Where work gets done


When I was in high school, we took a summer trip to visit relatives in Nova Scotia. While there, we stopped by my uncle’s office. In the back room was a huge (to me) drafting table*. It had an adjustable angle drawing surface, a metal pencil tray, and a solid, metal frame with a foot rest. All in all, the Cadillac of tables.

As I admired the table, my uncle asked if I wanted it. It had been sitting there for years, collecting dust, and no one was using it. Of course, I said yes.

It was way too large to transport back in the car, so we decided to ship it back by rail. After what seemed an eternity (actually, only about a month), the table arrived. I had never had this much room to work, and it was a huge change for me. It represented the progression from hobbyist to professional. It was my mission control, and it was the place I associated with doing work.

I used that table for many years, from college all-nighters through to my career as a graphic designer.

I eventually sold the table. While it was magnificent, It took up a lot of room, and wasn’t the easiest thing to move. I ended up replacing it with a smaller, more convenient table. But more important than the actual table itself, was the fact that I associated it with getting work done.

Carving out a place to work is important. Not everyone has the luxury of a fancy table, or a separate office area. It could be a folding table in your spare room, or a spot at the kitchen table after dinner. This is your mission control, and not simply a place to keep your gear. This is where you put up the red rope. Members of your family should understand that you need to work, distraction-free.

I’m now using a flat Ikea table, and have been for many years. While it may not be as “fun” as my first drafting table, it is still my mission control.

It’s where work gets done.


* This is a sketch of my ‘studio’ as it appeared in 1982. The big, corded phone on the right is a giveaway. And I’m pretty sure that’s a Raiders of the Lost Ark poster on the wall.