The Minimalist Marketer – Part II

In part I of this series, I discussed the idea of CLEARING your bookshelves and removing distractions.

Since I’m on my “minimalist” kick – let’s continue with my office.

It’s no secret I spend every morning working from coffee shops (usually Starbucks), but I also have another “office”. It used to be a large 3-office suite with a conference room, but I ditched that last year. I’ll get into that in a future blog post (how I structure my minimalist marketing day).

For now, I’d like to focus on my DESK.

That’s right, a desk.

In my home office, I used to have a massive pottery barn desk system.

It had a corner desk with 6 drawers. Plus another longer desk which had another 6 drawers. The thing was huge and took up half of my small basement office. (yes, I have my office in the basement to escape the noise my 4 kids can make!).

And even after I spend hours cleaning the desk out, more stuff would find it’s way in eventually.

Papers. Letters. CDs…. Rubberbands? Thumbtacks? (I don’t even have a bulletin board so I have no idea why I would have thumb tacks!)


I went with a radical solution.

First, I went on craigslist and sold my massive desk.

Next, I created a “temporary” desk with a simple 6′ folding table. I already had the table at the house – and it cost around $30 or so.


It’s about as “no frills” as you can get. No drawers. Made of hard plastic with not an ounce of wood in sight.

And here’s the funny thing…

By limiting myself to the one surface – it FORCED me to reduce clutter.

Just my 27″ iMac and a small printer. And I’m getting rid of the printer soon.

When I started working from the “temporary” desk – I found myself even more focused. More productive. I loved it.

Now, this folding table has taken over and is my regular home-office desk.

So the next time you find yourself making excuses such as “well, I can’t get started until I have a fancy desk” or “I need new office space” – just know that it’s all in your head.

Be lean. Be agile. And be fast to the money.

Coach Lee.. out.


P.S. If you enjoyed this, please like, share and +1 it.

P.P.S. If you’d like to build a dream lifestyle business, let’s talk.

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  • […] I we cleared the clutter, Part II – I discussed my “desk”. Part III took a deeper look at my traveling office. Part […]

  • […] I of this ongoing series, I talked about clearing out the clutter. In Part II – I discussed my “desk”. And Part III took a deeper look at my traveling office. […]

  • […] I of this ongoing series, I talked about clearing out the clutter. In Part II – I discussed my “desk”. And Part III took a deeper look at my traveling […]

  • Danielle Mar 30,2013 at 12:24 am

    We have a small apartment, so my desk is a corner of our dining room table. It really forces me to cut clutter because I’m constantly moving my laptop around to different spots in the house. I try to go through junk mail/papers everyday to reduce pile up.

  • Frank Voce Mar 29,2013 at 6:15 am

    Have mixed feelings about this post, on the one hand I would like to reduce but then on the other hand I think I NEED a working space that looks like this . A proper desk ( nothing fancy though), a whiteboard, a pin board but you will prove me wrong ..

  • […] Part I of this ongoing series, I talked about clearing out the clutter. In Part II – I discussed my […]

  • Jacqlyn Mar 23,2013 at 1:46 am

    As usual, great post Ryan. My take on your post is, work out what works for you and do it! :)

  • Danny Howard Mar 19,2013 at 2:37 pm

    I totally agree Lee, I had an office for 3 years and found myself only going about 3 days in the week and working from home the rest.

    It also costs far to much with the rates and everything that comes with running an office. I’ve got rid of my 2 staff that I had and managed to hire virtual staff and the weird thing is, is that they do a better job and its less cost effective. And managing them is so much easier.


  • Yasmine Mar 18,2013 at 8:10 pm

    Right: I honestly have to say I could not work from a folding table. I have to agree with some others who commented that staying focused does not necessarily require to go to the very basics. I actually love to sit at my desk. It’s a L-Shape wooden desk and I have the most beautiful view from my window: I overlook a mountain range near Queenstown NZ and I really, really love this! I loose myself at times just looking outside and let my mind wander. This process actually fuels my motivation and helps me to do good things. So, sorry, Ryan – I’m not with you on this one… :-)

    thanks for sharing anyway!

