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When COVID-19 took the world by storm, many working professionals, maybe you, were forced to adapt to a work-from-home routine. It was difficult for many, as people quickly learned about the home office essentials they didn’t know they needed, but not me — a veteran of the work-from-home scene.
I’ve been working from home as a freelance journalist since the end of 2010. Thankfully, when the first wave of COVID-19 hit, my routine was not affected. But as some of my friends were forced to make the transition, they would ask how I could bear to do it through the whole workday.
They would complain of discomfort and the inability to concentrate. I thought that was a funny question, “how can you bear to do it,” because now, I can’t imagine spending this many hours anywhere else. But one thing became clear — none of my friends had the right tools to successfully work from home.
After 12 years of working out of my own home, these are the tools I’ve found to work for me to thrive professionally within my own walls.
1. A Standing Desk
I actually have three desks: a primary workstation, a secondary for testing and a third to store “stuff” on it that I’m not using. Just because I work eight hours a day doesn’t mean that I’m sitting down the entire time. I love the Vari Curve Electric Standing Desk because it can be adjusted in height from 25 inches to 50.5 inches. This allows me to sit some of the time and then stand up when I want a change of pace. The desktop is also a spacious 60 inches and has plenty of room for all of my desk essentials and accessories.
I also have a Seville Classics Tempered Glass Desk. It’s also an adjustable standing desk and even has a pull-out drawer. This desk doesn’t adjust in height as much as the Vari Curve Desk, with a tighter range of 27.5 inches to 46.5 inches. However, it has a smaller, 47-inch footprint, making it a great choice for small or tight spaces. The tempered glass top on the black desk can be used as a dry-erase board, but I don’t use it for that. In fact, I keep a desk pad on top to avoid scratching and smudging the glass because I don’t ever want to be in the “that’s why we can’t have nice things” club.
My third desk is my favorite and I purchased it years ago from either Overstock or Wayfair. I love the chrome base and clear, tempered glass top. While assembling the desk, I turned one of the screws too tight and created a small crack in the glass, but you can’t see it because there’s a desk mat on top of it as well. It’s not an adjustable standing desk, but since it’s made of glass and has sawhorse legs, it doesn’t take up much visual space in the room.
2. An External Monitor
In a previous life, I was a media department manager and video editor, so I got into the habit of viewing my work on large monitors in the edit bay. Today, it’s impossible to go back to using a laptop screen as my primary viewing source. A large external monitor is easier on your eyes and helps you sit properly instead of being hunched over. I’m currently testing a 40-inch Innocn Ultrawide Monitor, which is the largest monitor I’ve ever tested and I’m pretty sure I’m in love. For such a large monitor, it’s quite slim and the stand can swivel and tilt with an adjustable height.
My other large monitors include the 32-inch ASUS ProArt Monitor, which has gorgeous colors, and a 120Hz refresh rate. It can be adjusted in height, and also swivel and tilt for better viewing angles.
I’m also a fan of curved monitors because they make it much easier to work for long periods. I have the 27-inch MSI Curved Gaming Monitor, and although it isn’t as large as the other monitors, the 1500R curved panel makes it one of my favorites.
3. A Comfortable Chair
The best desk and monitor in the world won’t matter if your chair is uncomfortable. In fact, having the right chair is so crucial that we wrote an entire article on the best ergonomic chairs. Trust me when I tell you that the Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair is probably more comfortable than your sofa or your bed.
If you prefer a gaming chair, I highly recommend the Mavix M9 Gaming Chair. You may have noticed that all of these chairs have leather seats since that’s my preference. However, if you would rather have a cloth textile, the Branch Verve Chair has a 3D knit fabric with a contoured seat and back, and adjustable lumbar rest.
4. Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse
A good keyboard helps me type faster (and more accurately) while keeping me comfortable with an ergonomic design. I only use backlit keyboards — they’re invaluable when I’m typing at night and I don’t want to turn on a lot of lights. And nothing feels better underneath my fingertips than the Logitech MX Keys for Mac, which has spherically dished keys. The smart, wireless keyboard lights up as soon as I approach it and it automatically adjusts the lighting level based on the lighting in the room. The Satechi Compact Keyboard is a close second. It’s also slim, wireless, and has backlit keys for low-light environments.
As it relates to mice, Logitech’s MX Master 3 for Mac is the single best mouse that I’ve ever used. It’s ridiculously comfortable in a hand, super-fast and can be used on any surface.
