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Published on November 30, 2020

11 Upgrades For a Better Home Office Setup

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11 Upgrades For a Better Home Office Setup

Working from home is the new norm with the pandemic and with a rise of people looking to start their own business, however not every person is prepared to do that. Even with this pandemic going on for so long, there are still many people who decide to work from a couch or in a kitchen. That or maybe you’ve scrounged up some money to get a few used furniture for you new office.

Regardless of the circumstances, upgrading your home office setup is important. With every passing year, there are new office furniture that can help you be more productive, organized, and more. While you don’t need to upgrade everything every year, it’s still important to upgrade where you can and once every year or so. With that in mind, we prepared a list of some of the ideal home office upgrades to consider.

What Makes These Items Ideal Upgrades?

Before getting into the list, we want to explain why these items are for you. Based on our research, we’re recommending these items as they fit the following criteria:

  • Long-Lasting: This list has some serious high-priced upgrades in their respective categories, however, they’re worth it as they’re made by quality brands. Buying any of the items from this list will ensure that you’re keeping these products around for well over 3 years making it a quality investment.
  • Trusted – Our recommendations are from trusted brands that have a history of providing great quality. Many of these products are products with 4-star ratings or higher from reviewers.
  • Multi-purpose – These upgrades aren’t only for looks but they also improve your overall quality of life. Whether these help you in boosting your health, happiness, or productivity, you’re getting more out of these products than an expensive item that looks nice.

An Ergonomic Chair For Better Posture And Productivity

    How often does this happen – you’ve slumped over your desk with your neck craned over for so long that what was once an annoying ache has become a health concern. Part of the reason that happens so often is many jobs these days require us to sit and chairs. Furthermore, it’s only been in the past few decades where we’ve had decent chairs.

    These days an ergonomic chair is even more important as they are designed to support your lumbar – or lower back. This will mitigate lower back pain and allow you to have more focus on your work. Science even backs this up with a 2003 study finding that employees working in ergonomic chairs reported less negative symptoms and a productivity increase of 17.7%.[1]

    In terms of a proper chair though there are many cheap brands out there with decent chairs, though those aren’t an upgrade. What is an upgrade is getting a chair from a well-known brand like Herman Miller. They build quality ergonomic chairs that are built to last you for years while still providing great quality.

    Buy the Hermon Miller Aeron Chair here.

    Good Quality Speakers To Crank Tunes For Focus And Productivity

      Depending on the beats that you are playing, music can help you get energized or allow you to relax. Either way, these two things will help in improving your productivity. One study from the University of Miami found that those who were listening to music while working finished their tasks with superior quality and speed compared to those without.

      To have an upgrade in your office, it would be good to have a quality sound system. We suggest the Sonos Play1 Speakers. These allow you to play your favourite mood music and wash out ambient distractions and improve your overall focus. In terms of what kind of music works, we suggest getting simple chord progressions, instrumentals or catchy rhythms.

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      Buy Sonos Play 1 Speakers here.

      Soft Light Desk Lamps For Optic & Mentality

        Another part of the desk and a productive work environment is a soft light desk lamp. A soft glow gives your work environment a warm, cozy feeling that mellows the environment and makes it feel less stressful.

        There are also studies that show that exposure to natural light during the day will make a positive impact on mental and physical health as well.[2] So letting the blinds open and the light pour in will help too.

        Our pick of a soft light desk lamp was the Xiaomi Mi LED desk lamp. It has a great light to not cause eye strain and sets a great mood to get into work mode. It also has wifi capabilities which allows you to change the brightness and color temperature amongst other things.

        Get the Xiaomi Mi LED Desk Lamp here.

        A Wireless Keyboard For Relaxed And Speedy Hands

          After spending a lot of time focusing on work, the last thing you want is your wrists and hand to be straining from craning your hands onto a keyboard. Rather than grinning and bearing it, invest in an external keyboard. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome isn’t a pleasant thing to be dealing with. Especially if you plan on working at a desk typing away.

          On top of that, incorporating more ergonomics in your life can improve your overall productivity while of course lowering your risk of causing your body harm. One study conducted by ChevronTexaco found that implementing ergonomic accessories, 44% of the participants reported lower risk levels of injuries, boosted productivity and morale.[3]

          There are many quality external keyboards out there but one brand that is reliable is Logitech. They’ve developed all kinds of devices – including ergonomic keyboards. This upgrade will move your standard keyboard to wireless while also providing a pad for your wrists to rest. It’s a great and affordable upgrade.

          Buy Logitech Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard here.

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          Desks Can Define A Person But Also How Well They Work

            Just as a chair is important, your desk as well can play an important role in your overall comfort. Furthermore sitting at a desk all day can give you a risk towards diabetes and weight gain. With that in mind – and following recent trends in desks – it makes sense to go with a desk that requires you to stand up. After all, standing up will do the opposite.[4]

            For those who have bought a chair though, we wanted to ensure you get the best of both worlds. As such, our recommendation is Vivo’s adjustable converter workstation desk. Not only can it turn into a standing desk for you to work at, you can also bring it back down so you can sit down at it.

            Buy Vivo Adjustable Converter Workstation Desk here.

            A White Board For Ideas and Inspiration

            Despite us having all kinds of technology at our disposal, there are still some limitations in what we have. One aspect of it is that many of us are working on 13” or 23” monitors with that monitor already maxed out leaving little room for anything else.

