Why I Work At The Dining Room Table

Sometimes the biggest productivity tricks are the ones you didn’t even know you’ve implemented. They are the ones that tend to grow, as if by themselves, while you strive to figure out what works best for you. There are several tactics that I’ve implemented intentionally; I am going to start talking about some of my favorites in the next few Techie Scheky posts, but I wanted to share a recent best practice that I’ve only become aware of in hindsight.

My family recently moved to Brooklyn, as my daughter was living under the stairwell in our living room in Manhattan and we no longer felt like this was ideal. Thankfully, she now has her own room, but with the move, I ended up losing one of the more valuable spaces I had, a desk to write at. In lieu of a desk, I’ve gone through the process of trying a variety of new working spaces. The bed, the couch, the hammock, but lately I find that I’ve settled into one of the most productive rhythms of my life at our dining room table while sitting in our uncomfortable, rickety chair.

Regardless of what I am working on, the kitchen table is cleaned off every night. Things can’t pile up because we just ate there and plan to eat there again the next morning. The added benefit of knowing my wife will kill me if I leave a mess keeps me from creating the clutter that usually accumulates with a desk. At first it seemed odd that I was continually gravitating towards this spot, but when you really think about it, it has all of the benefits of desk1, with none of the downsides2.

It forces me to focus on what I’m doing and to carefully choose what I bring to the table3. Sure, there are those who can keep a desk tidy; I am not one of those people. Given a space to call my own, I will set it up perfectly the first time, but it will be in ruins less than 24 hours later. It isn’t a matter of laziness or bad habit4, it is simply my nature to create clutter.

It has been my experience that the things we need to get things done are often just the excuses that keep us from accomplishing anything at all. Did the desk in our old apartment give me a defined workspace? Absolutely. However, it also provided an astounding assortment of distractions that often kept me from what was important. At a glance, the dining room “desk” may seem like an inconvenient solution, but it has been the best possible thing for keeping me focused on my writing.

You don’t need a desk to be creative. You don’t need a place to think to find your thoughts. You just need a chair and perhaps a flat surface where you can sit and do whatever it takes to make things happen.

So next time you feel like the clutter on your desk is overwhelming and decide that it is time to reorganize, take a second to question if you really need the desk at all.

  1. Read: A flat surface to work on.  

  2. The ability to let clutter amass.  

  3. Because I am only going to have to clean it up afterward.  

  4. He lied to himself.  

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