10 cheap and easy ways to level up your home office

If you were new to working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be unsure how long your remote work status will last. Even if you’re working individually or most of the time now, are you sure it won’t change? Not having a hard answer is frustrating and confusing, but it may also surprise you how much time, effort, and money you must put into creating a good workspace at home.

You can buy all kinds of things for the home office, from the quirky to the practical. But really, you don’t need to spend a lot to see big improvements in your comfort and happiness. Making a few simple and inexpensive changes to your existing setup can make a huge difference.

These 10 tips for making the home office better don’t require much on your part. Most of them you can do right away, and some are free. If you are an employee of an organization that supports remote work, ask if there is a budget for home office equipment so that you can reimburse some items. Either way, these tips will make your home workstation look better almost immediately.


1. Hook Up Your Headphones

A pair of headphones can cost anywhere from around $12 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on what you need and want, but they’re a worthwhile item to own when working remotely. Even a cheap set of headphones with a built-in microphone (think $50 or less) is a good investment because it significantly improves your voice over video calls to others.

If you’re willing to spend a little more money, noise-canceling headphones can reduce ambient sounds. Big, comfortable over-ear headphones can make it seem like you have more privacy than you really do and help you focus.

The great thing about headphones is that you can use them as much as you do during work hours. Who doesn’t want a great set of headphones for music, podcasts, audiobooks, and travel?

2. Use a Back Pillow

You don’t need an expensive office chair at home, because it’s easy to adapt any standard chair to be more comfortable with a simple back pillow. Look for an inexpensive curved foam cushion ($25-$85) for your chair, or try a small decorative pillow or rolled-up towel you already have around the house to save yourself a few bucks.

Having adequate lumbar support is just one piece of the ergonomic puzzle. Be sure to check out some other tricks to make your home office ergonomic.

laptop stand

3. Pick Up Your Monitor or Laptop

When you look at your computer, your eyes should be roughly level with the top of the screen. Usually, the screen or monitor is too low. This is how you wind up while twisting your neck or hump. There are two simple solutions.

If you’re lucky enough to have a monitor or desktop computer in your home office, add a few books to the bottom of the base to raise it to a comfortable height.

With a laptop, you’ll need a few more tools: a laptop stand (sometimes called a riser) and an external keyboard and mouse. The stand should also add a few inches of height and tilt. Do not attempt to type on the laptop keyboard while the device is on stand, as this may cause other injuries to your wrists and shoulders.

4. Light up your face for video call

Looking good on a video call really doesn’t take much time, and it’s well worth the effort. When you take a video call from home, the most important thing is the lighting.

Walk around your house to find a good place to call. It may be different from where you do other jobs. During daylight hours, try to get some natural light from a window to brighten up your face. Make sure that your back is not towards the window or the bright lamp, as this will put your face in complete shade. A simple fix is ​​to pivot at least 90 degrees or close the blinds.

If you’re in a room that’s a bit dark, place a simple table lamp with a shade on the side or back of your computer or laptop. Selfie lights (sometimes called ring lights) can amplify illumination as well.

We have tons of extra tips for video calls to make sure you look and sound your best.

5. Make Room for Chargers

Keep the required charger for your device in your workspace. That way, if your phone, headphones, or laptop battery starts to run out, you won’t have to fumble around the house looking for a cord.

In a best-case scenario, your desk will have a drawer where you can store the charger. The next best place might be a decorative box or even an empty coffee mug that you like. Just be sure to keep those chargers nearby to minimize distractions.

velcro cable holder

6. Clean Your Cables

A tangle of cables is ugly and distracting. But it is only when we have a computer, laptop, monitor, router, printer, and everything else in the home office that needs power.

Gaining control over your cable position can seriously improve the look and functionality of your workspace. Set aside time to unplug and detach everything, as well as gather some inexpensive materials to clean up messy cables. They include Velcro one-wraps (my favorite option), zip ties (though don’t tie them too tightly if your cords are doubled), painter’s tape, and even toilet paper rolls. You don’t need to blow half your paycheck to a home organization store to organize your cables, and often you can go from messy to pretty neat in less than 15 minutes.

keyboard with dust free screen cloth

7. Keep Cloth on Hand

Don’t let dust, pet hair or fingerprints spoil your monitor or keyboard. Keep a microfiber cloth on your desk (or in the drawer with your charger) to clean your screen. Have a second cloth handy to wipe down the desk and keyboard; It doesn’t have to be anything special for him. A dish towel, washcloth, or cloth napkin, or even a paper towel will do.

If you happen to have disinfectant wipes on hand, it won’t hurt to keep some of them in your home office space, as long as they’re safe for the surfaces you have. Be careful with natural wood and any varnished surfaces.

8. Scent the Air

Keep an inexpensive candle at your desk or add a few drops of essential oil to a cup of very hot water. If you believe in aromatherapy, certain scents can make us feel calm (lavender) or energized (citrus). Even if you don’t believe that scents affect us to any measurable degree, they can still be pleasant. If deep inhaling eucalyptus or rosemary gives you pleasure, this is a good addition to your home workspace.

window sill plants

Unsplash. photo by Alina Ganjela

9. Add Plants

Never underestimate the power of nature. Adding a few plants to your home workspace can make a big difference in your happiness. Studies have shown that proximity to nature, including office plants and access to windows overlooking the landscape, has a positive effect on workers. Plants can increase productivity and reduce stress.

On a shoestring budget, you can take clippings from your friends’ plants or even ivy found outside, root them according to the type of plant, and place them in an upcycled container (such as a yogurt container). which may have some holes at the bottom. for drainage.

10. Stop Clutter From Escalating

Having a clutter-free desk feels great, feels great, and causes fewer distractions. While there are a few tricks to keeping a tidy desk, there’s only one thing you can do to beat desk clutter: prevent it from accumulating in the first place. And prevention has no secret. Just don’t keep anything on your desk that isn’t necessary.

You can try creating a dedicated space for papers and other things you think you need (but don’t really). This can be a box or basket that you keep on your desk, or better yet, in your desk or in a cabinet nearby. You can try stacking your clutter on a separate table. But seriously, there’s no trick to it. You have to be ruthless to avoid clutter, and it depends on willpower and habit.

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