As a Gen X’er who has had successful careers in multiple industries and cities, survived years of freelancing and navigating self-inflicted change, I must admit that structure and routine can be my best friend. Yet, I’ve avoided any semblance of routine like it’s the plague. The hard truth is that I can be my own worst enemy and I equate a well-planned schedule with monotony and lack of challenge.

So how can I put systems in place that create enough structure without feeling held back? In the past few months, I learned that it can start with one simple piece of furniture, a desk.

I’m a champion of flexible work and seek to eradicate cubicle culture, but as it turns out, a person like me can benefit from both flexible, semi-open workspaces and a desk to call my own. I didn’t quite realize how much the desk had become to symbolize for me the chains of a more traditional job, but the desk has survived 100 years of work evolution, so there must be something to this utilitarian piece of furniture!

In this year leading up to opening GoodWork, I’ve logged hours at dozens of coffee shops, attempted to work at home with the dogs, at the library, my partner’s office, parks, and more. I’ve been restless, often irritable and unproductive. I did have a designated desk in my laundry room, but let’s be honest, I was never going to actually sit down and work there.

Recently I decided to move that desk to our guest room and carve out a space that could actually entice me to sit down and do focused work. There’s ample daylight and I have a filing system and my creature comfort office supplies.

It took me a few months, but now I spend several hours a week getting focused, quiet administration and operational work done at the desk. If I need to problem solve, I take a walk or do something to take my mind off work and a solution usually creeps in. If I need to read or catch up on social media, I find a more comfortable spot on a couch or lounge chair.

In this process, I’m  learning how to actually live what we will promote and offer at GoodWork, doing different types of work in spaces conducive to that kind of project or task. At GoodWork, I’m going to add our offerings of variable height desks, quiet nooks, brainstorm and play spaces into the mix. And the routine of showing up at the same place most days will keep my ADD-ridden creative spirit on point, without stifling what makes me uniquely Amy.

What tools do you use to give yourself routine as a freelancer, business owner, or nomadic worker? Let’s learn from each other!

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  1. This is great – my desk at home is in our guest room too… it’s all white in there so it’s bright and simple and there’s little to nothing to get distracted by. I have had to start setting dedicated work hours even when I’m working at home, otherwise my work eats up my brain when it should be focused on my family. the tools I use to keep my work focused are a good task manager like wunderlist or basecamp (I’ve used both in the past, currently using wunderlist), a paper planner with time blocks (like the erin condren life planner), and also followup.cc which lets me get emails I don’t need to take action on right away out of my inbox. oh also I love typeform for getting initial client survey info collected, and calendly for setting consultations so i don’t have to go back and forth with poeple via email. finally i use quickbooks for accounting so i can keep my business expenses all in line and my invoices straight, as well as take invoice payment online. every minute counts!

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