I have read that what you keep on your desk is very influential in how you work and your level of productivity. I am trying to optimise the way that I work (I am a terrible procrastinator), and am curious what other programmers' desks look like.

What do you have on your desk? Is there anything you deliberately avoid? There is no need to mention if you have things like computer, screen, mouse, keyboard, or speakers.

+1  A: 

A java branded hockey puck, box of splenda, and several pads of paper


Reading material for times when I'm waiting for some number crunching to complete.

Mr Fooz
+3  A: 

Picture of my wife, small christmas tree, and a fan.

Will Hartung
A Christmas tree in October...!?
Ian Nelson
+1  A: 

Notepad, and pen.

Snack food and soda is in one of my drawers.

A xkcd comic is on my cube wall, and tux sits on top of the wall as well.


A stack of paper with one side printed as draft paper and a pen cup so I can draw quick pictures/diagrams or simple notes.

Some cheat sheets such as VI commands.

Work calendar where I write down how many spare vacation hours I have left.

Fernando Miguélez

My coffee mug is probably the only non-technical thing I can see at the moment. I know a lot of people who keep photos of their friends and family on the walls of their cubes.

+1  A: 

I tend to have MP3 player and headphones, books, pen and paper and chewing gum on my desk.

The MP3 player and headphones are especially useful in open plan offices for getting some peace and quiet to relax.

The pen and paper are essential and the books I use for reference and for examples when discussing ideas.

"headphones" -- oops, did you see this: "excluding computer, screen, mouse, keyboard, SPEAKERS"
Windows programmer
+1  A: 

My Coffee Bucket...

It holds 2 large cups and keeps me sane during the day :-)

I also keep a pen & notepad for scribbling & a rubiks cube. I'm quite fidgety when I'm not typing so it keeps my hands busy.

Eoin Campbell
+2  A: 

Plants, why not having a office which looks like a forest? I just like it if the office isn't that empty so I put 3 or 4 plants and now it looks fine ;)

+1  A: 

A notebook, RedBull and Cheetos.

Christopher Nadeau
+13  A: 

A mug of tea.

Coffee is my poison of choice, but the mug is what matters ;)
+11  A: 

A glass of water, which I refill regularly.

Greg Hewgill
It really is a shame people don't realise that drinking water can increase concentration.
Especially when the water contains a colloidal suspension of camellia sinensis extract.
+1  A: 

Pencil, coffee cup, my Zune for podcasts/music/quiet, and lots of post-it notepads.

+5  A: 

I work at a toy company. :) My desk (and most peoples here) is a wonder to behold. :) I have everything from a squash raquet to an Iron Man head slurpee cup, Dragons of all sorts, Paul and Ringo (from the Beatles) figures, and numerous other action figures. It is a wonder I can find my keyboard.

where do you work?
Sure, I tell you and all of a suden we are flooded with resumes. :) I left it vauge for a reason. ;)
(Though your profile lists a website, which lists a resume, which lists where you worked in 2008... :)
Roger Pate
+4  A: 

Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets.

Nice!! I need some of those.
+1  A: 

Koziol scissors in a scissors holder with bug eyes on it - I don't cut things often, but it makes me happy. And the phone. Post-it notes with the non-sticky part cut off line the edge of my cubby/shelf thing with frequently used customer phone numbers on it.

Also directly in my line of sight, but not on my desk technically, are three design theory books on my right and a Tibetan drawing that is used for eyeball focusing exercises about once a day, next to a postcard of the Arc de Defense in Paris and below an Edward Tufte poster that I barely look at (There is no bullet list like Stalin's bullet list!)


Toothpaste and a toothbrush.
but that's only because I don't have drawers :(

+1  A: 

I used to have a whole army of action figures, but it got to be too many.. so they now battle on an adjacent table and I kept only 1 or 2 on the desk. I also have a magic 8 ball to answer difficult questions and an "easy" button.

Throw in assorted pictures and lots of shwag from trade shows (i.e. MIX) and that's about it.

+1  A: 
  • picture of my fiancée
  • mug for coffee
  • mug for tea
  • mug for water
  • mug for pens
  • headphones
  • several plants
  • calendar
  • a box of fishermans friends
  • paper, pens, eraser
+2  A: 
  • Headphones.
  • 3 of my 5.1 sound system speakers (left, front, right).
  • Mug for coffee, which my secretary refills several times a day).
  • 1 Litter of watter (refilled as needed).
  • Air Condition, Amplifier and Fan remote controls.
  • Cup for cigarret ashes.
  • Wireless phone.
  • Several magazines, prints and papers to read and enter into my private wiki.
  • Pos-it notes, clips, etc.
  • Tupperware with assorted candies.
  • Several balls to excercise my hands when thinking.
  • Paper pads.
  • Several puzzle toys. Used primarily as a mean to distract my visitors and stop them from wasting my time (works great! I just start playing with some of the toys for 2 minutes and then left it someshwere between myself and the visitor, almost every time they take the bait and get distracted, then I turn to my monitors and continue working).
You must have a big desk!
In what part of the world do they still allow people to smoke at their desk?
vmarquez is in México
Colin Pickard
@Don and @Colin - Mexico's laws does not allow to smoke at work places. It helps I have my own business and that I have a separate office for my own and private use, appart from the regular office where I receive visitors and employees ;)
@The.Anti.9, well yes, I do. I have one of those 3-sided desks surrounding me.
+11  A: 
I definitely need this!
Brandon DuRette
Saving roll! OMG, great!
random number generator ?
Great idea... gotta go find mine!
+1  A: 
  • Family pictures
  • Mug for drinks
  • Mug for pencils
  • Chinese spheres (the ones you rotate in your hand)
  • Water bottle
  • Burned CD with unknow content
  • Ear-plugs to eliminate noise
  • Car keys
  • Tea boxes
  • Small white-board (for dry-erase markers)
  • post-it notes

Whiskey, lots of glasses, a bottle opener, and a "That was easy" button from Staples.

