Essential tools for GTDesk makeover

I recently worked with a high school teacher in Portland who had a desk which instantly demanded the nickname “The Abomination of Deskolation” hereafter TAOD).  The desk owner who shall remain Johnonymous, is a visual learner, and though he had read Getting Things Done (hereafter GTD) in paper and listened to it via Audible multiple times, Johnonymous was having trouble taking first steps to implement GTD.

After I spent a friday afternoon working at Johnonymous’s TAOD desk, taking components of GTD and illustrating how they might be implemented, I came up with a list of recommended tools to get Johnonymous started on his first GTD desk makeover.  Here’s the list:

  • Wireless keyboard. Wireless allows you to put the keyboard aside (in your empty inbox for example) when you are doing your desk-work to organize projects.  I use Apple’s wireless keyboards because the keys are white (readable), they are small and light, and they are minimalist.
  • But, if you are a Windows person I would recommend Microsoft’s minimalist wireless keyboard.  I fact, I’m tempted to try Microsoft’s keyboards because it is ½ the money of Apple’s.
  • Wireless mouse.  Wireless allows you to put the mouse aside (see above).  I use Logitech’s 1-battery M305 travel mice.  One battery because it aggravates my wrist less than a two battery mouse.  *Note* Logitech has about 20 different M305 mice and on, they vary about $10 in price.  I buy the cheapest model.
  • Two or three 10 port USB hubs.   I like two hub styles: in-line, and rectangle.   
    • In-line or vertical hubs <== $7.50 at Amazon which are good to put on left ad right edges of you desk to organize USB out of sight of your organizing work in the middle of your desk.   I’ve always ordered my 10 port hubs from in Hong Kong but it looks like is picking these up and will deliver them cheaper and faster.
    • Rectangle hubs. Rectangle hubs are great for cable management.  You can plug them into the computer, then hide them away under your desk where they can’t be seen.  Under the desk it is simple to plug USB devices in and out.  If you have a TAOD (the abomination of deskolation) desk, the rectangle hubs can be fantastic attached to the back of the typewriter elevator compartments.  This can allow you to put your scanner and label printer inside the desk and reduce clutter.
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. You need the ScanSnap (or equivalent) to get the paper out of your face and into your trusted system.  As I was snooping around Johnonymous’s TAOD (the abomination of deskolation) desk, I discovered that every layer of paper under the desk, had another layer of paper under it.  Reminded me of the Stephen Hawking “turtles all the way down” story as I looked at the mess and felt the tension of my subconscious mind’s parallel processes going nuts trying to figure out what to do about the disaster that before us.  Remember the “it’s about power scene” in Apollo 13?  When I see a messy desk today, I can feel all this engineers arguing about what should be done.  I can’t hear them in my head, because  they are subconscious processes.  But, I can feel them, and they transmit enormous tension to my mind when they are obsessing on messes.  The Fujitsu ScanSnap  S1500 is the perfect tool to silence your subconscious engineers arguing about your mess.  Just pick one big document, say a 3 ring binder with 200 pages in it.  Scan it into a PDF (4 minutes).  And all those subconscious engineers go silent.  Silence brings tension release.  Mind like water.  Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 is the single most powerful tool to bring you to mind like water.
  • Extra power outlets.  You can buy cheap ones, or expensive ones.  Look at your desk and decide what makes the most sense. Johnonymous’s TAOD (the abomination of desolation) desk has knee stalls (a typewriter elevator on the right, and drawers on the left).  So, mounting simple 6-outlet strips on the inside the typewriter compartment makes sense.  A 12 outlet Trip-Lite outlet strip could be mounted across the back of the desk.
  • Killer cool paper trays.  Something like the Fellows Partition Additions would be a good start because these trays can keep materials available to you, but the trays will stay off your desk.
  • Monitor arm.  Because I mount iMacs (Apple’s all-in-one computers that weigh 30 pounds) on my desks, I use the Innovative 7500-hd-1500 arm because I’m holding 24 and 27 pound iMacs.  I attempted to link to for this product but the links are not working, I bought my most recent arm from as it was $65 to $110 cheaper than Amazon.  The three models at SeaBoom do not have pictures, but I figured out their colors and have a guide here that you can use to pick your color.  I’ve been using this arm for about 10 years, since mounting an Apple 23″ cinema display on it. The arm is a brute with 5 or 6 mounting options (I just drill a ⅝” hole and bolt it to the desk) and a tension adjustment that renders the iMacs or monitors weightless.   If you have a desktop computer and just one monitor, you can probably get by quite happily with the little brother of this arm which is $130 as of this writing.
  • Evernote account.  I advise you to go to and subscribe to the professional level account for $45 a year (less than $5 a month!).  As you scan your way to an empty mind-like-water office, you will never regret the cost.  You can subscribe for free, but then you only get 60 megabytes of uploads per month which while seriously cramp your white tornado action as you scan your way to mind and office like water.  The pro account gives you 1 gigabyte of uploads (2 days worth at full tilt scanning) and then lets you add additional gigabytes of uploads for $5 each.

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