Working where you live means – on occasion – you need to change up your routine to keep from going stale.
Most days, I can be found in my home office.Â I love my office space.Â It has gets natural light morning and afternoon, and the windows look out over trees and sidewalks, so I can see people – and the ever-present squirrels – passing by, and feel like a part of the world without actually having to leave my work.Â I have two work-levels, with plenty of room to spread out, if I’m working on the laptop, or a manuscrpt, or something that needs the larger monitor.Â Â And if occasionally a siren or heavy truck wails past… well, I live in NYC, after all.Â It becomes white noise, after a while.
Sometimes, cabin fever overtakes me, though.Â The beloved walls close in, I can’t focus, and it’s far too easy to think “I’ll just do X, instead,” or wander into the kitchen and start cooking something, or spend too much time playing/cuddling with the cats.
That’s when I head for the alterna-office.Â Or, as other people call it, the New York Public Library.
Yeah – some people go to Starbucks.Â But when you’re serious about needing to focus, the quiet rooms in the NYPL*, where they provide you with light, air, a table, and an outlet – and an occasionally iffy internet connection you should not rely on – can’t be beat.Â It’s got a definite “do your homework” vibe… but there’s also the sense of Deep Research, of a community of scholars, however amateur some of us may be.Â Unlike Starbucks, there is a feeling that you come here, not to while away an hour or so, but to spend the day.Â Pack a lunch.Â Get in deep.
And then there are days….
Like today.Â I am so very very tired – after a five day run of 8+ hour workdays – of being at my desk.Â And yet… the walls are comfortable, and I know I’ll be out and about later this week, so I have no need to escape.Â I am working on things that require only the laptop, not manuscripts or the larger monitor.Â And that is why I have moved to my third desk…aka “the sofa.”
No, it is not my desk because it’s the sofa – a chair or another desk would do as well, so long as I had my work in front of me, ready to go.Â It’s my third desk because it is across the space from my office, because it looks out different windows, has a different scene.Â Without leaving home,** I am still able to shake up the pattern, disrupt the rut, so my brain has to keep up.Â A brain that’s working is a brain that’s creating.
And that’s why I have three desks.Â Because stale is no way to work.
*I go either to my local branch, or the main building, in Manhattan
** or the cats.