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What's in my desk? — Nathan Baker

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What's in my ... ?

May 5 · Issue #101 · View online

Each week, one interesting person shares four favorite things in their bag or in their desk or fridge or closet or wherever they keep things.


I’m a software engineer, writer, maker, and huge Tolkien nerd. As is true for many makers, I’m fanatical about the tools I use. I’m happy to share a few of my own go-to solutions for common life problems! — Nathan Baker

About the desk
I’ve been working from home since March of last year. My home study is not large enough for two full-size desks, so one of my first pandemic projects was building a second desk for myself. That way I could guarantee it would fit precisely in the space I had available and could maximize surface area and minimize cost and wasted space. The only tool I needed was a drill, and I was able to pick up all the supplies I needed at Home Depot. It paid off that I did my homework beforehand … knowing the exact lengths of 2x4s I needed, they were willing to cut them for me.
What's in the desk
reMarkable 2 ($399)
This writing tablet has dramatically decreased my clutter and increased my organization. Billed as the “world’s thinnest tablet”, it does one thing very well: hand-written documents (ok, it actually does two things well: hand-written documents and annotating PDFs, but I don’t use the latter functionality). Thanks to this device, I no longer find myself scrabbling through endless sheets of paper trying to find the one I took those all-important notes on.
For stuff that I know I’m going to write down and then throw away, these cheap 5x8 writing pads can be bought in bulk. I put them everywhere in my house — I’m rarely out of arm’s reach of one. For jotting down quick thoughts, making temporary lists, doodling, or a hundred other tasks, these are my go-to.
I grew up being told not to waste paper, so I learned to write very small. As a result, I like very, very fine points on my pens. And I absolutely require my pens to write the first time — no scribbling in the margins to get the ink flowing. I carry one of these pens in my pocket everywhere I go, and I keep a couple of them close at hand in my desk drawer.
I found these in Recomendo issue 223, and they are the perfect addition to my simple, homemade desk. If I find myself needing to store more things than can fit in one of these sliding pencil drawers, I know I need to take some time to declutter. They have a simple adhesive on top that, once stuck, has not failed me yet, and though I’m quite tall they don’t hang down low enough to hit my knees when I swivel in my chair.
What's in your ...?
We want to hear about unusual and unusually useful items that you have in your desk, bag, closet, fridge or where ever you keep things. It can be anything really: work bag, pantry shelf, beauty drawer, toolbox, etc. Start by sending an email to claudia@cool-tools.org with a photo of the things in your chosen space (you can use your phone). If you get a reply from us, fill out the form. We’ll pay you $50 if we run your submission in our What’s in my …? newsletter and blog.
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