Why you might need a second desk

Michael St. Pierre — №11 with Gretchen Rubin

A priest friend of mine told me once that he found it hard to pray in his own church. “It’s as if someone is watching you,” he said, “and it’s common for parishioners to interrupt your prayer time with a question or concern.” That’s when he decided he needed to find a secondary location for his prayer time. He chose a small chapel nearby where he could retreat and spend time alone with God. It worked perfectly. This became his secondary “desk” or place to do spiritual work, otherwise known as prayer.

While I’m not a minister, I do know what it’s like to find it difficult to work at my desk. Take today for example, my lunch-break didn’t come until 3pm and even when I had a warmed tupperware container on my desk, I still couldn’t fend off the interruptions that arrived. These included:

Granted, it’s up to me to carve out the time to really crank and get my work done. No one to blame but myself but still, work at my own desk can be difficult. Kind of like my friend, Kevin, at his church. In my case, my warmed up lasagna quickly turned into a cold item that had to be reheated later. Not ideal.

That’s why everyone needs a second desk. My friend’s second desk is a small chapel. My second desk is a conference table where I find some of my most creative work is accomplished. It’s only five feet from my first desk but what magic comes from that short distance. I try to spend the first hour of my day there before the interruptions come, and they always do.

I think that everyone can benefit from a second desk. That’s why people have theatre rooms in their homes. They want to get away and enjoy some quality time but they want to do it away from the high-traffic area of their living room.

It probably also explains why people have both home and work offices. The primary is vital but the secondary space might be just as valuable because it’s often there that true creativity occurs. So how do you make the idea of a second desk into a reality? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Evaluate your current space. If room allows, can you add a standing desk or bistro-sized table for a secondary work place? Be creative.

  2. Give yourself permission to rotate during the day. Some organizations are so bottom-line driven that they really don’t care where you work during the day. You may be able to rotate between 2—3 different spaces during the day within your building.

  3. Consider another location entirely. This may be an extra bedroom in your home or an office space that you can rent. The modest financial investment could pay off very quickly for your productivity.

There’s never been a better time than now to establish a second desk. It might only be five feet from your first desk but what a difference that short distance can make!

Photo: Corepics / Shutterstock

Mike st pierre

Michael St. Pierre

Michael St. Pierre is President of Morris Catholic High School in Denville, NJ. He is the editor of The Daily Saint productivity blog and podcast.

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