I have been obsessed with desk setups for quite some time now.
Having lived in more than six different places in the past eight years, I was forced to construct and destroy multiple desk setups.
Most of these setups had one flaw or another.
I have tried it all — use a 43” LG Monitor, 34” Ultrawide, two monitors set up, you name it.
All of these failed in one way or another.
I realized that the best desk setup that lets you do your most productive work is a simple one.
The one I settled with here in Toronto has been my most productive one so far. It’s simple, helps me focus better, and gives me the fewest distractions.
A desk setup cannot do your work for you. It will just enable you to do your best work. At the end of the day, you will have to execute. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.
Just Enough Screen Real Estate
I always thought that the bigger the monitor, the more I could fit, and the more work I would get done.
That’s why my first setup included a 43” LG Monitor (or TV?!). Bad idea!
Turns out, the first victim in such a setup is your neck! You have to move it a lot to be able to see across all sides of the screen.
Next, I experimented with a 34” Ultrawide. My primary workflow was programming and video editing, so it made sense to maximize the horizontal real estate.
Once again, bad idea. Most things looked “weird” because of the aspect ratio. The “look” of every app ended up being a distraction.
Such specialized setups were difficult to replicate when traveling. It took some adjusting whenever I wasn’t home and I used that as an excuse to only do important work when I was home.
All that said and done, I found that the best monitor for me was a 4K 27” Dell monitor.
The 4K resolution lets me fit enough content while keeping the aspect ratio more natural.
The 27” size was also perfect. It didn’t “seem awkwardly big” like an ultrawide or the 43” LG one.
A Good Typing Experience
I tried to love mechanical keyboards, but could not. My fingers would hurt when typing, and I never found the sound soothing.
I also hated the key travel of the Apple Magic Keyboard, even though it was really convenient with the seamless Apple integration.
The one I use now (and fell in love with) is the Logitech MX Keys Wireless Backlit Keyboard — English | Best Buy Canada.
It has more key travel than the Apple Magic Keyboard, while not being as much as mechanical keyboards. I love the feel and my fingers never hurt after typing for hours.
I can also pair multiple devices (up to 3) at once. Once paired, I can toggle between them using 3 dedicated buttons. This lets me switch seamlessly between my work laptop, personal laptop, and iPad.
Keeping My Elbows Happy
One downside of a wooden table is that the hard surface can hurt your elbows or wrists.
Throughout the day, I find myself resting my hands on my desk countless times.
That’s where a desk pad can really help.
They tend to be very cheap off of Amazon. I got mine for USD$ 18 and never looked back.
Sometimes, I can also use the underside of the desk pad to keep papers with notes to keep them close by.
Scroll Both Ways
I didn’t understand the magical powers of horizontal scrolling until I used it to scroll through my video timeline on iMovie.
It’s a game-changer!
That’s when I decided to get the MX Master 3.
It’s ergonomic, highly customizable, and lets you create personalized profiles for every app.
Similar to the MX Master Keyboard, I can pair 3 devices at once and switch seamlessly between them using dedicated hardware buttons.
Something to Help with Focus
Even after getting the perfect monitor, keyboard, and mouse, if you can’t control the noise around you, you might as well work from a cafe or mall.
That’s where a pair of noise-canceling headphones come in.
Currently, I use my Apple AirPods Pro for everything — work, cooking, going on walks, or working out.
Previously, I used to use the Sony XM3 and loved them! Someone borrowed them, only for me to realize that the AirPods Pro is the best all-purpose headphones (earbuds) you can have.
The obvious thing missing so far is my machine of choice.
That would be the 2019 16” Macbook Pro.
I have written about Macbooks quite extensively in the past. So I won’t repeat myself here.
It can do everything that I want and need my laptop to do.
The size makes it a little less portable, but it’s well worth the trouble given the extra screen real estate this machine gives me.
I use a laptop stand (more on this next) to keep my laptop open so that I can use it as my secondary display. I mostly keep Slack, Clickup, or YouTube Music open. The primary focus is always on my monitor.
Keeping My Chin Up
Given I use my laptop as a secondary monitor, I need to keep it at eye level. Otherwise, my already bad posture would get even worse.
I bought this laptop stand from Amazon to fit my room’s white/bamboo aesthetic.
It’s cheap and does a good job. Not much else to say about it.
Putting It All Together
All said and done, these are the items that make up my productive desk setup:
- 4k 27” Dell Monitor
- Logitech MX Keys Wireless Keyboard
- Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
- Desk Pad
- Apple AirPods Pro
- 2019 16” Apple Macbook Pro
- Bamboo Laptop Stand
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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