Let’s be honest:
Working from home and running your own business sound like the good life.
Don’t get me wrong – they ARE. 🌈
Both need major dedication, planning, organization, self-control, and accountability to reach that “good life” level. Otherwise, everything will go up in flames.
I should know. I’ve been doing this for eight years. By now, I have the skills and tools to make my ergonomic home office work for me so I can get sh*t done.
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest requests I get is to share my work-from-home secrets. What is my home office setup like? What are my favorite tools and products?
How do I juggle it all AND a family life?
Well, I’ll tell you.
The biggest secret to the best home office setup for productivity: It’s not just about the tools you use. It’s about YOU.
- It’s about your physical and mental health.
- It’s about moving your body, eating well, and staying hydrated.
- It’s about fueling your working hours so you stay motivated and energized.
So, before I tell you how to set up your best ergonomic home office that will make you super productive, remember: It starts with your personal well-being. The tools and products are there merely to help you maintain it. (And that’s why some of my “tools and habits” will include lifestyle tips.)
Ready? Let’s get into my favorite tools, habits, and products for an efficient, ergonomic workspace that dreams are made of.
Note: This blog contains affiliate links. However, I don’t recommend anything I don’t personally use.
How to Set Up an Ergonomic Home Office: My Favorite Products & Tips
After lots of trial and error, I have found what works best for me in my home office environment. These home office setup ideas are tried, tested, and approved.
1. Raise Your Computer Screen to Eye-Level
I recommend: Bestand Laptop Stand
Are you constantly hunched over your laptop while you work? That’s bad news for your back and neck. Eliminate strain and improve your posture and desk ergonomics by investing in a laptop stand.
This one by Bestand is the BEST one I’ve found. It’s super durable, comfortable, and even cools your computer while you use it. It fits almost any laptop and features a handy ring you can use to corral your cables and cords. As you can see from my picture, I use it on my desk daily!
2. Prevent Eye Strain with Blue Light Blocking Glasses
I recommend: LifeArt Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Researchers have found blue light emitting from our computers and smartphones can disrupt our circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep at night. On top of that, staring at your computer for hours without a break is a recipe for eye strain and headaches.
Blue light blocking glasses can help lessen these issues. I’ve tried many and these specs from LifeArt are by far the most lightweight. Other brands were so heavy, they left imprints on my nose. These don’t, plus they’re super cheap AND cute.
3. Use a Seamless, Wireless Mouse/Keyboard
If you’re a Mac user like me, you can’t beat the Apple Magic Keyboard and Mouse. These are designed to work with your Mac and pair automatically, so they’re super easy to use.
Plus, both the keyboard and mouse are comfortable alternatives to your trackpad and laptop keyboard – especially if you’ll be working for hours behind your computer. Bonus: No wires!
4. Upgrade Your Computer
I recommend: MacBook Pro Laptop
Setting up an ergonomic home office must include the right computer. Working on a laggy, slow machine isn’t just annoying – it’s inefficient. While you wait for your word processor to load, you could write an entire blog post introduction in that space of time. Similarly, if your internet connection goes in and out, how can you get anything done?
For me, a great laptop is essential to create my very best home office setup for productivity. I do everything on my MacBook Pro!
5. Invest in an Ergonomic Home Office Chair
I recommend: Sihoo Ergonomics Office Chair
If you’re going to sit behind a computer all day, make sure your seat is comfy! This is KEY to preventing back pain, shoulder pain, and stress on your joints.
I sit in the VIVA brand, but they are currently discontinued on Amazon. Comparatively, this Sihoo home office chair equals out to include all of the same important features you need in a comfortable, spine-benefitting, ergonomic office chair. You’ll maximize your desk ergonomics with a good chair. It’s SO comfortable and provides support in all the right places.
6. Tone Up While You Sit Down
I recommend: Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair
This tip is multitasking at its finest. Tone your core while you sit and work! I do it by alternating my ergonomic home office chair with a yoga balance ball chair.
