9 Ultimate Minimal Desk Setups tips

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the ultimate minimal desk setup guide
Image Credit to @mekunotech (instagram)

Building Your Ultimate Minimal Desk Setup

(UPDATED MAY 2023) Welcome to Minimal Desk Setup’s first Feature Article. In this article, we’ll go through our top 8 tips to kickstart your journey toward building minimal desk setups. What is a minimal desk setup you might ask? For us, it is a desk that is clean, aesthetically pleasing and most importantly, a desk that you want to sit down at and enjoy. Whether for work or for play, a cluttered desk setup will make for a cluttered mind. Not only will having an organized desk look more appealing, but it will also motivate you to get more done.

We’ve got some new tips and tricks to share with our latest desk setup refresh. Check out our new youtube video below – released MAY 2023.

There are three types of setup when it comes to desk setups, and they are:

Everyday Desk Setups – covered in this article – They are designed to be comfortable and neat. There is a good degree of ergonomics but not overly optimized. The cables are neat, and there is no clutter. It would be common to have a laptop dock or a full desktop as part of the setup.

Home Office Setups – Optimised heavily for ergonomics with the assumption that you will use it quite heavily to work from home. Not very flashy, almost no RGBs. Potentially some mechanical keyboards, but more importantly just having the keyboard be wireless is enough. A standing desk would be very common for this setup as there is a strong focus on ergonomics.

Gaming setups – These types of setups can still be minimal, but more so there is an added focus on gaming peripherals and RGB lighting. Whether those actually improve your performance, who knows, but one thing is for sure, it definitely adds style points to your setup when showing it off to the gaming audience.

The whole reason you want a desk setup that’s minimal is to improve your productivity while working. We have a full guide on how to improve your work productivity with several hacks.

We developed a chrome extension for your desk setup. Enhance your daily productivity with ‘Focus by MDS’: a Chrome extension that uniquely combines a to-do list, Pomodoro timer, and beautiful wallpapers, transforming every new tab into an inspiring and efficient workspace. Read more about our chrome extension – Focus by MDS.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to what desk accessories you should get, have a read of our comprehensive guide on desk accessories for 2022. We go through what to prioritise depending on what sort of setup you have.

If you ever need inspiration, feel free to visit our gallery! Also join our Facebook group as we share exclusive giveaways, discounts and tailored tips for your desk setup. If you want to ask questions or get help this is the place to go. (See Facebook Group)

1. Clear the Clutter

Desk Pad or Desk Mat by MDS
See guide on our autumn setup

Our first tip is to clear the clutter on your desk. Items that are used every day can go on the desk. Put frequently-used items, like your smartphone home office or gaming supplies, within arms reach. Less frequently used items can go in a drawer, underneath or to the side of your desk. The use of pegboards and desk organizers, such as shelving is another good way of sorting out frequently used items from ones that are not. For impressive minimal desk setups people generally only keep their peripherals, phone, monitor and laptop mounted on their table.

In terms of looks, using a Desk Pad has been the prime choice of many to segment their desk setup. We go into a bit of detail on how we created our desk pad to provide the most optimal solution for people looking to create working zones on the desk itself. The desk pad itself can also help contain the clutter with the orbit key desk pad having a storage compartment within the desk pad itself.

We’ve talked heaps about keeping the desk organised, but we also think it’s worth considering a pegboard that is placed on your desk instead of being wall-mounted. It may be worthwhile to check out the WALI Desk Organiser as it provides a neat solution to organise the items on your desk and doubles as a headphone stand.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

2. Improve Lighting

Image Credits: @ramz_digital (see post)

Using lighting can help brighten things up! The quality of lighting can not only help increase the aesthetics of desk setups but also your productivity. Poor lighting can reduce energy and may even affect your health, causing eyestrain and headaches, and ultimately impairing your ability to work or game.

Our top tip is to allow as much natural light as possible, whether via windows or a skylight, as warm natural sunlight will help improve any desk setup. However, you may need to account for glare during certain times of the day with blinds or curtains.

In situations where natural lighting isn’t enough. A well-defined light source will go a long way. An adjustable or articulating desk lamp can brighten up exactly where you need it and support a variety of tasks. Using a screen bar lamp can also aid with lighting up your desk whilst reducing glare from your monitor.

Finally, ambient and accent lighting can be added to help improve the visual character of any desk setup. Whether it’s a fully-fledged RGB-controlled system for your battle station or some simple warm ambient lighting for your workstation.

