What my physical desk is like
A while back I read The shrinking desk, where the author winds up asking other sysadmins how messy their desks are. As it happens, I have a slightly unusual reaction to that: depending on how you define it, either not at all messy or very messy.
You see, I don't use a desk; I never have. Right from the beginning of my sysadmin career, I've preferred to put my monitor, keyboard, and mouse on a plain table. As far as I'm concerned, the main difference between a desk and a table is that you have less free space for your legs underneath a desk. This is the setup I currently have at work, and I keep the computer table basically completely clear (apart from the stuff that has to be there; monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and cables). I don't even put my computer on the table; it lives on the floor besides the table.
This leaves me needing space to put everything else (starting with the phone). All of that goes on, well, an actual desk (although I'd generally be happy with a second table, maybe with a storage box or two underneath it). In my current setup at the office the desk actually has a side extension and so I have the whole collection set up in the shape of a sideways U; the computer table is in front of me, the desk proper is behind me, and the desk's side extension is on my left. The side extension has things like the phone, my coffee mug (when it doesn't have coffee in it), and a notepad. The actual desk has a random drift of paper and sometimes various hardware bits. I try to keep the amount of accumulated paper down by throwing it out periodically, but I don't always succeed.
My current office is luxurious enough to also have a second table, positioned off to my right, which accumulates most of the random hardware bits. I think everyone around here has at least two tables; some people have three and use them. I think that this arrangement is pretty much ideal if you need that much space for things, although it's sort of better not to need that much space.
(On the accumulating paper, a short shameful confession: when I moved offices in 2006, my old desk was entirely covered in paper to a minimum depth of six inches (and deeper in some spots). After being horrified by the archaeological discoveries I unearthed, I have tried to be more disciplined with the new desk. My current rule of thumb is that if I haven't read whatever it is in six months, it gets thrown out regardless of how much I think that I should read it someday.)