Revolt against the desk

Justin Jackson
Personal Growth
Published in
3 min readMay 26, 2013


As designers, developers and makers we spend a lot of of time at our desks. We call them workstations — but are they really?

We want to produce great work, but our desks are full of distractions.

I’ve had enough. Here are some things I’m going to stop doing at my desk:


Nobody does their best thinking sitting at their desk.

When you reflect on your biggest “Ah-Ha!” moments, how many of them occurred while you were staring at a screen?

If you’re like me, your best thinking happens when you’re not at your desk: taking a walk, going and asking another person for help, drinking a coffee, in the shower. Your desk is for executing; do your thinking elsewhere.


When I sit down at my desk, I want to be in work mode. I want to prioritize my most important tasks, and then complete them with the fastest velocity possible. Socializing while I’m at my desk sullies the purity of the workstation. This is why the water cooler is actually a brilliant social construct: when you want to hang out, you can get up from your workstation and go to the socialstation. I think every workplace should have a socialstation, a place (or time in the morning) where team members can hang out, and talk informally.


Check Facebook, check Twitter, go on YouTube, check email, mindlessly read blog posts. I think that breaks, and downtime, are important in a work day. But again: we need to maintain the purity of our desks as a place where real work happens.

If I need some “mindless” time, I think it’s better to walk away from my desk and have a place and time limit where I do that. It’s also important that we catch ourselves when procrastinating and ask ourselves: “Why?” Are we procrastinating because we’re tired? Hungry? Bored? Are we stuck on a problem? Are we just feeling lethargic and need to get up and move around? Figure out what’s at the source of your mindless net browsing, and deal with the problem.


For the past 4 years I’ve been using a standing desk (I’m well past the “trendy” stage).

I’ve realized that the best part isn’t that I’m standing all day; it’s that I’m not sitting. A standing desk allows you to stand, sit, lean, and put one leg up while you’re at your workstation. Even better, I’ve felt more freedom to just walk away when I’m faced with a problem and need to do some thinking (or when I’m tired and need a break).

Photographer Ralph Morse.

Many writers maintain a private writing hut. The hut has one purpose: it’s the place they go to write. They don’t do anything else there. Once they can’t write any more, they go do something else.

Let’s treat our desks the same way.

Justin Jackson

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Originally published at on September 16, 2012.