This one by Gaiam has a fun design that works well – it’s like sitting on a yoga ball but includes some office chair features. It fits at most standard-height desks. It comes in 9 colors (including black and gray) and has castors, too. Plus, it’s great if you don’t already have the yoga ball, like me. I didn’t have one, and the Gaiam product on Amazon comes with a stabilized yoga ball that sits inside the chair.
I alternate between my regular office chair and my Gaiam balance ball chair.
7. Try a Standing Desk for an Ergonomic Workspace
I recommend: Luxor 40” Single Column Crank Stand Up Desk
To get more blood flowing during a work day where you would normally sit for 8 hours, try out a standing desk with a manual adjustment.
This Luxor model is perfect because you can raise or lower the work surface with a crank. Lower it when you want to sit, then raise it up to stand for a while and improve circulation! I use mine every single day.
My Favorite Tools for Podcasting/Recording
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you probably know about my podcast, The Write Podcast. When I produce this audio content, I have a bunch of favorite tools that make it fun and easy.
Bonus: These tools will last for years and make your recordings sound slick and professional.
8. Podcasting Mic
I recommend: Audio Technica USB Dynamic Microphone
If you podcast, one of the most essential tools to invest in is a high-quality mic. You want crystal-clear sound with no fuzziness or static. The best mic I’ve found that does the job is this model by Audio Technica.
I’ve had it for 4 years now, and I use it to record everything. I’ve recorded over 50 podcast episodes, audio streams for more than 80 videos for The Content Strategy & Marketing Course on it, plus all the audio for The Expert SEO Content Writer Course.
Listen to a sample of me on my Audio Technica mic on The Write Podcast:Listen to “E39 Henneke Duistermaat on How to Improve Your Copywriting Skills Even if You’re a Non-Native Writer” on Spreaker.
This little microphone keeps on trucking. Plus, it’s an insanely good price.
9. Microphone Stand
I recommend: ZaxSound Professional Microphone with Tripod Stand (minus the mic)
To record and podcast hands-free, you need a good microphone stand.
Here’s the deal: I have found the BEST microphone stand that I LOVE to use, but it comes with a crappy mic that has terrible sound quality. You can’t buy the stand separately, but I totally recommend buying the set and tossing the mic just to own this awesome stand.
It’s flexible, the legs move, and you can position the mic on your desk any way you want. For $25, I think this mic stand is worth it.
10. Pop Filter
Once you have a high-quality mic, I recommend going further and investing in a pop filter.
Why? Because it will filter your voice so it sounds clearer when you record. Specifically, this pop filter is great for decreasing wind/breath sounds.
It additionally mounts to your mic stand and has a flexible gooseneck so you can position it perfectly.
11. Audacity (Audio Editing Program)
After you finish recording content, you need an easy way to edit your files to produce a professional-sounding podcast.
For that purpose, I use Audacity. It’s free, super-easy to use, and because it’s open-source software, it’s constantly updated. Here’s an example of one of my finished podcast recordings for The Write Podcast.
Home Office Setup Ideas for Filming & Décor
Boring home office, begone. Working at home all day can feel endlessly monotonous if your surroundings are blah.
Spruce up your décor with these ideas. If you film video content at home, take note!
12. Filming: Light It Up & Position Correctly
If you use your ergonomic home office for audio AND video recording like I do, you need some good lighting to help your camera capture the clearest, brightest picture (even if it’s 10 p.m. or a dark, gloomy day). The Neewer ring light does just that. I’ve filmed videos during Texas storms when it was completely gray outside, and no one was the wiser!
I highly recommend purchasing a good quality ring light just for that purpose. This one from Neewer is a great option for a few reasons:
- It’s lightweight, so you can move it around your filming area, no problem.
- It comes with two types of light filters (so you can make your videos more cool or warm-toned).
- It includes an adjustable phone or camera holder!
I even use this light when taking photo stills for my YouTube thumbnails. It comes out bright and beautiful.
Need a great tripod?
