Top 10 Best Cheap Desk Upgrades for Productivity

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Sometimes, you need a little pick-me-up when you’re not hitting your target to-dos. How about cheap desk upgrades to boost your productivity?

You don’t have to travel far from your seat to get the creative juices flowing for your work tasks. You can just switch things up a bit for a faux change in scenery. Nothing too fancy or too expensive. In fact, we have a bonus item recommendation at the end of this article that can do wonders for your problem-solving skills in general. So, make sure to keep an eye out for that.

Ready to shop for a cheap upgrade for your work setup? Let’s go!

1. A Proper Chair

When we said you wouldn’t need to leave your desk, we meant it. Now, how will this upgrade help you enter deep work mode?

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A proper chair will keep you comfortable while working long hours to finish a task. Think about ergonomics and your back that’s been aching from time to time. Not only does pain affect your mood, but it also diminishes your productivity. 

How about this Flexfit Hyken Mesh Task Chair? It’s decent-looking and can keep you comfortable while working for up to 10 hrs. If you’re looking for a more affordable chair, checkout AmazonBasics Mesh. It’s one of the best office chairs under $100.

Yes, we did say this article would be about inexpensive, budget-friendly workspace treats. So $200 to $215 for a desk upgrade might seem like much. But we promise that this is the price ceiling for the rest of the items on this list.  

2. A Good Lamp

Lighting influences your mood and disposition, too. Good lighting helps you see what you’re working on better, thus boosting productivity. It can keep you alert and awake, which is especially useful when you have to cram for a paper due the next day.

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When your eyes aren’t strained, you’ll also have an improved focus to get the job done faster and more effectively. You can opt for the basic-looking traditional lamps. Or choose an alternative light source that’s cute and trendy. 

For functionality over design, we highly suggest the 24W Architect Desk Lamp with Clamp. It is a great steal at around $70.

3. A Fake or Real Plant

There’s something about plants that makes any space look homier and chill. Green is the color of nature and has a naturally relaxing and calming effect on us. And tending to another living thing that isn’t as high-maintenance as a pet or another human being has been shown to reduce stress levels.

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For an instant change in scenery, set aside a small space in your work area dedicated to a plant or two. Or three! Keep a water sprayer nearby so you can water them whenever you need to take a short break from work. 

But let’s be real. Not all of us can keep a plant alive and healthy. So, for your reference, here are 12 houseplants that you can keep for your sanity. Don’t worry, they say these are impossible to kill! You can also opt to buy fake plants if you want some greens for aesthetic purposes only.

4. An Organizer

They say a cluttered desk is a reflection of a cluttered mind. While it is also commonly attributed to a person’s intelligence, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little bit of organization once in a while, right? 

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While we can’t always keep our desks clear of any work stuff, the least we can do is to organize them. This is where the adorable boxes, drawers, hooks, and mini baskets come in.

Even if you’re not the type of person who’s keen on keeping things straight and neat, easy-to-access storage can help you develop the habit of putting things back to where they belong. Plus you can also use these accessories to spice up your desk’s aesthetics. Sure, you can go with the minimalist black or white color scheme, but if you want a classic rustic vibe, this 3pc galvanized metal desk organizer fits the bill. 

5. Zip Ties for Your Cables

Are you tired of tripping over your charging cables and other cords lying around your workspace? Roll up those nasty wires and organize them with zip ties! Hiding those cords and whatnots can help invite more ideas and maximize your desk workspace.

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This is the cheapest desk upgrade on the list that’ll keep you from stumbling over your work progress. Cable ties can be used for multiple purposes, too, and they come in different colors and lengths. Depending on your cable situation you can definitely find the perfect tie to wrap things up.

6. A Mechanical Keyboard

Unlike a proper chair and a good lamp, a mechanical keyboard is not under the “What You Need” category. Since laptops and some computers already have built-in keyboards, upgrading to a mechanical one can be considered a luxury. Even so, here’s why we think this accessory is one of the best, cheap desk upgrades you can get for your productivity.

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Mechanical keyboards like this from Royal Kludge are sought after by the general public because it can be very satisfying to hear the clicking sound of your keys as you type away to finish your work output. We crave instant gratification, especially when we don’t particularly like what we do. So, an audio cue goes a long way to keep you typing. Not to mention the gorgeous rainbow backlighting will definitely keep you awake.

