The importance of a desk




A year ago this August, my girlfriend and I moved into our second place together. At our first place, I purchased us two very plain white tables from IKEA that we used as our L shaped shared office, and it worked out pretty well since we both use laptops as our primary machines and they don’t take up very much space. Once we moved into the new place (which is much nicer and fits the both of us better) I never got around to setting our workspace back up.

Instead, I confiscated the dining room area to use as my man space. On one end, proudly displayed are my turntables (Technics 1200 MKII’s + Rane SL57 + Serato, naturally) and on the other end I salvaged a friends TV stand and book shelf to use as my video game station. The space is awesome, it’s filled with toys and goodies, but I haven’t had much time since the move to actually use any of it.

Leading up to the point of this story… I’ve gone almost 1 calendar year without a desk at my home office, and it’s been a pretty bizarre experience. Using a laptop as my main (and only) development machine for the past 7 years or so, I’ve formed some bad habits like working from the couch, working from bed, and wanting to take my work with me everywhere I go.

These habits, are probably bad. I’d recommend avoiding them at most costs, if possible.

There’s something to be said for being able to work anywhere you want to… being able to lay down under a blanket, turn on some music, and get comfy on the couch with a good night of programming has been something I’ve taught myself to look forward to. But, it also makes me look and feel pretty retarded when the real world watches me, because what’s really happening is desecration of sacred relaxation space with the presence of work… all the time… everywhere I go.

So in the corner of our bedroom has sat one of those old tables I got from IKEA so long ago, having been converted from a respectable desk into an elevated clothes hamper for shirts and pants that just aren’t dirty enough to actually make it into the hamper itself, but still need a place to say to the world “I have been worn at least one time since I’ve been removed from the closet.” Jess was out-of-town no more than 3 hours by the time I decided to start nesting my work area again.

Couldn’t be happier so far.

Having a desk, if you don’t have one, makes work feel like a place where you can sit down to get stuff done, and then disconnect from it when you’re not there. I know it sounds really silly to say out loud, and probably even more silly to read since it’s such an obvious necessity in life, but it’s true at least for me. The past few days I’ve probably been more productive with my time than I have in a long while, both in part because my work space inspires my brain to click into ‘work mode’ and because I’m able to keep work where it belongs, and use the couch for what it’s really for… Napping.

I think especially when you work from home, being in a “work space” means people will more than likely not interrupt you when you’re working because you’re not just lounging on the couch or in a cushy chair trying to not glance over at reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. Not that I was sad when George died or anything… Just saying…

So, if you don’t have a desk, and you work from home, you should spend the $50 and buy a table from IKEA and set yourself a nice little spot in a corner somewhere. I think you’ll be glad you did.

I also think my next project is tricking out my desk with a rad external monitor swing-arm, and finding a nice iPhone and iPad charging dock to keep things nice and tidy.


7 responses to “The importance of a desk”

  1. Good call, John. As someone finally making the transition into working from home full time, I couldn’t agree more that there’s something crucial about having a dedicated work space. Something you can walk away from at the end of the day and not think about anymore (at least not too much!). Also: get your self a good chair. I dropped a couple bills on a comfy one with lotsa lumbar support, and my back is grateful every day.

    1. I have chair envy thanks to Mark Jaquith and his Herman Miller “Embody.” I think a nice chair will be on my list of this years investments, and chiropractors everywhere would approve of our mutual appreciation of spinal health. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I’m using a $45 desktop from IKEA placed atop of two filing cabinets as my desk. It’s amazing to have six and a half feet of space!

  3. I’ve never been able to work without a table and a chair — or at the very least at least one of them.

    Any position involving a bed without a table means that I fall asleep within 15 minutes.

    This also means that I’m chained to my desk, and that specific corner of the room throughout the day ๐Ÿ™‚ .

  4. Best advice I ever read was get a $100 desk and a $700 chair. ๐Ÿ˜€ Your butt will thank you.

    Seriously, though. For years we just got cheap chairs and finally we just bit the bullet and got a decent one. Sheer absolute heaven.

    And the workspace – YES. Maybe it’s because we have all these kids running around (or, well, we did…) but since Ron has been a freelancer for many years off and on, we almost always had a separate work area. Preferably a room that you can leave. Though a corner of a room works too. ๐Ÿ˜€

    (I have a fancy schmacy large L-shaped desk with the cabinet bit on one side. No Ikea near here for hundreds of miles.)

  5. Matt Barta Avatar
    Matt Barta

    I think thats what I enjoy most about having an office at work… To expand on that I also don’t have a key to said work so once the day is over I’m literally kicked out. Now this doesn’t stop me from taking calls or emails from clients once I leave the office. Thats just being a good rep. Especially to my clients in Hawaii who are half way through their workday when I’m eating dinner.
    Very nicely written, friend. I like this a lot. Very nice.

  6. filing cabinets should be made from metals and other recycleable materials. avoid buying plastic filing cabinets .””