Quick disclaimer: I definitely cleaned my desk before snapping these photos. Please don’t believe for a second that my desk looked like this for more than 60 seconds. In fact, the Coke Zero is already opened.
I’m still not totally sure why I put this blog post together other than I’ve always enjoyed seeing what’s on other people’s desks. So I figured “Hey, I can be other people and maybe the other other people will like seeing how I’ve got things setup.”
For reference, if you’re reading this, you’re the other other people. I hope you enjoy this.
Working from home full time
In December WP Site Care closed down our office and I’ve been working from home full time ever since. Truthfully I’ve really enjoyed the shift.
I never had a long commute (10-15 minutes), but now I’m home during really important times of the day, like when my family is having breakfast, and my boys are getting home from school.
It’s still not a perfect scenario, but having worked from home before I had some idea of what to expect, and some of the challenges, and Jackie and I have been really proactive about setting expectations and getting a stronger grasp on what a good work from home situation looks like.
But I get it. That’s not why you’re here. I’ll get to the gear. I promise. But be warned. Some day I’ll talk more about what a great work from home setup looks like for a family like mine, and you’ll read it whether you want to or not.
Making an adjustment
It’s taken a good six weeks or so but I feel like my desk scenario is really solid now. I’ve done some fine tuning to get just the right balance of having what I need nearby, without eliminating mobility from my life altogether.
I’m reminded of Tim the Toolman Taylor and is La-z-bowl recliner. I haven’t quite ended up there yet, but I can’t say it’s not frequently on my mind.
OK OK OK I’ll talk about my desk. I’m gonna keep this tight so hang on. I don’t have all day to have you sitting here reading my blog.
1. My iMac
Last year my laptop got jacked and I had to get a replacement quick. I actually did order a brand new Macbook Pro, but was underwhelmed really quickly and ended up selling it. Instead I decided to buy the best possible desktop computer I could, and boyhowdy do I like this machine. It’s certainly my favorite computer I’ve ever owned.
For the nerds out there I have a 4.2 GHz i7 processor with 32GB of RAM and 8GB of Graphics processing horsepower! Sometimes it feels like overkill for a lot of the stuff I do (mainly writing, coding, etc), but it’s really nice to have when I’m ripping Blu-rays for our Plex collection.
2. External Hard Drive
I’ve written before about how I backup this computer. Cloud backups are great, but there’s something reassuring about having a local backup I can call up when/if I ever need it. I use SuperDuper for local backups and it runs a few times a week. This 2TB hard drive with a really small form factor (not much bigger than a deck of cards) from a reputable brand (Seagate) felt like a good deal for around 70 bucks.
3. Blu-Ray Drive
I use this drive for ripping our family’s Blu-Ray collection so we can use it on Plex. There’s not really much else to say other than finding a Mac Compatible external Blu-Ray player is much harder than I ever would have guessed. This one has ripped almost 400 Blu-Rays already like a real champ.
4. Amazon Echo
ALEXA REMIND ME TO WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT MY DESK SETUP
🤖 OK I’LL REMIND YOU
By now I think we’re all pretty familiar with Alexa. This is the original Amazon Echo and I’ve got some Amazon skills setup for it.
For example, I can have it add stuff to my calendar, cue me to meditate, and the typical stuff like add stuff to my shopping list.
This is a blog post for another day, but the reason I use Alexa most of the time when I’m surrounding by Apple device is simple: 99% of the time Alexa understands exactly what I’m asking for and makes it happen.
5. Noise-canceling Headphones
The scenario doesn’t come up super often, but there are times when I really need to block out the world around me completely and focus on work.
All of my boys are in school now so from 9-3 most days I can count on some quiet time, but when they have breaks from school, or stay home for sickness or whatever, it’s nice to have a way to block out everything.
The Bose QC35 ii headphones are pretty costly, but my justification was that they’re a lot cheaper than renting an office. I’m great at justification.
Author’s note: I’d love to be able to wear these for longer stretches, but because of my fat head I’m limited to a few hours at the most
6. S’Well Water Bottle
I’m still not super diligent, but I really do try and drink as much water as I can. Having a water bottle handy has been a game changer in that regard. I find that if the water’s sitting there, I’m gonna drink it.
I really like this particular water bottle because it’s super sturdy and durable (seriously this is a really well-made product) and is a good size to go with me on the road too.
