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Desktop Spotcheck November 2011

home office

Last week my PC broke so i took the opportunity to fine tune my work space. The basic layout never changes but i do always try to move things about to either making them easier to use or harder to use…

Making stuff harder to use

On every desk, things fall in to one of two categories;

  • Clutter producers
  • Clutter reducers

My printer used to sit on my desk until i decided it was a ‘clutter producer’ in that it (a) took up space (b) printed out sheets that weren’t always 100% necessary. So i moved the printer to the other side of the room to stop myself impulse printing.

This time, i’ve done the same only with writing space. I consider writing space to be a ‘clutter producer’. The space itself isn’t clutter, but the pens & paper in the vicinity are. I don’t want to have dedicated writing space. Unless the electricity is off or all of my computers break down at once, any ideas or thoughts can be and *should be* captured digitally. It takes 2 seconds to open up notepad and start typing, plus i can actually read what i write. These days i’m so out of practice with my handwriting that even i can’t read what i’m writing 🙂

So my old writing space has now been replaced by a monitor and a graphics tablet which i’ve previously never really used that much. Both of those things are clutter reducers because they take up a fixed amount of space but allow me to create an unlimited amount of digital crap – so they’re the good guys, the clutter reducers.

I’ve pulled all 3 monitors closer to me and angled them more towards me so that they’re wrapped around my peripheral vision. I can’t escape from lcd screens. If i want to write something down on paper, i have to go out of my way to do it. It’s hassle. The net result will be less notes & crap lying around on the desk. Virtual crap on a desktop is just as annoying but much easier to manage and destroy.

Making stuff easier to access

Up until now, my PC was almost hidden from view behind a monitor. Now it’s still hidden but just not as much. Put it this way – it would take me about 5 seconds to open up my PC, without having to get up from my chair. Up until now, it’d probably take a minute or so, plus i’d have to get up and fiddle with wires / make sure not to over-stretch some. So this has been a victory for my PC… i’ll still never open it up but at least now i might think about it a bit more. If it sounds / looks dusty i may open it up and clean it.

Also, despite the great advances in the front end design of desktop PCs (having usb slots there), i’ve come to the conclusion that the best position for a ‘tower’ PC isn’t facing directly towards you or the end of the desk at a 90 degree angle. It’s at a 45 degree angle facing away from you. Why?

Because we’re using cds /dvds less and less. Really, that’s the only thing the back of a computer doesn’t have. Mine happens to have a card reader at the front, so i use that regularly. However, i notice i spend a good bit of time at the back of the PC too, fiddling with wires. So i decided to basically turn the computer neither towards me or away from me… it’s almost sideways at a 45 degree angle as i look at it so that there isn’t a ‘front’ or a ‘back’. You can see what i mean in the photo above (my PC is over on the left).

If i want to get at either end, i don’t have to physically move the tower around, i just have to stretch a bit more. Another benefit of this is that the fan at the back of the PC can blow hot air in to more space, it’s not in as confined an area as it was before.

So they’re my latest workstation tips & tricks. Going to great lengths to work out how to reduce physical strain, physical clutter & making things more efficient, all so i can make myself more comfortable watching videos on youtube and wasting time away on Facebook 🙂

Sean MacEntee

Web Developer. Technology Addict. Swimmer. Man Utd Fan. Writer. Designer.