Most of us keep more on our desks than our laptops, monitors, and keyboards. Gamers will have a high-end microphone and / or camera, not to mention their various consoles and keyboards; tech enthusiasts will have video setups, Stream Decks, and multiple monitors; and many of our desktops are covered with a variety of stuff, anything from a bullet journal and a favorite mug to a cool windup toy.
We asked the staff of The The Hamden Journal what they keep on their desks. Here are some of the answers we got.
Years ago (more than I care to remember), a freelance writer who was both excellent at her craft and one of the nicest people I’ve known gave me a holiday gift: a wooden pen holder from Levenger that had a quote on the side from H.G. Wells: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” I’ve kept that on my desk at home ever since because it is a perfect place to keep my better pens, because it reminds me of my friend, and because it makes me laugh — as an editor, I know how true that quote is. – Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor
Amazon Echo Spot
Don’t laugh — I still use the OG Amazon Echo Spot from 2017. It has a cute and friendly clock face but doesn’t take up nearly as much space as some other smart alarm clocks do. It cycles between showing me the weather, the time, and the news, which are really the only things I need the clock at my desk to be displaying. It plays my music library if I need a quick pick-me-up. And if I need something from Alexa, Alexa is at my beck and call.
I’m sure the comments section will point out that there is actually such and such other alarm clock I could be using instead that offers those same benefits, but shhh. I like my old Echo Spot. – Monica Chin, senior reviewer
The latest Echo has a spherical build and offers better sound quality than the previous iteration.
Like many people, I struggle to get through the dark winter months in my home office. My in-laws gifted me a full-spectrum light for my desk, designed to mimic sunlight and help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — though, as SAD lamps are not FDA regulated, I can’t swear to its actual medical benefits. But a surprise bonus is that my SAD lamp makes for incredibly flattering Zoom lighting, like being bathed in an influencer ring light. – Helen Havlak, publisher
Light therapy lamp that delivers up to 10,000 lux with three brightness levels, two color temperature options, and a convenient countdown timer.
Wooden etched tweet
I’ve written about this before, but my all-time favorite desk accessory is my wooden tweet. I chose to get mine in honor of what I consider the best tweet of all time: Post Malone’s legendary “is meatball an fruit” tweet from 2018. It’s a fun conversation starter, sure, but it also reminds me every day as The The Hamden Journal’s audience manager to only take social media so seriously. – Kaitlin Hatton, audience manager
Tweets etched in wood.
Anchor under-desk headphone hanger
I gave this a try for one of our TikTok videos, and it has not disappointed me yet. I use it to hold my Razer Kraken headset and some extra cords. It’s small enough to remain out of the way but large enough to hold more than the headset itself. It has a pretty strong hold and doesn’t give, even as I raise my standing desk up and down several times a day. It’s not the prettiest accessory one can attach to their desk, but it is highly functional. – Kaitlin Hatton
An under-desk dual headphone hanger that uses 3M adhesive for mounting and an included Velcro strap to anchor a headphone cable.
Google Nest Hub
As a smart home reviewer, I have a lot of smart speakers and smart displays in my home. But the only one that gets a permanent spot on my desk is the Google Nest Hub (first-gen, without a camera). Ever since I got this smart display way back in 2018, it’s been a staple there thanks to its matte screen that provides glanceable info without being distracting. I use it as a clock primarily — its full-screen clock display is easy to read out of the corner of my eye when on a video call. It’s also useful as a Pomodoro-style timer — I can set a 40-minute timer with a voice command to crack on with some focused work. But perhaps my favorite feature is that I can connect it to a video doorbell, so when someone comes to the front door, I can see and talk to the visitor without having to get up from my desk. – Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, reviewer
The second-gen Nest Hub is Google’s smallest smart display, with a seven-inch touchscreen that can automatically adjust itself to the lighting in your room. What’s new in the latest version is its ability to automatically track your sleep patterns with its Soli radar chip.
Retro kitchen timer
I also love the Pomodoro method, and I sometimes even remember to use it. My office contains a dozen devices that can set a 25-minute timer, but they can also do a thousand other (distracting) things. Even Pomodoro apps do too much.
This retro-looking analog kitchen timer has lived on my desk for five years. It’s just a timer. It ticks while it’s counting and ends with a hideous mechanical ring, like the alarm clocks of yore. No bleeps, no bloops, no notifications, and no mistaking it for anything else. It’s perfect. – Nathan Edwards, senior reviews editor
Kitchen timer with retro design that goes up to 55 minutes.
Belkin “BoostCharge” 3-in-1 wireless charger
I got this as a birthday present from my partner this year after several months of arguing over our sleeping arrangements. Something about me trailing the charging cables for my devices in the bed being “dangerous” and “extremely uncomfortable”… Anyway, after begrudgingly acknowledging my poor charging habits, I have to admit that having this on my desk has had benefits outside of not garroting myself mid-slumber.
My iPhone, Apple Watch, and wireless earbuds rarely run out of juice, as I no longer fall asleep before plugging them in. I’ve also taken to using the charger’s upright positioning for phones to my advantage — serving as a desk clock, a tiny display for Slack or Discord, and as a hub to remotely control the various smart devices around my home. It helps me separate the device from being my phone and instead helps me build the habit of it being another tool to boost my productivity. – Jess Weatherbed, news writer
Charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at once with this three-in-one charging dock.
I have been working on setting up a second desk at my home, and in the process, I now have two different desk mats that I love. Keeb-heads (keyboard enthusiasts) swear that a desk mat improves the sound of their mechanical keyboards, and while it may make some small faintly audible difference, a desk mat is just a fun way to decorate and personalize your space — and they’re cooler than just a standalone mouse pad.
Desk mats have become fairly ubiquitous, so if you’re partial to certain styles or themes (geometric, space, cute stuff, superheroes, anime, gaming, etc.), you can probably find something you like out there. Some sites and small vendors include desk mats as part of limited-run group buys, so you can get something quite unique, but there’s plenty of cool stuff on offer all the time at Amazon, Aliexpress, or sites that sell keyboard stuff. Just be aware that for every cool design there are probably just as many ultra-cringey ones — some of which venture into a weird obsession with orientalism. (Not everything needs to have katakana on it, folks!) So yeah, maybe steer clear of that, but find the right size and design for your space, preferably 3mm or thicker so it doesn’t feel cheap and thin. – Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer
A fun mouse pad that will fit a gaming mouse, full-size keyboard, and other items.
Listen, I work from home, and sure, there are other benefits — no commute, for instance — but even as I am typing this, the cat has sat down in my lap, after walking back and forth behind my monitor several times. She is purring. You may think, but I am a dog person, and dogs are fine, too, but they aren’t going to get on your desk unless you screwed up somewhere. Also, in my experience, they are less likely to walk all over your keyboard and send odd Slack messages. I could tell you that pets lower blood pressure and may have other health benefits, but who cares, honestly. Get you a little buddy, and I promise it’ll make work better and funnier. – Elizabeth Lopatto, senior reporter