What Are Your Favorite Tools to Make Working from Home Easier?

Grethcen working at desk_2

Right now, we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and it will continue and change for a long time. While everyone across the globe is affected, it’s hitting people differently in different places. Countries are experiencing it at different times, and within the United States, states are being hit at different times. The crisis affects individuals very differently, too; people’s fears and challenges vary dramatically. Wherever we are, we’re all so grateful for the healthcare workers and all the essential workers who are doing such important work, so courageously, during this time.

I’m writing from my own experience, at this moment, in New York City.

Now that many of us are working from home, we might be working in our home spaces in new ways, and we might be doing our usual work in an entirely new way, as well. Which means that we might need new tools.

Good tools can make work so much easier. What tools have made it easier for you to work from home—now or ever? We can all learn from each other.

Here are some of my favorites—most are fairly inexpensive when compared to how much benefit I’ve received from them.

10 tools that make it easier to work from home:

1. Phone headset – I resisted for a long time, because it looks preposterous, but it’s really much more comfortable, and it lets me walk around when I’m on the phone, which boosts my energy. I also initially resisted the advice to purchase…

2. Additional monitors – I have three monitors, and they make me so happy! The ability to have multiple pages up at once saves me a huge amount of time. It’s not distracting, it’s freeing.

3. Book weight – If you work with books, get a book weight. My husband Jamie bought me one of these years ago. I had no idea something like this even existed; now I use it almost every day and also have a second one for travel.

4. Book stand – If you work with papers, get a book stand. I use my stand when I’m recording a podcast, to hold my show script. It’s helpful to be able to read two pages at once, to minimize the sound of paper shuffling. I haven’t seen my stand in a few months, because it’s stuck at the recording studio, and I miss it; I should probably buy another one to have at home, but under-buyer that I am, I’m resisting.

5. Standing desk – To create a makeshift standing desk, use an ironing board. (We shared this hack in episode 275 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.)

6. Ring light – If you’re doing a lot of video chats, on your laptop or on your phone, a ring light can dramatically improve your lighting. I gave this one to my sister Elizabeth for her birthday.

7. Desk hook for your headphones – As with the book weight, I was thrilled to discover that this item existed. I use a big pair of headphones with my desktop, and they were always in my way. Then I got the hook, and problem solved. I couldn’t find the link to the one I bought, but this one looks good.

8. Stickers – Add stickers to your Air Pods, phone charger, or anything else where your gear might get mixed up with other people’s. This little hack has saved me from countless squabbles with my family.

9. Extra gear – It’s worthwhile to invest in extra chargers, extension cords, and outlet adapters that let you plug in additional items. As an under-buyer (see above), I often argue, “But I already have a phone charger!” but I’ve found that having plenty of this kind of gear makes life much easier. In our toolbox, I found a super-long extension cord, and it has made using my ring light (also, see above) so much more convenient, because I can just drag it around instead of constantly unplugging and plugging it.

10. Wirecutter review site – This New York Times site tests and reviews the best tech, appliances, and gear—for work, home, travel, gifts. I often find it very useful when I’m buying work equipment.

What simple tools have you found to give you a big boost in comfort, productivity, or order, when you’re working?

One of my aphorisms is: “Beautiful tools make work a joy.”



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