Desktop Zero

In recent months, I realized that my workspace was too cluttered. Working at home, I have a great deal of flexibility, but it’s also easy to just pile things up, since they don’t bother anyone but me.

But the capharnaum that was my office started becoming a distraction. I realized that I would see the many items on my desk out of the corners of my eyes, and that many of them stood as reminders of things I had to do, papers to sort, tasks to complete.

So I set out to achieve desktop zero, or to remove as much as possible from my desk. While full desktop zero, other than my iMac, keyboard, and trackpad, is not possible, I’ve gotten about as close as I can come. I’ve done this by off-loading a number of items that were on my desk to other locations in my office (cabinets with doors), or to a new set of shelves I bought (more on them in a future article). As such, my desktop now looks like this:

Desktop zero

As you can see, it’s not entirely devoid of items. There are two speakers (which I’m hoping to replace with smaller, less ugly speakers, in the near future), a desk lamp, and a small écritoire, or writing desk, which holds a lot of the tiny objects I need to use during the day. At the right, you can see my microphone boom which is attached to the desk, and behind the writing desk, a pen holder and pencil holder. Finally, there’s a small bamboo box which holds remotes, AirPods, and a few other tiny objects.

What is not visible from this photo is a long, low cabinet to the right, on which I have my amplifier and CD player, printer and scanner, and a number of gadgets. But the angle of this cabinet (about 45 degrees leading from the near right corner of the desk) is such that I don’t see it when I work.

This change to my desktop is part of a broader program to minimalize my office. I sold a large amplifier and bought a Sonos Amp; I changed the position of a number of items; and I removed some furniture, notably a tall dark bookcase that made one section of my office uninviting.

In an ideal world, my office would have little more than my computer, some audio equipment, and a handful of everyday items. I would love to have a second room, near my office, where I could put everything else. Alas, that is not the case, but my new desktop has made my work a bit less stressful. If you can achieve desktop zero or approach it, you may find the same thing.

9 thoughts on “Desktop Zero

      • Traditionally, the ones I’ve seen have lids, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t make one with a drawer. Search for “ecritoire” on Google images to see a lot of examples.

  1. I don’t know the word “capharnaum” and my iPad thinks it’s an American technical death metal band. What is the meaning of this five-dollar word? (Maybe ten-dollar since it’s such a stumper?)

  2. The most impressive example of desktop zero I’ve ever seen was at a hotel in Hawaii. The checkin desk was a beautiful, long, hardwood desk at table height. There were swivel chairs for the guests to sit in while talking to the receptionist. On the desk were three MacBook Airs, one in front of each receptionist. That’s it. Nothing else. Not even a mouse. Everything else that was needed was hidden away under the desk. Absolutely stunning.

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