Creating an Ideal Desk Setup for Small Spaces

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Configuring a desk area with limited space can be a daunting task. Whether you are alternating between in-office and at-home work, downsizing, or going away to school, having a functional desk setup is essential to productivity. Fear not, dear reader, a small desk doesn't need to be a problem—with some intention and a bit of finessing, you can cultivate a sleek, functional, and beautiful setup without compromising on quality. 

Do Away with Your Monitor Base 

If you find yourself constantly shifting your monitor around to make room on your desk, it is time for you to get a desk mount. The versatile Ergotron LX Desk Mount Monitor Arm will declutter your already limited desk space by exchanging your display base with an arm that floats the monitor instead. This mount supports displays up to 25 lb and 34" by connecting to the edge of your desk via your choice of a two-piece clamp, low-profile clamp, or grommet mount. The arm itself features integrated cable management to tuck away your monitor cables safely, and it’s very easy to set up. 

Ergotron LX Desk Mount Monitor Arm

Ergotron LX Desk Mount Monitor Arm

While the streamlined effect itself is gorgeous, this upgrade also has the potential to transform the way you interact with your setup because it fosters a more flexible and accommodating working experience. You can tilt, rotate, and extend your monitor if you tend to alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day. For a student in a small dorm, this mount is a choice gadget for making a monitor more functional as both a traditional desktop piece and a TV. 

Pare Down Your Wiring 

Cable management is an essential part of keeping clutter at bay; unruly wires can become stressful and even unsafe in your workspace. We delve into this topic in depth with some solid tips for cable concealment, storage, and consolidation here but, for this article, we will be highlighting a few reliable and consistent Bluetooth options to minimize superfluous cables on your desk. 

The first is the Logitech Lift Vertical Ergonomic Wireless Mouse. This mouse is wireless via a Logi Bolt USB or Bluetooth and is powered by a single AA battery. It also houses its own Bluetooth receiver, so you do not have to worry about losing it if you are clutter-prone. Pairing this device is a near-seamless experience, but what really makes the Lift special is its design. Logitech repositioned the traditional features of a flat mouse to a 57-degree angle, meaning your hand will be oriented as if you are reaching for a handshake. While this might sound odd, the payoff for the small adjustment is completely worth it. The mouse’s design and velvet-soft textured grip keeps your wrist comfortably lifted away from your desk to alleviate forearm strain. It also features supple, quiet clicks to elevate your workflow. 

Logitech Lift Vertical Ergonomic Wireless Mouse

You might consider matching your Lift with the Audioengine A2+ Wireless Bluetooth Speaker System. Among the seemingly endless deluge of Bluetooth speakers, the A2+ is a stand-out option in form and function by incorporating the flexibility of a Bluetooth speaker system without being pill-shaped or handled. It retains the appearance of a traditional speaker system while being compact enough to fit comfortably on a small desk. But don’t let the size of this system fool you; it delivers a listening experience that is truly exceptional, especially with such a small footprint. 

Audioengine A2+ Wireless Bluetooth Speaker System (Hi-Gloss White, Pair)

Audioengine A2+ Wireless Bluetooth Speaker System 

The catch for this system is that it is not entirely wireless; all inputs are plugged into the left speaker while the right speaker connects with a speaker wire. However, configuring this system requires a minimal number of wires and is straightforward enough for a newbie without sacrificing the adjustable hardware to please a more experienced user. For the small compromise of finagling the wiring, the A2+ will deliver superb sound quality and complete the appearance of your small desk.   

Wireless charging pads and stations are another elegant alternative for wire reduction. If you have scoured the Internet and found yourself disappointed with the array of thoughtless and somewhat cheap-looking docks, the Belkin BOOST CHARGE PRO 3-in-1 15W Wireless Charger with MagSafe might be your multifunctional and aesthetically pleasing answer. This is an Apple-compatible charging station that enables you to charge your iPhone simultaneously alongside your Apple Watch and AirPods. It can be configured in either portrait or landscape orientation and delivers an exceptionally fast charge. Like the previous products, the Belkin BOOST has the potential to change your workflow on a small desk space because it eliminates the clumsiness and frustration of charging cables. Additionally, if you tend to lose your phone, watch, or AirPods, this station can be an excellent place to rest your tech when you are not using it.  

Belkin BOOST CHARGE PRO 3-in-1 15W Wireless Charger with MagSafe

Belkin BOOST CHARGE PRO 3-in-1 15W Wireless Charger with MagSafe

Focus on Desktop-Specific Accessories  

Consolidating your tech gear is integral to making a small desk manageable. For a burgeoning streamer, podcaster, video conferencer, or musical artist, building the perfect audio set is already challenging without the additional space constraints. The compact and reasonably priced AT2020 USB+ Desktop Pack from Audio-Technica is a well-rounded solution. This B&H exclusive kit includes the AT2020USB+ microphone, a reflection filter, tabletop microphone stand, and pop filter.  

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB+ Desktop Pack Kit

Audio-Technica AT2020 USB+ Desktop Pack Kit

A quick glance at the kit will reveal an assemblage that is beautiful in its simplicity. The microphone itself houses its own headphone amp and records straight to your computer, allowing you to forgo the complications of an audio interface, a mixer, or even speakers. The included RFDT-128 desktop reflection filter and OMPF-33 pop screen work in tandem to deliver a recording that is smooth and professional-grade—even in an untreated room. Overall, the setup for this kit is incredibly easy and completely adjustable. The only caveat here is the somewhat flimsy microphone stand. However, for the excellent value of the kit, this is an easy fix.  

This robust audio configuration would not be complete without a headphone stand. The Headphones Holder from Auray is a nifty little gadget that minimizes the clutter of having big, bulky headphones on your desk. It latches onto the side of your workspace and hangs over, securely holding your headphones below via a threaded clamp and padded cradle. This holder is a small device that will make a significant difference in your daily workflow; designating space for your tech helps your setup look more complete while making organization a passive task.  

Auray Headphones Holder with Padded Cradle and Adjustable Angle

Auray Headphones Holder with Padded Cradle and Adjustable Angle

Overall, it is best to approach your small desk with function and consolidation in mind. Investing in products that are intended for limited space, especially those that integrate the functions of other products, is an excellent practice to begin your setup on the right foot. Limiting the number of wires on your desk and adding holders can do wonders for maintaining a tidy workspace. If you have additional recommendations for managing a small desk area, please send them our way in the Comments section, below.

2 Comments

Thank you for this article, Rebecca. I'll be returning to school soon for a graduate degree, and I'll need all the help I can get transitioning back to a student lifestyle (on a student budget!) after several years as a working adult. Your tip on articulating arms for a display is a great one, especially your observation that such arms can help one display do double-duty for personal schoolwork/family entertainment.

My two favorite accessories are a keyboard drawer/shelf and some garage/workshop style pegboard. I've had desks with and without keyboard drawers, and there is no contest: a drawer keeps me tidy and effective. I simply cannot resist the temptation to pile envelopes and clutter on my keyboard unless it is tucked out of sight.
Pegboard lets one "go vertical" and attach hooks or even light shelving to a small desk. The many small holes also allow more ambient light in while keeping one a bit more focused on work.

Hi Artie! My tip for the articulating arm comes from personal experience with my own desk set up 😊 I totally agree with you on the keyboard drawer and pegboards, both make for a more modular and flexible workspace. I am also a huge fan of monitor shelves, especially if you don’t have the time or patience to install a monitor arm or keyboard drawer – they free up space to nest your keyboard when you are not using it. Thank you for your comment and your thoughtful recommendations!