in your favor and you don’t win the Desk Day lotto, the day is up in the air. The pros and cons are the same double-edged sword. The ease of a laptop with a long battery life allows you mobility around the apartment. But nowhere, be it kitchen counter or couch, iscomfortable so you’re constantly moving about. It’s like being a lower tier member of a shared workspace, you have access to the snacks but no office. But access to snacks means you eat – constantly. As you move around the apartment, you mentally convince yourself you are on a break and a break constitutes a snack. It’s only logical.

Something happens when you work outside the confines of the office, a transformation of sorts. You’re constantly slightly uncomfortable so you pace a lot, trying to find the [non-existent] sweet spot. You feel the pressure to be productive, so you start projects, emphasis on the plural. You split your time between eight different activities in a vain attempt to convince yourself that busy time is productive time. You run yourself ragged chasing rabbit holes and honing ideas. You attempt to rationalize your madness to the well-kempt Desk Person, but you just end up like Charlie Day trying to explain the Pepe Silvie conspiracy. You become Mr. Hyde.

More often than not, Mark is Jekyll. He has a “real” job complete with corporate email and client meetings. Me on the other hand, I’m learning to tame Hyde. Despite the multi-step process, I’ve managed to jimmy an office space together. The lighting is lacking, the monitor is small, the chair could be more comfortable, but office sweet office, right? The set-up and take down process is becoming a nice routine, something to blindly tackle after my morning coffee, and is a nice separation from work and play. Practice must make perfect with this routine, because this morning the sixth and final step was completed right as the kettle went off. My desk is ready, my tea is ready, let’s do this.