Transforming a Workspace From Desktop to Laptop Computing

MacBookLast spring, I bought my first Mac laptop to replace my aging Windows laptop. Mac fans may say the result was predictable: My shiny new MacBook quickly became my primary computer while my desktop PC gathered dust.

That change left me with one problem I hadn’t anticipated, though. My office wouldn’t function as well with a laptop as my primary computer. I had to rethink the whole layout. How did just changing from a desktop PC to a smaller MacBook manage to make my office totally dysfunctional?

Utilizing a keyboard tray and a small tower (especially one not stored on the desk), a desktop computer has a relatively small footprint on a desk compared to a laptop computer. In my case, I kept the monitor to use as an external monitor for my new MacBook, so that still used space. The only desktop space I cleared out was the footprint of the slimline CPU tower. The back of my narrow desk was cluttered with items like an external hard drive and my phone. Even with the CPU gone, I could barely wedge my MacBook onto the desk’s surface.

Having a laptop as my primary computer also left me wanting something I’d never wanted in my office before: a sitting area. I like using my laptop as, well, a laptop, when I don’t feel the need for the second monitor or other desk functions. I find it is more ergonomically comfortable, and I concentrate better. A comfy chair and ottoman in my office would mean that I wouldn’t have to use the living room couch with its attendant distractions to work laptop-style.

It took some creativity but I figured out how to relieve the desktop congestion and fit a sitting area in the room.

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The first key was angling my desk into a corner and filling the “dead space” that was created behind it with the printer cart to create more desk surface area. (The wireless printer itself moved into my husband’s office.) This let me push the backup hard drive back off of the main desktop, and I can also push the phone and other external devices back there when I need the desk space.

The middle shelf of the cart holds two plastic containers that function as “drawers”, for computer cleaning supplies and office supplies. The bottom shelf holds my power strip and battery back-up unit, keeping them off of the dusty carpet.

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Moving the printer cart, along with archiving files and retiring a file cabinet, created enough open space to create my sitting area. A hand-me-down chair along with an Ikea ottoman and lamp created my second, more casual, work area. As I sit there, I have a power strip and my file cabinet to my right. On my left is my reference bookcase.

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Some other nice features that the new layout added:

  • The second monitor can be turned to be visible from the scrapbook table next to my work desk.
  • Switching my desk to the other side of the room’s window improved my view.
  • My scrapbook supplies are in my line of vision more often, reminding this workaholic to take a break and relax more often.

Still on my wishlist for my new space is a second MacBook power cord that can be left permanently at my desk while I have the other one for mobile use.

Have you switched to a laptop as your primary computer? What workspace adjustments did you have to make?

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