Serene Standing Desk Setup in San Francisco, CA

Michelle’s Serene Standing Desk Setup in San Francisco, CA

“I find it important to have a workspace that is conducive to focus, but also comfortable for the freedom of mind when it comes to creative tasks”

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Name: Michelle Fang

Location: San Francisco, CA

Occupation: Head of Community & Marketing

Room size: 42 m² (452 ft²)

Social media: Twitter

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi there!

I’m Michelle Fang — 23, based in San Francisco. I work in community/marketing focusing on the early-stage startup scene.

I love meeting people, bringing people together through community, and hosting industry events in SF. I am also passionate about creating content.

I’m a creative person at heart, so I deeply enjoy editing videos, working with startups on their content/storytelling needs, and writing on topics that interest me.

A cosy and clean home workspace

I was previously CMO at a pre-seed consumer social startup & co-founder of a coliving community.

You can find my work featured in the Business Insider, the Information, New York Times, etc. I share a lot of updates on my Twitter, so find me there :)

I also just started TikToking on the side, showcasing some of my favourite food spots in SF. My handle is @localfoodtours!

Take us through your setup

Item Model
Monitor BenQ 24″ Monitor
Laptop MacBook Pro 13″ 2020
Headphones Apple AirPods
Keyboard Apple Wireless Keyboard
Mouse Apple Wireless Magic Mouse
Chair Amazon Ergonomic Office Chair
Mouse mat Amazon Leather Mouse Pad in Matcha
Web camera Lumina AI 4K Webcam
Standing desk ApexDesk Tempered Glass
Treadmill UMAY Treadmill

I firmly believe that investing in your home office and setup is the best decision you can make, especially as a new grad who might just be moving into your first place.

I digital nomaded the country for a whole year and finally have been able to settle down in one city & invest in my space.

A studio apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows in San Francisco, CA

My studio faces the inside of an apartment complex (no busy streets or cars) and has a serene bamboo garden right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.

It’s a super nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of living in San Francisco.

It’s a huge creativity and mood booster when I’m at my desk working.

Lots of natural light comes in and I have been collecting house plants in my apartment as well.

My workspace consists of a standing desk (I splurged on the tempered glass top which gives everything a clean look).

I alternate between an under-the-desk treadmill that I walk on when I’m in deep work and an office chair for when I’m taking meetings, so I look normal (haha).

The UMAY treadmill under the desk

On the desk — I love my MacBook Pro & have been sucked into the Apple ecosystem like many others, as seen by the keyboard, mouse, and AirPods.

I have a 24-inch LED monitor from BenQ, a simple and affordable one I bought off Amazon.

The rest of my accents are also from Amazon or IKEA, with simple lighting, a candle, and a wooden photo holder.

Keeping my desk clean and minimal helps me focus and does not clutter my mind while I’m there.

I also have a lounge area where I like to do more creative tasks like writing or content creation.

Most of my items in this corner are thrifted off Facebook Marketplace or super affordable finds off the Internet.

I find it important to have a workspace that is conducive to focus, but also comfortable for the freedom of mind when it comes to creative tasks.

An Apple Keyboard and Magic Mouse

This has become my favourite corner of my studio and the part that I spend the most time in!

I moved into my place at the beginning of the summer so I was lucky enough to start with a blank slate and build it however I liked it (it took a few weeks).

I’m going to keep it fairly simple moving forward so I don’t anticipate buying too many more things (maybe a cable organiser is next) but who knows!

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What’s your favourite item on your desk?

My favourite item on my desk (outside of my laptop which I’m with 24/7 almost) is my monitor.

I used to not have a monitor and only used my laptop, but expanding to two screens has increased my productivity and peace of mind so much.

My monitor was purchased off Amazon for $100 (which is fairly cheap of all the monitor options), and I actually lugged this monitor around for a whole year while I was digital nomading across the country.

A standing desk with tempered glass

I had several friends drive the monitor around when they were travelling, so it would match where I would be (since I could not bring it on the plane and shipping would be too expensive).

It’s finally found a home in SF as I have settled down, but it’s funny that this monitor has stuck with me for so long and in so many cities.