7. Apple Trackpad
Seven years ago I would have laughed in your face if you told me I’d ever own an Apple Computer, and now I’m ALL IN on Apple. I love their products and they’re super great at accommodating the way I like to work.
Along those lines, I never ever would have imagined that I’d not only use a Trackpad, but that I’d love one as much as I do this one. There was definitely an adjustment period, but now that I have the hang of it, I think a mouse would feel like a huge step backward for me.
If you’ve never tried a trackpad before, I hope you get a chance soon. Don’t be stubborn like me. It’s always worth trying something new.
8. Coke Zero
I had to add this here as my first public admission that I’ve had a conversation with Diet Pepsi and we’ve both agreed that we’re going to try and see other people for a while.
In a lot of ways it feels very wrong, but the crisp refreshing taste of Coke Zero (I will call it Coke Zero Sugar when I’m dead and my ghost insists on using proper names) is too hard to resist sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. Diet Pepsi and I still have a solid thing going, but we’ve agreed it’s at least worth seeing what’s available to us in this great big world we live in.
I like to go analogue every now and again. I don’t really have a routine for when or how I use paper notebooks, but sometimes it just feels good to get some writing done.
To give you an idea of how infrequently that is, I’ve been working on this 80 page notebook for the better part of a year now and I’m about 75% of the way through.
If I had to identify a pattern, I probably go to pen & paper when I’m really feeling stuck and don’t know how to move forward. If you’re curious it’s a green Moleskin notebook with lined paper.
10. Pilot G-2 Pens
I just wanted to say that even though I don’t write with pen & paper very often, I still have at least a dozen of these pens in my cup holder so I for sure never run out. They’re an extremely good value in terms of price and how reliable they are. Great pens (I’m officially an old man).
As soon as I was able to get over the fact that it looks like short straws are dangling out of my ears, I purchased Airpods and they really are just as great as everyone says they are.
I’m not a huge sound quality freak, so I couldn’t compare them intelligently to anything else on the market, but they’re great for phone calls and listening to music while I work, which is 90% of the time I’m using headphones.
They’re so comfortable that I genuinely forget I’m wearing them sometimes. And the charging times are probably the most impressive of any piece of electronics I’ve ever owned.
I bought these as a total skeptic and was ready to return them, but I won’t be shopping for new wireless earbuds for a very long time.
12. Belkin iPad Stand
It’s probably a little weird for me to mention something like an iPad stand, but this one is worth mentioning. I really wanted a way to prop up my iPad next to my computer and use it as a notification center and daily calendar, and the options are horrible.
The base is a little bigger than I’d probably like, but I went through so many “tablet stands” that were absolute trash and had to return. The Belkin Tablet Stage is super sturdy, let’s me position it however I want, and is definitely a product I’d recommend.
13. 10.5” iPad Pro
I mentioned earlier that my Macbook Pro got stolen last year, which sucked. But it did create an unexpected opportunity for me to reimagine my technology life.
Since I wasn’t really crazy about any of the current Macbooks, and I spent a truckload of money on a new iMac, I decided I’d try something kind of radical and try and use an iPad as my only computer when I’m away from my desk.
I bought the iPad Pro about 8 months ago and while there are still things I can’t do on an iPad that I’d be able to do on a laptop, I don’t think I could be convinced to use a laptop instead. It’s so nice to travel with, and since 90% of what I do is writing, messaging, surfing, etc., the iPad works incredibly well for what I need.
About 3 years ago I decided it was time to jump on the standing desk bandwagon, and I jumped all the way in. I never tried to work in the standing position before ordering my Evodesk.
I basically blindfolded myself and threw a dart, and luckily the dart hit the bullseye! Looking at the Evodesk website today, they’re definitely more money than I paid (I was around $650 all in) and they have way more fancy options, but for what I need, this desk is golden. Programmable heights, automatic adjustment, and a big sturdy top. In the words of Mr. Burns… EXCELLENT.
We’ve ordered several in our company now, and they’ve consistently been super reliable and well-built. The price is on the higher end (especially with all their new fanciness), but to me it still feels like a great investment 3 years later.
What’s on your desk?
OK, so I’ve shared what’s on my desk. Now what’s on yours? Anything weird or fun or interesting? I know my desk is pretty basic, but that’s intentional too. I try and keep distraction as far away as possible, cause I am incredibly susceptible.
I keep my weird stuff on a shelf to the side of the desk. What, you don’t have Funkopop figurines for the entire Silicon Valley cast (including a Ron Swanson cameo)? Huh.