If you’re interested, we have a definitive guide detailing how to achieve the perfect lighting for desk setups. Using the screen bar is the best way to do so, as it has the perfect balance between style and practicality.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

3. Desk Selection

Image Credits: @andresvidoza (see post)

Our next tip is to select the appropriate furniture for your desk setups. The desk is perhaps the most important part of any setup as it can hugely impact factors such as; clutter, aesthetics and ergonomics. It is so important that it is even in the name of our blog! Consider the following when selecting an appropriate desk:

  • Select a desk according to how it will be used. Consider a desk with drawers if extra storage is needed, but for extra minimal desk setups, consider a desk with trestle or steel legs.
  • Consider the dimensions of the desk. Allow for a minimum depth of 60cm (2 ft) to allow for monitors and accessories. When considering desks in a small room, be sure to allow for space for chair movement.
  • Consider the build quality and aesthetics. Desks made from solid timber and hardwood will provide exceptional durability and longevity and will provide a unique look, as no two wood grain patterns will be the same. If wood grain isn’t your thing, gloss white/black/brown desks are also available for that minimal and clean look.

What about standing desks?

If you’re looking for a more ergonomic option, we recommend you to have a look at our standing desk guide which gives some in-depth insights on how to select a standing desk. When looking for a standing desk, some of the relevant areas to consider are:

  1. Which length and depth of the standing desk to choose?
  2. What the material of the tabletop is?
  3. Whether it comes with any cable management features?
  4. What weight it can support?
  5. How about the stability of the standing desk at standing height?
  6. How much does the standing desk cost?

If you don’t have enough budget for it, as they are understandably quite pricey, you may want to look at just a static desk potentially from IKEA.

What IKEA options are available for desks in general?

If you’re running low on budget, we put together a collection of typical desk setups available through the ever-so-cost-effective IKEA. Check out our IKEA starter pack article, which should give you some idea on how to start with a small budget setup and upgrade each component as your needs grow over time. This article details that the most cost-effective setup is the IKEA Linnmon with Adil Legs. However, the best setup with adequate storage space is the IKEA Karlby with 2 Alexs as the Tabletop stands. In that article, we detail the costs and how they can improve your productivity.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

4. Consider Ergonomics

Image Credits: @camdiceccatech (Instagram)

Tip number 4 is to consider desk setup ergonomics. We have a full article detailing how to perfect your work-from-home setup ergonomics. Consider the following factors when selecting and setting up your desk:

  • Monitor Height: Using an adjustable monitor arm can help o reduce neck and shoulder strain. Look for a monitor arm with height, swivel and tilt adjustment to dial in your exact settings.
  • Ergonomic Chair: Many adverse health concerns may arise when sitting for extended periods of time. Whether choosing a life partner or an office chair, it’s important to know what to look for. Consider factors such as adjustability, support and comfort when choosing a chair. It also never hurts to try before you buy.
  • Keyboard and mouse: Typing or gaming for a long period at a time may cause discomfort in the wrist, arms and shoulders. Selecting the appropriate ergonomic keyboards and mice may help alleviate much of this discomfort, especially during prolonged work or gaming sessions.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

5. Choosing your peripherals

Equipment selection is the next tip on our list for your journey towards minimal desk setups. Selecting the correct equipment and peripherals will go a long way in not only improving your productivity but the look and feel of your setup as well.

  • Wireless peripherals: The use of wireless peripherals such as keyboards, mice and headsets will go a long way in helping you maintain a clean and minimal desk.
  • Monitors: Without the right display, everything you do on your PC will seem lacklustre, whether it’s gaming, watching videos on YouTube or even just reading and editing a text document. The first step is determining your monitor’s main purpose; everyday use, gaming, and professional use. Generally, gamers should prioritise faster refresh rates and low response times, professionals should prioritize colour accuracy, and general-use users will have less specific needs.
  • Hubs and Docks: If working from a laptop, a laptop dock or hub can help keep your desk setup clean and tidy.

We know selecting a good keyboard can be a hard task with the vast options available. Hence, we put together a comprehensive Mechanical Keyboard guide to help you weigh the different switches, layouts and options. Overall, we recommend a 60-65% wireless mechanical keyboard to help achieve a minimal look with adequate functionality for your day-to-day tasks.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

6. Enhancing Productivity with Accessories

While having a clean, uncluttered space is essential for productivity, certain accessories can take your work efficiency to the next level. These tools are designed to streamline your tasks, help you keep track of time, or provide quick access to information, all without contributing to desk clutter.

