What you Need in your Home Office (and what you don’t)

So you find yourself working from home. A lot of people are new to it but I spent years literally trapped at home and made it work by finding online gigs. So let me help you out now that nearly everyone I know is setting up a home office.

1. A lamp

Good light is key to a happy workspace in which you’ll feel alert and focused. I have a simple metal lamp from ikea. It’s aesthetically pleasing enough and it casts light over my entire desk. I went a step further and put a hue smart colour bulb in. This allows me to change the colour of my light with voice commands spoken to google, or from an app on my phone. Personally I like that I can have bright white light for zoom meetings but set more creative and fun vibes when I’m writing. I also often set it to automatically fade from one colour to the next. Sometimes simple touches like this can make you feel a lot more inclined to spend the time in your home office rather than sitting with your computer in front of the tv or elsewhere.

2. A Planner and Notepad

If you’re anything like me you like to write things down. I always have a notepad and planner open on my desk. This year I’m using the Living Well Planner. Writing things down, both in my planner on a schedule and in a notebook when I”m just making general notes, helps me to stay focused and work productively. These items house my ideas and translate the chaos of my ambitious thoughts in to workable plans. If you’re fully digital and don’t use paper products, but rather your digital calendar and note apps then go ahead and skip this one, of course.

4. A Google Homer Mini or smart speaker of choice

There’s so many reason to love smart speakers. Personally our house is currently set up with google homes and they’ve been working well. They’re reasonably cooperative with me as an apple user and they have a wide array of capabilities. One of my favourites that I use specifically in the office is “Hey Google, Good Morning”. You can set up routines in your google home app to have your google home complete a specific series of tasks for one command such as Good Morning, Good Night, I’m Leaving, I’m Home or whatever else you may think of. It can even include reading you a poem! In the morning when I greet google it turns on my office lights to my preferred setting, tells me of any calendar events I have in google calendar, shares the weather and then plays the news. Getting all this information while I”m setting in, waking up my laptop, reviewing my plans, checking my email etc. makes for great morning routine.

5. A Whiteboard (Maybe)

I’m a very visual person so I have two whiteboards on the wall in front of my desk. This means I’m always facing them and can easily reference the information on them. It’s a great place to stick quotes that will motivate you, key statistics if you’re monitoring social media platforms, reminders, ideas, to-do lists etc. One f mine is also magnetic which helps when keeping track of notes and papers that I need temporarily at my finger tips.

6. A Laptop Riser

We’re all just living in a zoom fish bowl these days and trying to hide the extra chins we’ve accumulated while snacking at home this last year. Dismiss the teetering stack of books, boxes and whatever else you have cluttering your desk and stacked up for every zoom meeting. I bought a simple laptop platform from Staples – my favourite part is that the place underneath is open so I can slide notebooks and whatnot in that space as I’m shifting through physical notes and materials during zoom calls.

7. Self Care Basics

For this, think of items like moisturizer, lib balm or even a brush, that you can utilize to give yourself a mini “brain break” without totally switching to focus on something else. It gives you an excuse to mull over complex issues without having your hands on the keyboard and feeling pressured to answer instantly. If you were in the office you might get up and go make a cup of tea, grab a bottle of water, or check in on a co-worker. You might still do these things on brain breaks but you might now so it’s good to have a back up way of stepping back and taking a deep breath.

What You Don’t Need

Avoid a lot of non-work activities – the book you’re reading, your craft project, your fave video game. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that you have to create a sense of separation between work and home even though they’re both housed in the same building now. Let your office be your work space. Avoid piling too many items there that will distract you from your goals and productivity.

Also avoid the trap of buying a million things you “need” in the excitement about working from home more and more steadily. These might be things like oil diffusers, fancier then needed pen holders and tape dispensers. Before you know it your desk will barely have room for your laptop and a cup of tea!

What are your biggest questions or struggles with working remotely? Love it? Hate it? Wish you did more of it? I want to hear your thoughts!

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