5. Docking Station
Since I’m using external monitors, keyboards and mice, I need a convenient way to connect everything. I’ve been using Satechi Multi-Port Adapters for years and have found them to work well, not take up much space and have all the ports needed to perform my job.
When I’m using my Dell at another desk, I use the Plugable Universal Laptop Docking Station. Although all of my monitors have HDMI ports, this docking station also includes adapters to use with older monitors that have DVI or VGA ports.
6. Quality Headphones
Silence is golden when trying to concentrate — and by silence, I mean the absence of outside noise. The Master & Dynamic MW75 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones work overtime to block out the sound of lawn mowers and weed whackers. The soft lambskin leather makes it easy to comfortably wear the headphones for hours at a time and I can even take phone calls on them.
When I’m not wearing the MW75’s, I’m wearing another favorite — the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones, which have hybrid noise canceling and ambient pass-through. These wireless headphones also have a wear sensor that pauses music when I remove the headphones and continues playing when I put them back on. Both headphones deliver rich, robust sounds when I’m making my way through my playlists, and encourage me to be more productive as I’m working.
Other than these two models, SPY has tested and reviewed the best noise canceling headphones and the best wireless headphones as well as the best wireless earbuds of the year for your convenience.
7. Excellent Speakers
I don’t always feel like wearing my headphones. However, I also don’t like the idea of desktop speakers because I don’t want two separate speakers on my desk. My Marshall Acton III Portable Bluetooth Speaker is relatively small, but it’s designed to provide immersive sound that fills the room. The wireless stereo speaker uses Bluetooth but also has a 3.5-millimeter input.
8. Useful Lamp
My favorite lamp is the BenQ eReading LED Desk Lamp. However, it’s white and doesn’t match the rest of my WFH accessories (yeah, I’m that person), so I use it on my nightstand when I’m reading in bed. Despite this, I still think it makes for one of the best desktop lamps. The arm has 3 adjustable joints to swing up and down as well as in and out, and it shuts off with a light touch. I also like that the color temperature and brightness levels can be adjusted.
I also have not one but two LumiCharge LED Desk Lamps on one desk. These lightweight lamps are so versatile. I can swivel and tilt both the base and head, and the lamps have a built-in clock. The color temperature and brightness levels can be changed, and I can set the sensor to turn on the lamps when I walk close to them. The lamps even have a wireless charging dock.
9. Space-Saving Exercise Equipment
As much as I love working from home, I will admit that I don’t move around as much as I should. I’m not walking across a parking lot, and it doesn’t take too many steps to get to my bathroom or the coffee maker in my kitchen. What I started doing to walk more was involving the Mobvoi Home Treadmill in my routine. Having a treadmill at home allows me to exercise at any time, morning, noon or night and in any weather, so I never have a valid excuse not to work out. The treadmill has an LED console, is quiet and easy to operate and doesn’t take up much space. I can also slide the treadmill underneath a sofa when not in use.
However, variety is the spice of life, and my MYX Fitness Bike is another WFH item I wouldn’t be able to survive without. It’s positioned in front of my balcony, so I can enjoy the view when riding it, and the touchscreen lets me access both live and on-demand workouts. However, most of the time, I’m catching up on the news while pedaling.
10. Portable Power
I live in the South, and we don’t get enough snow or cold weather to have a proper winter. Despite that, tropical storms are frequent in this region, and on numerous occasions, the power has gone out while I was working. The Jackery Solar Generator 1000 has been a lifesaver, allowing me to plug in a monitor, several lamps and also a fan since the HVAC goes out while recharging my laptop and smartphone. As a result, I’ve been able to comfortably continue working during inclement weather.
Working from home doesn’t always mean that you’re working from home. Sometimes, you may be working in the library, at a coffeehouse or on the beach. The Anker Powerhouse 100 Portable Charger is small enough to toss in my laptop bag, and carry wherever I go. The Powerhouse 100 can charge my laptop and phone at the same time. In fact, it can charge up to four devices simultaneously.
About the Author: Terri Williams
As a journalist, Terri Williams covers a variety of topics ranging from the best business practices to law trends to real estate. She also tests some of the best tech products and home goods on the market. Recently, Terri has taught readers about the best air purifiers, the best wet dry vacuums and the best waterproof speakers. All recommendations are based on items personally tried and loved.
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