Slow Down at Work – The Perfect Office Desk Setup


Work desk illustration

Earlier this year, I began renting an office space in a nearby town. The reason was twofold: the first being that I needed some space from my needy dogs, and the second was to have more room to spread out. As my career has grown in writing, I’ve noticed that the small real estate I’ve carved out in the spare room just isn’t enough anymore. I have moved on from having my life being relegated to digital desktop files; I began to bring more and more of myself into the physical detritus that somehow becomes piles and piles of notebooks, Post-Its and scraps of papers.

My new office allows me to take up an enormous amount of room for the various assignments I’m working on at any given time. I have room to be messy, to sit and think. I can chew on the end of a pencil while I am deep in thought. I can scribble any passing idea into a nearby journal and hope it makes sense when I type it out properly. More often than not, I am playing basketball with the wastepaper bin. But it has all been a meditation in slowing down, allowing myself to get lost in thought, and surrounding myself in an environment designed for one thing and one thing only: to really get some work done.

Work desk illustration

I believe heartily in the philosophy of slowing down. I cook most of my dinners from scratch and take an hour to appreciate the process. I live on a farm and it seems that every day I take more moments to look out the window than I do at the ever-growing inbox on my phone. But somehow this same idea never quite translated to work. I spent the majority of my time working against a deadline instead of working towards a goal.

Now, writing comes much easier. So much of my workday is at a desk that allows for me to create instead of feeling cramped and anxious, dreading the next email coming my way. While my day may be a bit slower, with deadlines in flux and projects all going at once, having a space to center myself and think has helped keep the stress at bay. But it hasn’t been just a mindset shift—a few products helped to build the foundation of a set-up that has worked for me, personally and professionally.

Having the tableau set every day for me to come in, sit down and put my fingers to a keyboard makes my work that much easier. It’s a gentle nudge to start my day, and here are a few items that help when I sit at my chair in the morning, coffee in hand, ready to tackle my to-do list.

A Proper Pen

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen

Vanishing Point fountain pen,
$168 by Pilot

I know a fountain pen may not be for everyone, but I’m a fountain pen kind of guy myself. I enjoy the easy ink flow, the ritual of inkwells, and the springy feel of a nib against my notebook. The Pilot Vanishing Point is a great bridge for non-fountain pen users who want to try one out. The nib is retractable, sort of like a rollerball or ballpoint, giving you a familiar handfeel while still providing an exceptional writing experience. I’m a firm believer in writing by hand and taking a moment to get your thoughts organized and it’s that much easier when you’re using a pen that invites you to get it all out on paper-and enjoy doing it.

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen

Vanishing Point fountain pen,
$168 by Pilot

The Desk Caddy

If you’re looking to enter the world of slow living, then let Peg + Awl be your guide. Having created bespoke and heirloom products for more than a decade, they imbue old world charm into everyday products that are meant to be used. Their desk caddy is one such product. If you’re like me and accumulate pens, colored pencils, and the stray paperclip, then I can’t recommend this caddy enough. You can get it in four wood types (reclaimed heart pine, walnut, maple and blackened maple) and have it engraved as well. It’s one of those items that will move from office to office with you for years.

Peg + Awl Wooden Desk Caddy

Wooden desk caddy,
from $86 by Peg + Awl

A Serious Stapler

With this stapler, form definitely follows function. It’s a vintage design that’s as eye-catching as it is useful. While any stapler would work, there’s something impactful about having made space on your desk for beautiful objects. It’ll put you in the headspace to do some of your best work, even if it’s some boring administrative task you’ve been holding off all week.

Burke Decor Monograph Stapler

Monograph stapler,
$50 at Burke Decor

The Jotter Pad

Ettinger Leather Jotter

Leather jotter (with paper),
$130 by Ettinger

As the name implies, this pocket-sized notebook has an exposed notepad on one side and a pocket on the other, making it perfect for quick scribbles between meetings or while you’re on the move. I particularly like to use this in place of Post-Its or to jot down a quick reminder when the thought strikes me. Refillable and made of genuine leather, it’ll last for years.

Ettinger Leather Jotter

Leather jotter (with paper),
$130 by Ettinger

A Desk Shelf

Grovemade’s products have a way of blending into any style of office you may have—contemporary or more rustic, this desk shelf feels right at home. I like the Dual Monitor stand, just for the added real estate of the shelf, giving me more room to stack some notebooks and various scraps of paper while I’m typing away at my desk.

Grovemade Walnut Desk Shelf

Walnut desk shelf,
$260 by Grovemade

A Zippered Portfolio

Because I move from my home to my work office a few times a week, this zippered portfolio has become a necessity for me to keep my papers and notebooks together. It has a generous interior pocket for all the pens, pencils, and notebooks I take around with me, with specially designed loops to keep everything in place. The leather itself, sourced and crafted in Turkey, has a beautiful patina after extended use, making it a dream to carry around every day and lets you appreciate the beauty of craftsmanship in our increasingly digitized age.

Galen Leather Co. A5 Folio

Leather A5 folio,
$119 by Galen Leather Co.


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