Why are you looking at me like that?

I also keep a lint roller: we have dogs in the office, and their fur likes my clothes. It's probably something to do with me playing with them, too.

+2  A: 

Probably the only unique thing I have is a decoration/mirror in the form of a hard drive platter

Will Rickards
  • Fourier transform mini-fridge, with one of the nub feet missing cause I'm retro like that.
  • Default can of Diet Coke with Lime
  • As many Uniball Micro pens as I can manage to keep together at one time.
  • Small notepads
  • Hardwood carvings of seashells and a turtle from Belize
  • MS Lunch: a two-tier structure of lunch-packing wonder with can cooler bottom and a web-bottomed upper container for dry goods, black, with logo.
  • Coffee bullet
  • The Travelling Library
John Dunagan

Blue .75L SIGG water bottle, Arduino board (Plus spare ATMEGAs), latest copy of Cooks Illustrated, spare AA batteries for keyboard and mouse, and ER-6i headphones


Looking around (I have a big desk):

  • A bunch of pens in a holder and a notebook.
  • Several empty water glasses.
  • Books on CSS, jQuery, PHP, Time Management, Zen Mind Training, and the Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude.
  • A picture of my wife.
  • A blueprint of the house I want to build someday when all this pays off.
  • A big printer.
  • Computer speakers.
  • Two monitors and a spot for the third I will be getting soon.
  • A switchbox that spreads one of my monitors among three of the computers that live under the desk.
  • Tape, stapler, etc.
  • A cheerful looking sunflower coaster that I use for tea, coffee, etc.
  • Two phones and a cellphone charger.
  • A battery charger and a few eneloop bateries.
  • A cat claw clipper for the cat who sleeps on my nice warm printer all day.
  • A pink painted rock that my friend Carly gave me.
  • Lots of empty desk space, which relaxes me and makes me feel organized.
  • A big project calendar (paper).

I have a very large collection of bobbleheads, they are just fun to have around ,,,,


Plastic Fork or Spoon to fidget with.

  • Cup for Coffee
  • Glass for Water
  • 3 Notebooks
  • White Dwarf magazine (great conversation starter in an open plan office)
  • Golf Bag pen holder with pens.

A Glass of water, mug of tea, lamp, calulator, a small pumpkin, and of course a bunch of Star Wars Lego guys. "Let the source be with you!"

Michael Stum
+2  A: 

Hi! I always have my notepad and my mate(it helps to think!) and that's it...I try to keep things clean and organized...

Cheers from Argentina!

Mate is a necessary tool for Argentinian developers :)

A3 Notepad pencil (4H) pen (fibre-tip)


I simply have a stack of post-it notes and a pen. Though at my desk at home I have all sorts of random things to toy with while I'm thinking. Mainly a Lego AT-AP Walker. My desk at home is a horrid mess.

+2  A: 

Woah, hang on a minute, you're a procrastinator (like me), and you're posting a question on SO about what desk environment would make you less of a procrastinator? (Ok, so I'm even answering, but I say that with love, not hypocrisy).

My suggestion is to have something that means Discipline to you. That is almost certainly what you lack. Forget all the other things you're doing to un-procrastinate yourself, all the productivity stuff, all the GTD stuff for the moment. Just decide that today you will not mess about - on the internet or otherwise, not daydreaming, not chattering, not following your flitting distractions.

I have a post-it by my monitor that looks like this:



Meaning (without showing myself up to colleagues or the boss); Focus and Discipline. Focus on the task, be disciplined in working and maintaining organisation.

GTD won't help, there is no cool way to become focused, there is no career path that allows it (except career==null).

I say this because I know enough to know my shortcoming, and enough to know the rational path out, but I am still deep inside the pit. So, come back to SO at 5pm, and until then, Focus on the job in hand, and be Disciplined.

Don't just take it from me:

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments." - Jim Rohn

"It is one of the strange ironies of this strange life that those who work the hardest, who subject themselves to the strictest discipline, who give up certain pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest men. When you see 20 or 30 men line up for a distance race in some meet, don't pity them, don't feel sorry for them. Better envy them instead." - Brutus Hamilton

Phil H
I collect those types of quotes like "Focus on the task, be disciplined in working and maintaining organisazion" and "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments". Onder if there is a useful-quote-question on SO.. ;)
+1  A: 

A red stapler, although it occasionally goes missing...


I have some plants, an old 1918 Underwood typewriter (backup laptop!), some frog sculptures, cup of coffee, cup of water and a bunch of books.


I have a Levenger editor's desk in front of my monitor. I can keep reference material open in front of me. There's a handy pen rail at the bottom and the shelf above is useful to stick another book or some post-it notes.

It does mean my monitor is a few inches higher than most people's.

  • Notepad & pen
  • Coffee mug
  • Closed headphones

I generally keep a tennis ball on my desk to squeeze periodically to alleviate any hand cramps or aching. Anything to fend off carpal tunnel, even if just in spirit.

Evan Meagher
+3  A: 

A tissue roll!


I've a desktop telephone, several calendars (2) with important dates marked, friends & family portraits, famous phrases or jockes, LOTS of yellow-sticky notes, mug of coffee (always half filled :P), technical magazines,and a little pothus keeps my desktop with a "green" touch.

Andres Hojman

A bubble blower. I find blowing bubbles very pleasant and relaxing!


Remote for stereo An inbox file MERLIN poster Churchill Deserve Victory poster (I wrote underneath WE deserve victory OVER MANAGEMENT! Little alarm clock Spare laptop (very small which I use to display photos of family holidays

George Stokes