If you are anywhere interested in computer workspaces, you may have heard of the term “clean setup”. But what actually is a “clean” setup?

I believe that a “clean” setup is a computer workspace that is free from unnecessary items that are not essential for productivity, or does not add any aesthetic value to the area. These workspaces are also known as minimalistic workspaces.

You might be thinking: “Clean setups are too clinical and boring”. It is true, some minimalistic look very bland and devoid of life. However, if done well, a minimalistic workspace can appear to be very lively despite the lack of items. Minimalistic does not have to mean boring and lifeless, in fact, it can actually be quite the opposite.

Now that we know what minimalistic workspaces are, what are the benefits of having a minimalistic workspace?

One of the greatest benefits I see in having a minimalistic workspace is an increase in the efficiency of one’s thought process. Our minds are often cluttered with lots of things, be it meetings, appointments, assignments, etc. The last thing we need is the sight of physical clutter obscuring your thinking. Although you may not believe it, physical clutter can actually turn out to be mental clutter. Most people when faced with a mess feel very irate and this can cloud one’s judgement. Having a minimalistic setup can prevent the clouding of one’s judgement, and you’ll notice a significant difference in the quality of your thinking and your work as soon as you unclutter your workspace.

Another benefit of having a minimalistic workspace is that it is aesthetically pleasing. A well-designed minimalistic workspace can make you feel content while working at your workspace. If one feels good about what they are doing, the quality of the work produced is much higher. Building a workspace that you find joy to work in can entice you and lift your mood and spirits in the space, again leading to better quality work as well as a better overall feeling.

With the benefits I believe that can come from having a minimalistic workspace, some of you may be agreeing with me and wondering how to actually design and create a minimalistic workspace in order to improved your productivity. In fact, it is actually really simple to create a minimalistic and productive workspace.

Desk

Choose a desk that is consistent with the overall theme of the space. Good choices here are white, black or wooden textured desks. Do note that white desks can be a huge pain in the ass to maintain and will require constant cleaning. Your desk should be deep enough such that your arms can rest comfortably on the desk while typing. It should also be wide enough such that you do not get the feeling that your space is extremely cramped.

Display

Go with an ultrawide 21:9 monitor of at least 29 inches. If that is not possible, purchase 1 monitor, at least 27 inches, 2 monitors, at least 24 inches each, or 3 monitors, at least 23 inches each. Ensure that the monitors are all the same model or you will find it a bit strange having different monitors. I used to have 3 different monitors of 3 different sizes and brands, and they look really strange on my desk. Currently, the LG 29WK500-P is the ultrawide monitor I’m using. It features a 29″ IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1080 as well as a refresh rate of 75Hz and it has the same pixel density as my old 23″ 1920 x 1080 monitor.

Display mounting

Try to purchase monitors that are VESA mountable as this can free up a large amount of space on your desk. By mounting your monitors on a mount, you eliminate the need for a monitor stand on your desk and thus you have more space. I have no specific recommendation for monitor arms, just pick one that suits your monitor(s). A gas spring based mount may be more suitable for your application if you like to frequently move your monitor around.

Audio

Speakers consistent with your theme are highly recommended. If your desk space is very small, try to purchase a monitor with built in speakers, or use headphones. I’m currently using a Sony home theatre system as I am able to control it with my custom HomeKit enabled infrared blaster. Speakers good with white themed setups are the AudioEngine A2+. Cheap speakers can work fine too if you are just playing lowfi music with the speakers and are not trying to produce music or any other audio sensitive work.

Keyboard

If you plan to use your workspace a lot, a nice mechanical keyboard is almost a must as it makes typing really satisfying. Besides that, a well-built mechanical keyboard can easily last 20 years, which means you will not need to replace it in a really long time (unless of course, you spill your drink on it or something, but more on that next time).

A smaller keyboard will take up less desk space and can make your setup look even more minimalistic, but if those extra keys are needed, you should not give them up in favour of aesthetics. The goal of the workspace is to be productive, and aesthetics are secondary to that.

Ergonomic keyboards are really useful if you do a lot of typing (programmers) but can hinder your workflow if you use your keyboard for things like macros. They are also not cheap, so that is something to keep in mind when purchasing one.

Wireless keyboards can help greatly in reducing clutter on your desk but are not essential.

A keyboard wrist rest can be used if you find that you tired out easily from hovering your hands while typing. However, take note that you should use wrist rests to rest your palms and not your wrists, because resting your wrists while moving your fingers can damage sensitive nerves in your wrist.

If you do not wish to hover your hand above the keyboard while typing and you also would not like to use a wrist rest, consider a low profile keyboard. These keyboards are a lot shorter than their heftier cousins. However, do be aware that the low profile means that the switches will be exposed and you’ll be able to see below the keycaps. If you do not like this look, avoid going for low profile keyboards.

Mouse

Wireless mice look cleaner than wired mice. Other than that, just pick a mouse that is comfortable.

Desk accessories:

These are some desk accessories that you may choose to have:

  • Smartphone Dock
  • Smart speaker (Google Home, Echo dot etc.)
  • Table lamp
  • Ambient Lighting (Usually an LED strip stuck behind the table)
  • Fake plant – Adds greenery to the workspace
  • Desk mat – Separates your keyboard and mouse from the rest of the table. Also adds contrasts, and allows you to put drinks on it.

Conclusion

This concludes my post on achieving a minimalistic setup. I hope you found it helpful!