  1. Digital Timers/Smart Clocks: Devices like pomodoro timers help keep track of time spent on tasks, enforcing breaks, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Their sleek design can complement your minimal setup.
  2. Smart Speakers/Assistants: Tools like Amazon Alexa via Echo allow for hands-free control, quick information retrieval, and integration with your calendar or to-do list apps. Select a model that matches your desk aesthetics and meets your functionality needs.
  3. Productivity Software: Consider software solutions to enhance your workflow. Programs like ChatGPT, Notion and Clickup can help organize tasks, manage projects, and even block distracting websites, keeping you focused.
  4. Mobile Device Stands: For those who need constant access to their smartphones or tablets, consider a stylish stand like AISIERONE phone stand. It keeps your device accessible and your posture healthy.

Remember, the key to maintaining a minimal desk setup is to ensure every item has a purpose. Choose accessories that you’ll use regularly and that contribute to your productivity.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

7. Cable Management

why is a mechanical keyboard so expensive

Cable clutter is the bane of minimal desk setups! Sure, using wireless devices as much as possible will help, but there will always be plenty of cable snaking around. Here are some tips for organising those cables once and for all.

Using cable management items such as cable ties and Velcro strips is a great way to bundle and route cables together, making for a cleaner appearance.

Using cable management trays such as the IKEA Signum is a great way to get that rat’s nest of cables off the ground and hidden away. Cable management boxes are another great way to hide those nasty power strips and give your setup a cleaner look.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

8. Cleaning and maintenance

Once you have your dream desk setup complete, tip number 7 is to keep it clean. This will ensure that your setup remains clean and minimal for years to come. Here are our top tips for cleaning and maintaining your setup:

  • Assess your setup at the end of each day, and put away less frequently used items. You’ll be surprised how quickly items can pile up!
  • Clean larger areas such as your desk frequently. Wiping down your desk with a damp cloth is a great way to remove dust and debris.
  • Clean frequently touched items regularly, such as keyboards and mice. Wet wipes are a great and simple method for this. A small brush is also handy for cleaning those hard-to-reach areas, such as in between keyboard keys.

Here are some of our top recommendations:

9. Make the space yours!

Image Credits: @minimal.desksetups

Finally, but most importantly, our final tip is to make the desk yours! At the end of the day, this should be a place you want to sit down and be at, Whether it is for work or for play. Decorate and personalise your space to inspire you to create, game faster and harder to work more productively.

At this point, you can also consider adding a desk pad to help soften the interaction between your keyboards and mouse to the tabletop and help prevent scratches. In addition, a desk pad can also add warmth and cosiness to your setup.

the Desk Pad by MDS
Image Courtesy of @o.j.s.d on Instagram

Have a look at our comprehensive guide on desk pads and desk mats and how we’ve designed one that is suitable for all uses.

Other than that, here are our 3 Ps to make the desk setups yours:

Plants: Plants are a great way to liven a room up. For those who don’t mind a little bit of maintenance consider live indoor plants, but for those who tend to forget, artificial plants are the way to go. If you’re looking for plants to match your desk setups, take a look at this article where one of our readers’s submitted his luscious green desk setups.

Pictures: Pictures of loved ones, pets, and past memories are a great way to personalize your desk setup. Whether sitting on your desk or hung on the wall, pictures will definitely go a long way in creating a homey feel. Also, take note that using a customized wallpaper on your computer monitor is also a great way to personalize the space. We go into detail on how to set up an animated wallpaper to complete your desk setup. Using rainmeter or wallpaper engine are two of the fastest ways to get this done.

At this point, it would also be worth considering taking a look at setting up a minimal desktop with rainmeter. Take a look at our comprehensive guide that guides on you to make the following desktops with your windows PC.

desktop setups
Another version of desktop setups

Paintings: Paintings and artwork from your favourite artist, prints of your favourite video game or artwork that you’ve created yourself will help complete your setup and give it that final touch of artistic flair. There are a number of sites where you can get your favourite wallpaper printed for your desk setups.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found some helpful tips for your minimal desk setups. Stay tuned for a more in-depth article and exploration of each section. If you enjoy this type of content please like, subscribe and join our mailing list to keep up to date.

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