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Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

If you don’t work from home, you probably imagine it to be a pretty cushy gig: you can do everything you need to get done while lounging on the couch in your pajamas, casually going about your business with not a care in the world.

If you do work from home, you know that’s simply not the case. For the most part, working from home requires you to set up your living space as if it were an actual office. While you don’t necessarily need to hole yourself up in your room, it certainly helps put you in the frame of mind to get some work done. If you’ve been designated for home assignment, make sure you have the following to ensure you maintain your productive nature.

Wi-Fi with a high speed connection

If you work from home, chances are you’ll be spending a majority of your time utilizing the Internet in some capacity. A slow Internet means halted productivity. Make sure you have a reliable router, and are connected to a server that promises minimal dips in service.

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Laptop

While I did say it’s important to get that office feel going within your home, sometimes you need a change of scenery. With a laptop, you can do work from anywhere in the house (and beyond). On those nice days, instead of sulking in your room, take it outside and soak up some sun while you work on those spreadsheets. Just make sure you’re still within range of your Wi-Fi connection!

Bluetooth Headset

Any handless set will do, actually. Since you’ll likely be communicating with coworkers and supervisors over the phone throughout the day, you’ll want to be able to do so without tying up your hands or cricking your neck for hours on end. If it’s not too cumbersome, you don’t even need to take it off after you hang up; it’ll probably ring again soon enough, anyway.

Multifunction Printer

If you’ve ever dealt with a less-than-stellar printer, you know how frustrating they can be. Invest in a worthwhile printer that also works as a copier and scanner. And make sure you know exactly how to use it. Nothing gets in the way of a productive day like a paper jam.

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Alarm Clock

Since you’re working from home and have little to no physical contact with others around you, you’ll need to make sure to keep track of your time for a variety of reasons. For one, you need to manage your own time efficiently; you won’t have a boss constantly pushing you to finish a project by a specific time.  You also won’t have much frame of reference when it comes to taking a lunch break or when it’s time to quit. A large, visible clock will help make sure you always know when it’s time for happy hour.

Surge Protector

You have all these electronic devices, so of course you’ll need a surge protector. Not only will it give you a much larger number of outlets to utilize, but it will protect your sensitive and expensive electronics from surges (duh!). Beware: not all power strips are surge protectors, so make sure you check the box carefully when picking one out.

Ergonomic chair

You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable. Along with everything else that comes with an ergonomic setup, your chair is possibly the most important piece of the puzzle. Your back will thank you in the long run.

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Flash drive/File cabinet

These two go together like Forrest and Jenny. Simply put, you need a flash drive or external hard drive for your electronic data, and a file cabinet for your physical papers. Make sure you set an encryption password for your flash drive, and you have a lock for your file cabinet, too. Flash drives are incredibly easy to lose, and if your house is ever broken into, your file cabinet might hold some valuable information that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.

Paper shredder

Speaking of having documents fall into the wrong hands, you can prevent this happening by destroying discarded papers beyond recognition. It might be loud and obnoxious, but your boss would be much louder if he found out you lost an important piece of information. Just shred it and be done with it.

Pen and paper

Ah, old trusty. Ever since I started writing online, I’ve gone through about five or six different notebooks. There’s just something about getting your thoughts out on paper before you transfer them to the computer. It helps your ideas flow more freely, and you don’t have to focus on formatting or frozen programs. Just make sure you have a special, lockable place for your notebooks when you’re done using them.

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Featured photo credit: Home Office v 2.0 / Erik Eckel via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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