The UltraPro 72″ Inch Heavy-Duty Aluminum Camera Tripod with Universal Smartphone Mount stand is my recommendation because of the height and weight you get with it. It will adjust to fit the perspective of a 6′ tall person (I’m 5’11”, so I needed one this tall!). Bonus: this stand is weighted down, and won’t topple over with a heavy camera up top. It fits any camera with an adjustable holder on top, and moves in every which way and position you want. I know, it’s somewhat expensive at just a tad over $50, but I can tell you after accidentally trashing a few flimsy tripods that this one is worth it.
13. Use Your Smartphone Camera
For recording YouTube videos, you don’t need fancy equipment if you have a smartphone. I personally use my iPhone on the 4k video recording setting!
To switch your own phone to these settings:
- Go to Settings >> Camera >> Record Video.
- From the list of options, choose 4K at 24, 30, or 60 fps (frames per second).
- 60 fps will give the best quality, but will take up the most storage space.
If your iPhone doesn’t have enough storage for saving these larger video files, you may want to invest in a flash drive with an iPhone-compatible connector.
14. Improve the Sound in Your Videos
I recommend: Lavalier Lapel Microphone 2-Pack Complete Set – Omnidirectional Mic for Desktop PC Computer, Mac, Smartphone, iPhone, GoPro, DSLR, Camcorder for Podcast, Youtube, Vlogging, and DJs for $14.99 on Amazon
Audio quality is everything to a great video. A production expert once told me, “Your audience will forgive bad video, but they won’t forgive bad audio.”
One problem with recording video using your smartphone is the audio quality might not be the best. To remedy this, I hook up my iPhone to this inexpensive Lavalier Lapel Mic.
It helps my phone capture sound better so no part of my videos is lacking. With the particular set I recommend on Amazon, you get two trusty lapel mics for under $15. Not bad at all.
15. Use a Video Editor for a Professional Touch
I recommend: Techsmith Camtasia
Even if you’re not a tech whiz, this video editor is easy-as-pie to use and helps your videos look cleaner and more professional. I use it for everything, from my YouTube videos to each and every one of my course videos. You can also use it to record your screen (great for filming software tutorials and how-to’s).
16. Add Some Pizazz to Your Filming Area
I recommend: Light-Up Marquee Letter
Another great hack for filming YouTube videos: Create a designated “YouTube corner” in your home office! This is the spot where you’ll film most of your chatty clips, when you’re talking to the camera.
For my YouTube corner, I have my camera face a bookshelf with some cute décor, including this light-up marquee letter “J.”
It’s eye-catching and adds some visual interest! Plus, it comes in every letter of the alphabet, so you could spell out a word or even your name.
17. Show Your Personality
I recommend: Girl Boss Desk Nameplate
While you’re at it, include some décor with a bit of your personality in your filming corner. I personally love this desk nameplate.
The Best Drinks for Your Home Office Setup (How I Stay Hydrated + Caffeinated Working from Home)
Two more essential elements for my ergonomic home office are:
These are my favorite hacks and products for my coffee and water habits.
18. Coffee: Ruta Maya Whole Bean Organic Medium Roast
Seriously, these coffee beans are pure gold and a must for workaholics and writers who need to stay caffeinated. Just grind up the beans in your favorite coffee grinder.
Unless you like your coffee as strong as jet fuel, I recommend going with the medium roast versus the dark roast.
19. Creamer: Aroy-d 100% Coconut Milk
If you like your coffee creamy without adding dairy, but like me, you’ve simply detested all the ‘watery’ non-dairy choices in stores, this 100% coconut milk from Thailand is a winner. Olga at SEMrush recommended this to me one time in a Facebook conversation we had, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Seriously. It’s amazing, and if I have one coffee “hack,” this would be it.
20. Creamer Pitcher
Hot tip: If you buy the creamer (it’s SO good), get yourself an OXO Good Grips glass creamer pitcher like this one and decant the coconut milk into it. The little packets tend to leak in the fridge.
21. Milk Frother
This milk frother from Café Casa is the secret to making your best-ever lattes from your home office!
