What is desk,…

Source: Before GTD

… that we art mindful of it?  

I love to write about desks, desks, desks, desks, desks, desks.  But what I love even more, is when someone else writes about desks who “gets” desks.  I saw a very nice. compact, philosophy of desk post by Justin Jackson “Things I’ve Stopped Doing At My Desk” on Hacker News today.  Check it out! 


Source: Justin Jackson “Things I’ve Stopped Doing At My Desk”

bill meade 

8 thoughts on “What is desk,…

  1. Bill,

    I guess you might say that I am the same way - I keep tweaking what I do, and it is getting better with every iteration.

    I have been using index cards for years (binder clip and pen), I write on one side only, and then I translate anything I want to keep into a digital list which I can access from anywhere.

    I have been thinking of moving to one idea per card (at your suggestion, if I recall) and I’m also probably going to break up my task list into one entry per idea i.e. one note in Google Drive, since it seems to get unwieldly when the file size grows too large - right now there is just one file for the list, and it feels too sluggish.

    But for thinking… yeah, nothing beats pen and paper, and doing a one idea per card thing allows you to sort very easily on a large desk.

    Thanks for the suggestion - I will be sure to check out the as-is section at my local store (Ottawa, Canada - it is one of the largest in the country, so maybe they will have something).

    Ikeahackers is a great site too for inspiration.

    Whatever I do, it will be pretty special and when I’m done, I’ll take some pictures and send them in!


  2. Thanks for sharing Justin’s setup, Bill - it looks great.

    And nice site overall, Justin, I really enjoyed this article and your other one on building the standing desk.

    Food for thought - we are moving house in approximately two weeks, and it is a chance for me to “start fresh” with my office. I’m going for a minimalist theme, it will be Japanese flavoured, my little Zen garden of productivity so to speak.

    There will be a few trips to IKEA…

    I’ve been struggling (sounds funny, I know) with my office space for some time, and it is my own fault as usual - I “tech’d up” with dual LCDs, external hard drives galore and so forth, but ultimately I think all I need is a new, professional grade laptop with a nice display.

    I’m currently running a 2008 MacBook Pro with OS X 10.8, maxed out memory and an SSD - it does work, but it is upgrade time. So I’m sort of in the spot of, “do I build on what I have, keep the displays, or do I sell them/pawn them off on my four children (see Justin, you’re not the only one!) and buy a Retina MacBook Pro or a ThinkPad W530?”

    Much thinking to do. I may have some time to ponder it, as I figured out my focus strategy when it comes to separating “work” from “play”. I use two completely different devices in two locations, when I’m “out here” on the web talking with you folks I sit upstairs in the family room with a laptop.

    Soon that laptop will belong to my 11-year old, and will be replaced by a hybrid tablet (likely an ASUS Transformer Infinity, but I may hold for a month and a half to see what the Windows 8 hybrids look like - I’m “platform agile”, to put it best, I can use anything to do my work).

    So it is readily apparent to me what I “should be doing” when I’m in the office.

    • Brett,

      It seems like I’m always relearning what to do in the office. Or, how to spread my work across the organizing tools and environments available to me. Right now, I’m thinking more and more with 3×5 cards. Get the idea down on a card, get the card into a deck, then sit down and take the deck out, shuffle the most important cards to the front, then do the most important cards.

      It reminds me of Robert Pirsig’s description in Lila (p. 25-6) of the 11,000 4×6 slips of paper in card catalog trays, sorting one slip before or after the other to get the entire 11,000 card deck ready to start writing a book.

      Only, my cards are more nonlinear. I jump around. Anyway, my state of the art technology right now is a rubber band to gather 20 blank cards and my 35 in-process cards, into a single pile that separates in-process from blank. This is a portable office for me.

      One thing I’ve done with my home desk (son of The Perfect GETTING THINGS DONE Desk) was to buy a white Ikea conference table ($129), and then Galant frame and adjustable legs for it. If I had it to do over, I’d go to the Ikea “as is” department and buy a used white Ikea conference table ($65) and the used Galant frame if I could find one. In Portland, the frame and used white conference tables are almost always available in the as is department.

      Also, check out ikeahackers.net, lots of fun Ikea ideas to stir up thinking.

      bill meade

      • At one time I had a 30″ Apple display (landscape) and a 25″ 1920×1200 cheapo display (portrait). It was so hot I could feel myself getting suntanned infront of those two monsters. I loved the screen real-estate, and at times it is handy to have a large portrait monitor at the ready. But, …

        Mac OS, Windows, and Linux, all don’t know what to do with the screens. It got to be such a hassle taming all the programs so they would not all try to own each screen, that I dropped back to an iMac 24″, and it was a relief. I have that same 24″ at school, and 27″ iMac at home. One substantial display is enough. Two, for me, is not more utility.

        I looked at the screen organizing utilities, but dude, I only have so much bandwidth for learning stuff to evaluate whether it is good. So, finding the complexified work around to tame screens fell off my plate and stayed off.

        One substantial display is enough I think. Also, it is easier to put a single display on a monitor arm so you can keep your desk as a desk (as opposed to losing the desk to being a gigantic monitor stand). Monitor arms are where the extra utility in displays was for me.

        Thanks for the post Justin!

        bill meade

      • Justin, Bill,

        I am thinking of going back to one (external) display as well. In my enthusiasm a little over a year ago, and spurred on by a sale (!), I purchased dual 24″ panels and a USB DisplayLink adapter - required for my MacBook Pro as it is a bit older.

        After using it for a time, well, I will be honest - I think it was overkill. I read that post by Jason Fried myself and you know, he’s right at least in my experience. I’ve been using just the laptop display now for several weeks since my gear is packed up for our move, and it has brought me focus.

        Really, since moving to OS X 10.7 and then 10.8, I noticed myself using full screen applications a lot and just swiping between them with the Magic Trackpad. The dual displays don’t really work well for that.

        I had originally intended to use the duals for my virtual machine testing (i.e. a VM on one panel in full screen mode, leaving the other panel free) - that works, but I think it just causes me to lose focus.

        So when I rebuild my office in the new house, I think I am going to try and run with one external panel (and thanks Bill for the visual inspiration from your latest post, very nice and you’ve got me thinking about that IKEA conference table) - the question is, what to do with the extra one.

        Now, I have four children so surplus electronics aren’t a problem in my house :) but I have half a mind to sell the dual 24’s and purchase a high-res 27.

        I might also mount the display on a monitor arm, as that looks to add a lot of functionality.


        • To tell the truth, I don’t notice a difference between my 24″ iMac at the office and the 27″ at home. Instead of buying a 27″ monitor, I’d lean towards buying a Mac Mini to stick on the back of one of the monitors you have. That would free up your laptop from its umbilical, and give you another degree of freedom around the house.

          I have the honking Innovative HD arms, at the office and home. But if you only have a monitor, these are overkill. Amazon intermittantly has a lighter weight version of the HD arms for $80 each.

          Getting all the crap you can off the first 6″ up from the desk surface is very mind-like-water-inducing.


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