All-Inclusive Desk Getaways

We’re only partway through but this week in Cincinnati certainly feels like the first full week of beautiful spring/summer weather.  The sun is shining and the weather app predicts we’ll spend this week in the 80s.  There’s something about this first warm weather week that takes us back:  We walk around looking like adults, but inside we become anxious, restless kids waiting for the school bell to ring so we can go outside.  Or at least I do.  But maybe you do too.

And when the weather turns, it can be more and more difficult to spend the day at a desk.  Especially if the desk is far from the windows.  Or if the desk still has piles of things you should have done in the winter.  You may know deep down that the desk is also a privilege and that the desk represents your way of securing food and shelter, but still.

Work can feel like more like a chore when the outside world is calling you to play.

This is the first spring in a long time where I’ve had a desk of my own rather than the rambling life of the mobile office.  And while I do have some freedom to go on walkabouts or coffee shop trips, I’m spending a lot more time trying to get things done in a less-than-mobile situation.   So I’m starting a Desk Survival List, of all the things that can keep me inspired on the days I can’t afford to roam or I start to feel like work is a trap more than a gift:

-Watch a Tiny Desk concert on NPR.  This is a brilliant series where artists perform an intimate set in a real office.  I’d like to think even the humblest of desks can be stages for music.

-Eat a snack.  Maybe even something special that you don’t have at home.  As Jerry Seinfeld and Tina Fey wisely discuss in this episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” snacks are basically a vacation.  While you’re at it, you could also watch an episode of CICGC.

-Take a 10-minute break to learn about something that seems to have nothing to do with your field of work.  If someone asks you what you’re up to, tell them you are testing out the Medici Effect.  They may or may not have follow up questions.   This exercise may start out as just a mental break but you could end up surprised by how useful it is.  I did this one day and learned all about Overview Effect and went on to use the idea in a number of projects and conversations where I seemed way more well-rounded than I am.

-Breathe slower and stare off into the distance for a 3-minute mental retreat.  This is a regular practice in Ignatian spirituality so you can claim it as a religious right if you need to.

-Look up your favorite song from middle school on YouTube.  Music is an effective way to time travel.  It may look to your co-workers like you are just listening to music, but you’re really back on the gym floor awkwardly dancing out your hormones.  (Caution: Beware the YouTube wormhole where one song/video reminds you of another one and before you know it, three days have passed.)

-If you have a habit of keeping old emails, revisit some of them.  Celebrate the things you accomplished but forgot about.  Celebrate that all the pressing matters of a year ago are less pressing now (perhaps?).  Go back through your calendar and celebrate all the Monday meetings and Wednesday afternoons and Friday emergencies that have brought you to where you are.

-When all else fails… beach screensaver for the win.

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