Even the most productive programmer needs some distraction during day to day work. Because we spend so much time at our desks it’s great to keep some toys around to help you unwind during the day. Here are some ideas for great desk toys that software developers will love.
An Awesome Coffee Mug (or Tea Mug)
Programmer’s love their coffee habit, myself included. Sitting down with a nice cup of coffee is a symbol of concentration for me. It really gets me into the zone and ready to got. Coders need to concentrate to get anything done and caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee help with that. A funny or insightful coffee mug also works great as a conversation starter in a big office. I worked in a big open office space for a long time and people would constantly get their coffee mugs mixed up and my mug would disappear. This all stopped when I got myself a nice and unique looking mug that my coworkers recognized more easily.
A Rubik’s Cube
The Rubik’s Cube combinatorial puzzle was invented in 1974 and its still the perfect geek toy today. It was originally called the Magic Cube but later renamed after it was sold to another company. While the Cube reached peak mainstream popularity in the 1980s, it’s still widely known and used, especially in the computer programming community. There’s something about this simple yet complex puzzle that fascinates computer programmers and other geeks alike.
Lego Blocks / Nanoblocks
Coders are builders—we love making new stuff from nothing and Lego or other toys like Nanoblocks play directly into that need to be creative. Lego blocks are the classic choice here either for free-form building or following a plan. Star Wars Lego is a popular choice, who doesn’t love to show off with a huge Millenium Falcon on their desk?
A Rubber Duck
Rubber ducks have a long history in programming—“Rubber Duck Debugging” is a thing! It sounds crazy but it’s a legitimate method for debugging code. A developer might sit down to conduct a code review with his rubber duck and explain each line of code to the duck. I know this sounds completely bonkers but it actually works. Just the fact that you’re going through your code again and pretend to explain it to someone else does wonders and lets your brain reflect the code from a different angle. If you’re a Simpsons fan you might prefer a dippy bird instead of a plain old rubber duck.
Okay this is a bit of a cop out because it isn’t really a toy. But keeping healthy snacks at your desk is still a fun distraction and better than drinking sugary drinks. Plus you can share with your coworkers, which they might appreciate over getting pummelled with Nerf guns. Nuts or sunflower seeds make great healthy and practical snacks for coders. They store well in your desk drawer and don’t need refrigeration or cooking. There are no crumbs and these snacks are high in protein, which keeps your brain well-fed and avoids sugar spikes that might crash your productivity.
You might be wondering what my definition of a fun toy is here but for most programming nerds like me, programming books actually fit that definition. It’s always good to grow your skills and physical books work better if you need to do some thinking or research away from the computer. Plus they make a nice status symbol too. Who isn’t impressed by the guy or gal in the office keeping a bunch of graph theory or discrete math books on their desk? Time to start building your private library.
A Nerf Gun
I don’t know why but many programmers love Nerf guns, toy guns that fire foam darts or balls. Nerf Blaster was the original brand but today there are many copies that work just as well. While it can get distracting and a bit rowdy, there’s something deeply satisfying in getting back at your colleagues with a foam dart to the back after an intense code review.