What apps or tools do you use to get things done?

While I use a ton of apps and tools, I like to keep it simple by only using one app per function.

I use Notion for notetaking, documents, and to-dos. Slack for communication. Zoom for video meetings. Superhuman for emails. Texts.com for texting. Final Cut Pro for video editing. Spotify for music and iCal for calendar/scheduling.

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I love productivity tools that integrate into my everyday use — this might be a contrarian opinion but I love iCal for my calendar and managing my schedule.

Especially since it’s great for when I’m on the go and need to get something done/quickly check my schedule.

What books, blogs or podcasts recently caught your attention?

The Daily Stoic is my literal bible — it’s a collection of 366 short Greek philosophy texts meant to be read once a day.

You can re-read the entire book every year and the texts will still have meaning and impact on your day-to-day life.

It’s a book that grounds me and I highly recommend anyone to have it. Plus, it’s an easy habit to read once a day for five minutes and sets my mood for a great start.

Podcast-wise, I just joined my friends Madison & Claudia on their Podcast, the Room Podcast.

The Room Podcast

They aim to open the door to the room where it happens, sharing stories of amazing, successful founders and funders like Michelle Zatlyn of Cloudflare, Ciara, Grammy-award winner, Shuo Wang of Deel, Shishir Mehrotra of Coda, and more.

They’re a top 10% podcast in downloads and 87% of their guests identify as underrepresented.

As a startup founder/operator myself, I love the content & mission!

Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?

If you’re thinking about upgrading your setup, let me tell you that you won’t ever regret splurging on a nice home office.

If you think about it, if we work from our setup 40 hours a week, that’s 38% of your awake time (not including the long hours if you work in banking, startups, etc.).

You’ll spend most of your time using your home office, so it’s worth going for the nicer things.

A home workspace with loads of natural light

A tip I would have is that you don’t need to remake everything at once. Start with areas or items in your home office that:

a) you haven’t upgraded in a while or are getting old, or

b) tackle a problem that you face (i.e. tangling cords, wobbly desk).

Start there and slowly build out over time!

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day always varies.

Sometimes, I’m glued to my desk setup and working in one place. On other days, I might be bouncing around coffee shops, co-working spaces, or on the road travelling.

I’ve been working remotely for the entirety of the pandemic since 2020, with the occasional in-person element and meetings.

I’m a morning person so I try to allot most of my larger tasks to tackle then and all my meetings majorly to the afternoon when I can get into a slump without meetings keeping me going.

A coffee table with a vase and a couple of books

I enjoy in-person meetings and coffee, so I try to sprinkle in some every few weeks or so (also to give myself an excuse to try out coffee shops in SF).

The pandemic has given me lots of flexibility to work on my own schedule. I’ve noticed that I’ve been more creative and in flow than before.

I previously worked an in-person consulting job and had to commute every morning and dress in business casual/formal daily.

Without a commute and being able to wear clothes that I feel better in, I can focus freely on what really matters on the job.

Your tips for working from home?

My best tip for working from home is to be intentional about your day and how your time is allotted.

Working from home gives you the liberty to structure your day (mostly) around yourself and how you work best.

Some practices that have really helped my productivity include brain-dumping all my tasks and time blocking them out.

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The concept of Pomodoro (dedicating 20-50 minutes of undistracted time to focus on accomplishing a task), and planning my day the night before.

To help me stay focused, the best habit I try to stick to is taking action, no matter how small.

The action doesn’t come from motivation but the other way around.

Motivation comes from action & getting the ball rolling by doing, no matter how you feel!

Lastly, I love the 5-minute rule: if something takes less than five minutes to do (i.e. sending out an email/message, making an intro, etc.), do it now and right when you see it.

A green couch and a golden lamp in a tranquil studio apartment in San Francisco, CA

I find that when I keep pushing a small task back, I always end up getting to it a lot later than I should have.

Sticking with the 5-minute rule has helped me stay better organised and on top of the small things that need to happen so I can focus on larger tasks.

We’re a reader-supported publication. This article might contain affiliate links. It means we may receive a commission if you click a link and buy a product that our maker has recommended. The interview was done independently.

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