BONUS: My Daily Recipe for Amazing Morning Coffee
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/4 c. Aroy-d 100% Coconut Milk
- 16 oz hot coffee
Whisk honey + coconut milk for 40 seconds.
Pour hot coffee over coconut milk & honey mixture.
Enjoy a perfect cup of coffee. ☕
Besides my daily coffee, I drink a TON of water every day. It’s calorie-free, it hydrates your body cells, improves your energy, flushes out toxins, and more.
Use this motivational water bottle to help stay hydrated – no excuses!
Secrets & Tools I Use to Write Massive Content Pieces (Books, Etc.)
23. Get a Designated “Writing” Computer with No Saved Logins
If you write books like me, online distractions are your #1 enemy to getting those massive pieces of content done.
A HUGE tip to fight distractions is to get a second computer just for writing your book. Don’t login to anything in this computer (zero social media, email, team communication channels, etc.).
Take it with you whenever and wherever you want to write.
Without any opportunity to procrastinate online, you’ll be forced to write your book and do ONLY that. You will get a ton of writing done! This is my “secret” to book writing.
Want to make sure everyone knows your extra “writing computer” is a writing computer? Here’s a simple hack.
Put a “grammar” sticker on your laptop case. Now everyone will know you’re a writer, and they won’t bother you as much! 😉 It’s funny how much this works, down to working in coffee shops. I’ve had people look at me, my laptop, read the sticker, and then carefully side-step away to make sure I’m not interrupted.
The writer-at-work sticker hack works, you guys.
Recommended stickers: You Had Me at the Proper Use of You’re Vinyl Sticker ($3.99), Coffee and Write 6×6 Black Vinyl Decal (under $7), Writer at Work ($4.95 plus shipping and time to hand make).
I’ve got the You Had Me at You’re and the Coffee and Write sticker on my second writing laptop, below.
24. Use Scrivener & an Offline Notepad
Two must-dos for writers: a great writing app, and an offline notepad.
Scrivener is a word-processing app specifically for writers. This is a must-have for writing and organizing 200+ page books.
It has powerful outlining tools, including a virtual “corkboard” for storyboarding and an “outliner” that lets you view and arrange all parts of your manuscript. You can also check notes and reference your research right beside your writing.
Update July, 2019: After getting a question in my Facebook group on “what planner or notebook do you recommend”, I had to add a note about the planner I use to this blog.
My notebook of choice is this little Eccolo What Shall I Conquer Today? 5×9 notebook. Tim Ferriss’ golden tip for me in 4-Hour Workweek was not to write your to-do list on too big of a notebook, because then you’ll lose focus and do too much. One or two big projects per day is all that we can humanly handle, and do well. A small notepad, like this one, keeps you perfectly focused. And writing your to-do lists or thoughts offline, with pen and paper, is fantastic.
25. Put on Noise Canceling Headphones
Another hack for eliminating distractions so you can put your nose to the grindstone: noise-canceling headphones. You can use them by listening to music as you write, or just placing them on your head and going into the silence to work. I seriously write 100-150% faster when I use these.
I put these on and play word-free music from YouTube as I write. (I like worship music karaoke playlists – you get the songs you love minus the words, making it much easier to concentrate!)
Optimizing Your Life: Habits and Hacks for Working from Home
While you optimize your ergonomic home office, you should think about optimizing your life at the same time. These are the habits and hacks that keep me on top of my game and performing at 100%.
26. Eat Well
For more energy daily, eating a clean diet is my #1 tip.
I try to eat healthy 90% of the time by blending a Paleo/vegan/whole food/plant-based diet. In particular, avoiding GMOs, processed foods, and foods heavy on dairy, meat, or grease has truly changed my daily energy level.
I can’t recommend healthy eating enough. I used to get sick frequently and got hit with fevers, horrible allergies, sinus infections, migraines and headaches, and 2 p.m. fatigue. All of those things have subsided ever since I started on a clean eating diet, cut dairy, and all processed foods. I haven’t looked back.