  • Ann McDonald, Couture Chateau Mar 17,2013 at 11:31 pm

    Ryan, thank you!! My head is spinning, but am looking forward to turning the corner on this!! BTW: my office kitchen table, the one I’m working on now? an 18th century French Painted Farm Table….some things you can’t ask a Designer to give up ;)!! http://wp.me/a1WDMZ-ms

  • Ryan Mar 15,2013 at 8:58 pm

    I find that I’m more productive and focused at the coffee shop as well. Less things to get in the way of getting in the zone. Here’s my current view as I type this comment in. https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#A3G4TcsmGygQ3y;30B54B61-ACA6-4BC2-8F1C-961DEDAF49FB

  • James Mar 15,2013 at 3:20 am

    Good tips for the de-cluttering Ryan.
    Id honestly have to keep my note pad because ive a head like a bucket with a hole in it.lol
    Ive had so many great ideas that I didnt write down and now the are gone :(

    Anyways good post

  • Bee Mar 14,2013 at 8:44 pm

    As Albert Einstein once stated, “Three rules of work: out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

  • Alan Tutt Mar 14,2013 at 1:06 pm

    I have 2 desks. One is nothing more than a netbook which serves most of my needs wherever I happen to be.

    My other desk is a standard 30″x60″ wood desk (purchased from the Salvation Army many years ago for $25) in a 10’x12′ upstairs bedroom with 6 5-shelf bookcases, a color printer, and a 4′ work surface with disc duplicator and stack cutter.

    All of this is well organized with a very open feel, especially since the front of the desk is in the middle of the room with windows on both sides. (Yes, the desk sits at an angle to the room.) When I’m sitting at this desk, 4 bookcases are behind me, giving me instant access to anything I might need or want.

    This desk comes in handy when I’m working on a major project where I need to reference several sources at once. And the 2 monitors come in handy for all sorts of things, especially when working on video projects or working with multiple documents.

    For me, the whole minimalistic idea is good up to a point. But when it interferes with your ability to get a job done well, then it has gone too far.

    As KohPhiPhi mentioned above, being productive isn’t so much about the space around you as your ability to control your own mental processes.

    If you have trouble staying focused with “stuff” around you, then you might want to overcome that limitation.

  • Carol Gyzander Mar 14,2013 at 12:33 pm

    How about those desks that are placed over a treadmill?

  • Christian Finn Mar 14,2013 at 12:01 pm

    I’m a big fan of “getting to zero” at the end of the day after reading David Allen’s stuff… empty desk… empty e-mail inbox… nothing beats that empty inbox feeling!

  • Wayne (Joe) Evans Mar 14,2013 at 11:32 am

    “Be lean. Be agile. And be fast to the money”.

    ah-men to that!

    I am clutter free freak. From my time management training, I only have one piece of paper out on the desk/email open at a time! Works GREAT!!



  • Duru Mar 14,2013 at 11:07 am

    Great reminder to get rid of clutter Ryan!

    My desk has no drawers but I do prefer wood as it is more connected to the environment than plastic…

    Rock on the minimalist theme,


  • Michelle DeMarco Mar 14,2013 at 10:34 am

    What a great post!! I could totally relate! I work on my Mac either on a folding table, the kitchen table or even on the couch when I’m working at home.

    I love this concept of minimalist marketing!

  • Adam Levine Mar 14,2013 at 10:31 am

    all across the world thumbtacks got a chilling sensation down their spine!! Mine have no idea what’s coming tonight….Ryan Lee Style KAPOW!!

  • Ron McDaniel Mar 14,2013 at 10:27 am

    My only concern with your desk(and I agree with you generally) is ergonomics. That table may not be at the best height to be typing at.

