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How I work from home – my office setup

Cat boss in chair glares disapprovingly

A comprehensive list of items that I’ve used for my office setup, and some advice that has worked for me in maintaining work/life balance.

I’m no expert in any particular form of organization of interior design, but I do have some familiarity in working from home. I’m going to share my setup with you – I’ve sourced the parts to be reasonable while staying at a modest budget. This has worked well for me and maybe it will work for you too.

Desk and Chair

The basics. If you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need something sturdy to support your equipment, and something comfortable to sit on.

I use an IKEA Linnmon desktop paired with an IKEA Alex drawers, which doubles as support for the desk. I like the deep bottom drawer model as it is tall enough to hold a documents organizer. If you aren’t familiar with IKEA products, know that you’ll also need to buy IKEA Adils desk legs for the other side.

If you’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk, I recommend getting a lumbar support for your back. If you prefer going with a standing desk option, I recommend getting a soft mat instead – Costco has a comfortable model.

Mounting your Screens

When it comes to setting up your monitors, don’t waste your desk space – get monitor arms. I’ve been using this HUANUO dual arm monitor stand for half a year and have had no problem with slippage. If you want both monitors to touch, you will end up with roughly a 30cm gap from the rear of the desk to the monitors.

Headphones

Use the headphones that you like. I use CB3 Hush wireless headphones. They are comfortably over-ear and offer decent sound and noise cancelling, especially at their price-point. I have observed that the right dome is subject to a faint signal noise while using Bluetooth but I’ve found that using a better Bluetooth emitter reduces this noise.

If you have a decent sound card in your PC, I recommend using a stereo to Bluetooth emitter – USB Bluetooth adapters skip the sound card and degrade the audio quality. I’ve been using this Avantree Priva III Bluetooth audio transmitter for a few years with no issue. Added bonus, it can multicast to two paired devices simultaneously. Include your partner!

Desk Things

Treat your devices well. I keep my cellphone on a Lamical universal cellphone stand, and headphones on a New Bee headphone stand.

Separating Work from Play

I personally struggle with distractions at home, especially with my beefy main rig and Steam library. I also have the Linux/Windows dilemma. I don’t at all mind Windows 10 but as a software developer, a native Linux environment seems easier than leveraging WSL.

A solution that addresses both concerns, I bought another PC – a refurbished Lenovo M73 USFF on ebay for cheap and beefed it up. A 4th gen i3 with 8gb RAM and an SSD is more than good enough to write code, and the ultra compactness of this box allows me to stack it on top of my main rig.

I wired up my keyboard and mouse to both PCs with an Ablewe USB 3.0 switch and now I can switch between my work PC and my leisure PC without unplugging any cables.

Yes, I could run a VirtualBox Ubuntu VM for much cheaper, but that doesn’t offer the same mental compartmentalization for me. Having to physically power on another PC works as an adequate a deterrent.

Optional Coffee

Is coffee really optional? If you’re going to be home a lot, you might be interested in investing in a good espresso machine. You don’t need a $5 coffee when you can make a delicious cup right here at home! I use the Breville CafĂ© Roma espresso machine and have had great success in adventuring with different beans and blends.

Routine

I’ve found that for me, routine is key. I try to wake up by 7:30 every day regardless of how tired I feel. This forces me to be responsible the night before, and prevents the slippery slope of “just 15 more minutes” until I’m not starting work until near midday.

Everyone’s different but I find personally that if I start work later in the day it tends to be a less productive day even if I try to make the time up at the other end.

Don’t forget to take a real break away from your desk. Maybe when you eat lunch, take a stroll in your neighbourhood. Consider incorporating small breaks into your routine too – these can be good for boosting overall productivity. I have been trying the Pomodoro technique and it has been good for accomplishing both work and house tasks during my day.

If you have any tips, or if you try and like any of the items that I use, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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