If this is the one hack you take away, it might be the most important one here. Watch what you put in your body, because whatever you put in serves as your output, too. Feed your body well, and you’ll find yourself feeling mentally and physically stronger.
27. Drink a TON of Water
My next ultimate energy “hack” for work-at-homers is a foundational one: drink a ton of water. Just keeping your body properly hydrated can do so much for your energy, digestion, circulation, skin health, and more. Water is KEY.
Keep a tall glass full on your desk at all times. Sip throughout the day. (Use the water bottle I recommended to help stay on top of your water intake!) If you don’t like the taste of water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or infuse your water with mint or fresh fruit.
28. Make Time for Exercise
As writers, we spend eons sitting and clacking away at our keyboards. That’s terrible for your health, as it turns out. That’s why another key to optimizing your work-at-home life is to make time for movement and exercise.
I use free exercise apps (Workouts for Women is a favorite) and keep a yoga mat and set of weights at home. I exercise in the morning and evening for at least 10 minutes per session to get a 20-25 minute workout every day. Once a week, I get to the gym, too (I like 24 Hour Fitness).
29. Schedule Dedicated Family Time
If you have a family, make time for them.
Spending time with my four-year-old is a big priority. I like to say she’s one of my “most important projects.” However, if I didn’t block off time to spend with her, we’d get a lot less quality, one-on-one bonding time.
That’s why I set aside work-free, dedicated time with her in the evenings and on weekends. Whether we just cuddle and watch movies or head out for a girls’ day, I consider the time I spend with her just as important as client or team meetings.
Especially if you’re a work-at-home mom or mom CEO like me, setting aside dedicated time with our kids may be necessary to make sure our crazy schedules don’t get in the way.
30. Fit in Dedicated Date Time
It’s so easy to become a workaholic when you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or CEO. Our spouses or partners can become afterthoughts if we don’t pay attention.
Along with mom life, I’m also married, and we plan time for dates. More often than not, it’s a lunch date in the middle of the day, when there’s a lull or things are quiet. Usually, we’re both hungry and don’t want to cook, so we go out.
Luckily, Austin, Texas is full of GREAT places to eat, so it’s easy to get out and have some great food while enjoying 1:1 time together. We don’t worry too much if work comes into the conversation, since it’s what we both love doing. It may go against the norm, but a long time ago we decided this was healthy and not negative for us.
On the other hand, if making a “no work talk” rule during dates helps you bond and reconnect better, by all means – do what works for your relationship.
31. Don’t Forget Self-Improvement
One final tip: Dedicate at LEAST 20 minutes/day to grow your mindset and skills. That might mean reading a book, taking a class online, using an app to learn a new language, or even just reading industry blogs to stay current.
For me, I use the time while I’m getting ready every morning and evening to listen to audiobooks. I just finished Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — highly recommended — and I’m currently listening to Think & Grow Rich and The 4-Hour Work Week on Audible.
32. Free Your Environment From Clutter
I’ll leave you with a final tip: I hate to say it, but it’s true that a cluttered office is a sign of a cluttered mind!
I’ve been going “minimalist” lately, and even spent a weekend tossing out 50% or more of unneeded “crap” in my office after watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I’m so thankful she inspired me to take that next step in cleaning up my life. Slowly but surely, I’m adapting this pattern in the rest of the house. That includes my closet and most difficult, my toddler’s!
Strangely, it feels like a weight off your mind when you can look around your office and see zero clutter. I used to be a serious packrat, so if I can do it, you can too.
You CAN Achieve Amazing Work from Home Ergonomics
If you’re struggling to make your ergonomic home office work, or even if you just need some inspiration to make your work-at-home life a little better, these are my best tips and recommendations.
Ultimately, though, working from home won’t get better until YOU do. Focus on improving your health, diet, relationships, and habits. Then invest in the products and tools that will help you keep going strong. 💪💕
Mic over to you.
What’s the #1 tip from this post that you want to try first?
Or maybe you have a question about one of my office productivity hacks?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.