    • Ryan Lee Mar 18,2013 at 9:32 am


      I have an adjustable desk that’s the perfect fit!


  • Anastasia Alston Mar 14,2013 at 10:18 am

    My “office” consists of a tatty old WalMart desk I’ve had since forever, my lap top & my DROID phone. I used to have one of those big, sprawling desk affairs but no more. I could never think of anything relevant to put on all that space so it ended up becoming a general junk collector. Kind of hard to focus when I’m surrounded by irrelevant junk! I plan to start trying out your coffee shop office idea next week, too. I’ve noticed I really do work better & am more relaxed when I can change up my environment. Thanks for the encouragement & insights, Ryan!

  • KohPhiPhi Mar 14,2013 at 9:57 am

    Err… wait a sec…. So are you saying that a spartan desk will boost your productivity ratios… really?

    Productivity is not in your desk, or your office, or your distractions. I work from my couch all day long without a problem. Productivity is in your brain, motivation, focus, etc.

    A “coach” should know that…

    • Ryan Lee Mar 18,2013 at 9:31 am

      What I’m saying is that it works for me – and it might work for others too.


  • Andy Iskandar Mar 14,2013 at 9:54 am

    I agree Ryan. Privately, I call this the Law of Expanding Stuff.

    The amount of stuff you own and hoard expands according to the amount of space you have. This applies to tables and drawers as well as houses.

    I have since gotten rid of a lot my of stuff.

    • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:35 am

      Hey Andy,

      It is amazing how it happens, isn’t it?

      That’s why I’m a fanatic about getting rid of things I don’t need.


  • Kerwin Mar 14,2013 at 9:50 am

    :). I’m mobile so my desk/office is in an airport, an airplane, a hotel room, my lap, you get the picture. Today it’s my friend’s couch in Germany.

    • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:34 am

      You are a mobile machine Kerwin.

      Always good to hear from you!


  • Jedd Johnson Mar 14,2013 at 9:46 am

    I have a question. I am planning on relocating my office into another room and I was thinking of using a folding table too. However, I was unsure if the chair would fit under the table right. Have you had any trouble with this?



    • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:33 am


      Make sure to get an ADJUSTABLE chair so it will fit perfectly.


  • Andrew Hiddleston Mar 14,2013 at 9:44 am

    Hey Ryan…

    I agree with David, this is a great series.

    The stand-up desk is also very interesting…I see a lot of people using them now. Not sure how well I would adjust to it, but I love the idea.


    • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Andrew – I’m glad you are enjoying this series.

      More to come…


  • David Dutton Mar 14,2013 at 9:33 am

    Hey Ryan

    Great series.

    Earlier this year I went to a stand-up desk. I really like it.It took a couple weeks of getting use to it but I then found myself using a chair maybe once every few days. I eventually just through the chair out.

    I am not sure I could give up all my books and resources BUT I love the fact that you donated yours to the local library. Somebody is going to read that material and it will change their life. You will have a part in that change.


    • Blaine Moore Mar 14,2013 at 11:20 am

      I set up a temporary standing desk last Summer on some old shelves in my basement. Not the most ideal layout but it worked well. Now, I’ve got a temporary shelf on my living room wall where I have to stand on a small stepladder to use it because my basement is too cold to work effectively and this works out great when my wife is out of the house and my daughter is in daycare, heheh. I just move to the dining room on days they are home and am looking forward to building a new standing station in a few months when it warms up enough to spend time in the basement again. Already got the legs and finished a slab of wood to use as a surface, so now I’m just waiting for the 4 feet of snow blocking my back door to melt and signify it’s time to get back downstairs.

      • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:32 am


        Why did I have a feeling you’d have a really interesting story about this.

        You rock!


    • Ryan Lee Mar 15,2013 at 9:26 am

      Hey Dave,

      Good to hear from you!

      I do lots of calls on my treadmill – i think more clearly and get the blood flowing.

      Keep rockin’

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