Pricing can shoot up pretty quickly with mechanical and gaming keyboards, depending on the specifications of the item. But you can always find cheaper deals that are under the $50 price range. Test them out at the store to make sure they’re not only affordable but functional as well. 

7. A Sticky Notes Set

A pen and paper come hand-in-hand the same way desks and chairs do. You can find them in any work area for two good reasons. The first is for making your to-do lists. The second reason has multiple synonyms but they all refer to brain dumping. Sure you can simply jot things down on any paper you find close by. But how about getting an all-in-one desk upgrade like a sticky note set?

Need to write a colleague’s phone number? Grab a sticky. Do you have to write a short memo for reference later? There’s the perfect paper size on the set for that! Really, a piece of paper can go a long way to empty your brain of trivial information so you can have more space to think.

What’s even better with stickies is that you won’t need to rewrite your notes when you transfer them to a more sturdy paper collection like your planner or journal. While you’re at it, grab a pen that writes beautifully, too. We all hate clogged pens, right? So, choose the one that makes your writing look neat and doesn’t dry out too easily. Ballpoint pens are perfect for everyday use like the pens from Uni Gel. Try it out on your notes set! 

8. Desk Mat or Large Mousepad

Sometimes, the desk itself isn’t very inviting in the first place. But upgrading your desk costs too much, around $100 for a good one. It can also be very impractical if you’re just renting out a space. But there’s a way to upgrade your desk without replacing the whole thing. You can do this with a desk mat or a large mousepad. You can clothe your desk to make it look brand new!

Under $25, this LOLLIDO desk mat that comes in 16 different colors can make any boring table look more inviting. It’ll also help coax you into keeping your table organized because of its coverage. 

The best part about desk mats like this is that they can also double as large mouse pads. Let’s be honest. If you have to buy another desk upgrade, then this one would be like hitting two birds with one stone. 

9. A White/Corkboard combo

If you can’t decide between a whiteboard and a corkboard, why not get the best of both worlds with a combo-ard? Heh, we just made that up. But, seriously, isn’t that brilliant?

This item might not fit into the overall vibe of your setup. But, if you’re someone who relies on visual cues to get things done, then it’s high time that you consider upgrading your to-do list or Kanban board.

Others hang this item on their walls while some stick to having them in their gadgets. Either way works as long as it’s visible. But, there’s something about actively moving things around––from a To-Do to the Work in Progress––that turns a task into a game. Doing so can help squeeze out a little more motivation to get through a workday.

10. Storage Cart

Let’s say you want a clear, empty desk that only contains whatever is necessary for the task you are currently working on. The question is, where will you put the rest of the items that you also need close by, just in case? The answer is in a storage cart!

This cheap upgrade is technically not a part of the desk, but you can think of it as an extension of your workspace. At just an arm’s reach away, you can have access to other items you might need without having to stress about how little space you have for the big project you’re working on.

Depending on how much stuff you want to store, and how many functions you want your cart to have, pricing varies from $20 to $50. This utility rolling cart from DTK already has two small baskets and four hooks that you can use to stow away your office stuff. For its price and functionality, it’s definitely a great bang for your buck.

What’s great about this item is if you’re no longer interested in using it for your workspace, you can always use it to store other items in your home. Plus, it comes in different styles and colors so it will seamlessly fit into the theme you have right now.  

Bonus Upgrade: A Rubber Duck

You might be thinking: What does a rubber duck have to do with my productivity? Well, believe it or not, rubber ducks have been used by people to help them find answers to problems. This productivity hack is called the rubber duck debugging.

This technique is widely used in software engineering, where coders try their best to translate the code into layman’s terms so they can explain it to the rubber duck. Doing so can help them figure out the issue or the bottleneck in their progress.

It might not look too professional to have a bright yellow rubber duck sitting on your desk while you work. But let’s face it, desperate times call for desperate measures like this. So, why not give it a shot?

Which cheap desk upgrade will be best for your productivity?

First things first. Consider what’s working on your setup and what’s not. Then, upgrade from there. You can save money and space when you’re intentional about what change you want to see in your workflow.

If you can’t upgrade all of the items on this list, we highly recommend that you prioritize having a proper chair and good lighting. They’re both good investments and you can never go wrong with listening to your body. The rest of the upgrades can wait. 


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