Is there still a desk in your life? It seems as if the need for the specific piece of furniture that functions solely as a desk has passed.  Succession-like corner offices with massive power desks now feel like those rooms full of old furniture in museums  that people rarely visit. Most of us have a version of a desk in our pocket, aka our smart phone. Remote work has also changed the nature of the desk significantly. Still, there are some productivity and organizational tools we can glean from the old 9 to 5 immobile desk.

Wherever you’re working, your work space should be like a cockpit in an airplane, with everything you need within arm’s reach. If you’re in work mode, you will want a trash can, a recycle bin, your computer or phone, a printer, paper, pens and your in-box. If you have file cabinets nearby or a file box that you can work out of until you can do your filing, that is a bonus. If you’ll be filing you will need folders and a label maker too.

During the pandemic shelter-in-place I moved my office into my closet so that I could use my old office as a workout space. I do my filing and printing in the closet, but it’s not where I work. Since I no longer have a traditional desk, I work at the dining table. This means I have to have a cache of supplies that I can move easily from place to place. Currently I’m using a simple tote bag, but for people with a lot of supplies I’ve set them up with rolling carts that can be found on amazon for about $35.

Whether you are using a bag, a cart or have an actual desk, keep it free of excess, unnecessary stuff. Get rid of the gum wrappers, golf pencils, old cough drops and expired driver’s licenses.

Your phone or computer are now probably your calendar, your address book, your file cabinets and your photo albums. You’ve got a dictionary, a thesaurus, encyclopedias, phone books, maps and practically any reference materials you could wish for; more than the corner office so envied for decades on end could ever physically hold in its mahogany bookshelves.

For Zoom meetings and things, think about what you might want to have as if you were stuck at a traditional desk. A beverage. A coaster. A sweater. Your chair should still be as comfortable and as supportive as possible. Task lighting is still essential, and you might want a ring light if you are a featured speaker at a zoom meeting.

A good WiFi signal is absolutely necessary for making today’s desk effective. Unless you are actually putting pen to paper and working offline, there’s nothing more annoying than a spotty WiFi signal when you’re trying to get some work done.

When I started in the wine business in the late 1980s, sales people would bring samples to restaurants and retail shops, then find a phone booth on the street to call in their orders. Rain or shine. Now thanks to smart phones, at least people can have dry and fairly luxurious little offices in their cars. A file box to do filing while out and about rather than at the end of the day when you’re tired is a good idea. A small tote bag with lots of dividers in it or a tackle-type box is a good solution for some supplies like extra pens, sticky notes, binder clips, paper clips, a labeler and label tape, and anything else you might need on the road to stay organized is great. If you leave the sorting and organizing for when you get home, it is less likely to get done.

It’s good practice to learn to be flexible and mobile. You might even decide you don’t need a home office and would rather create a gym or guest room or finally get the desk and papers out of your bedroom. We often hold on to a bunch of unneeded office supplies (we paid for them after all) and therefore the room and cupboards they are stored in are held hostage. Your desk can be wherever you decide to work and the space where it used to be could be free to accommodate something new and amazing.