            In these kinds of circumstances, it’s opportunities of having older accessories that can be helpful. In this case – a whiteboard.

            A whiteboard is able to give you an alternative for jotting down ideas or brainstorming whatever. It’s essentially a space that you can capitalize for all kinds of things. It’s a huge boost in your productivity.

            Our pick is the Lockways Magnetic Dry Erase Board. It’s smooth scratch resistant surfaces ensure it won’t get damaged too quickly. It’s also very easy to clean up anything off of it.

            Buy Lockways Magnetic Dry Erase Board here.

            A Reliable WiFi Router To Keep Your Internet Going

            Since a lot of our work is internet-based – and the fact many work from home – having a stable connection is vital. Since you are at the mercy of your internet provider, having a reliable router beyond the one they provided will ensure you won’t get spotty wifi.

            A good upgrade for a router is the Netgear Nighthawk Smart Wifi Router. It offers fast performance speed with a wireless coverage of 1500 square feet. It can work with upwards of 25 different devices making it a fantastic productivity tool.

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            Buy Netgear Nighthawk Smart Wifi Router here.

            A Trusty Laptop That You Can Count On Not To Crash

            With Mac’s getting an upgraded OS recently, many of the older models probably aren’t able to keep up with the latest versions. Or perhaps Apple is done upgrading them. If that’s the case, it might be a good enough time right now to get an upgrade of your computer.

            Not only will you be getting faster loading speeds with more recent models, but there is a certain level of satisfaction that comes from getting a new – or new to you – computer. That said, it’s important that you consider your own needs for what you are looking for in a computer. Unlike the rest of the other items on this list, do give some thought about an adequate computer.

            If you’re looking for a suggestion, one that we consider a sizable upgrade is the Apple MacBook Pro. It has a 13” monitor and is one of the strongest macbooks around offering 8 gigabytes of ram and 256 gigabytes of SSD storage. Beyond that, it offers a host of other features including a magic keyboard making it easy to navigate and access features quickly, more colors, true tone technology, and wide stereo sound.

            Buy the Apple Macbook Pro here.

            Large External Monitors To Ensure A Screen Doesn’t Get Cluttered.

            Whether you’re getting a laptop or a desktop, chances are the monitor alone isn’t going to be enough. Similar to the white board, having another space to place stuff can be helpful in your line of work.

            In the case of another monitor it allows you the opportunity to save yourself time from hopping between tab to tab or program to program. In fact one study found that by having a second monitor, people’s productivity increased by 20 to 30 percent.

            When going for a second monitor, you want something with a readable screen and one that doesn’t cause headaches or eye strain. Also as a rule, the larger the monitor the better it will serve you as well since it’ll save you from scrolling.

            Our recommendation is the Asus ZenScreen. It’s a 15.6 inch monitor making it portable compared to other monitors. It also is designed to prevent eye strain.

            Buy the Asus ZenScreen here.

            Chargers To Keep All Those Devices Going

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              The last upgrade on the list is of course a charger. With so many devices these days that operate on batteries or need charging, you need a quality charger to keep everything going. Even if you’re not the most tech-obsessed individual the average person at least has four or five devices they use on the regular that need charging.

              But you don’t want to settle with any plain charger though. One we consider as an upgrade is Anker’s Powercore Fusion 5000. The Powercore Fusion combines the reliability of a wall charger and the convenience of it being portable as well. The beauty of this charger is that it charges up your devices – which it can charge many at once – before it recharges itself.

              Buy Anker Powercore Fusion here.

              A Mat To Mark A Devoted Exercise Spot To Boost Circulation And Help With Posture

              One next-level productivity hack is having designated spots for various activities and having rooms devoted to specific environments. On top of that even if you have the comfiest chair in the world, sitting down all day isn’t the healthiest for you.

              You can hit two birds with one stone by investing in a quality yoga mat. Not only can you use this as marking a section of your office for exercise but you can also combat poor posture that a sedentary desk life gives you.

              Even if you’re not big into yoga, there are a ton of basic exercises that you can do. Furthermore, many companies like GM, Google, Apple and Forbes offer classes to their employees. There are a lot of benefits to yoga beyond helping with posture. It also reduces joint and back pain and can energize you too.

              While you can get any simple mat on the cheap, if you want to make a better return on your investment, we suggest the Liforme yoga mat. It is designed to be the most innovative yoga mat on the market with great grip, extreme comfort, and comes with an alignment program. It’s even biodegradable making it environmentally friendly.

              Buy Liforme Yoga Mat here.

              Bottom Line

              With technology developing at such a rapid pace, there are bound to be tonnes and tonnes of upgrades to these devices in the near future. What matters the most, though, isn’t about keeping up with trends but knowing when it’s time to let go of old gear and move on to better gear.

              With this list, you can be safe with purchasing and leveraging these items for several years to come, improving your productivity thoroughly while keeping up with the current trends.

              Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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              Last Updated on August 25, 2021

              Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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              Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

              As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

              Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

              According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

              “Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

              A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

              What Is Your Personal Brand?

              “Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

              Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

              Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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              I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

              A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

              Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

              Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

              Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

              In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

              According to Castrillon,[2]

              “One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

              The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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              As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

              In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

              “if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

              When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

              The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

              Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

              The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

              5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

              These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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              1. Set Your Personal Goals

              What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

              2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

              Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

              1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
              2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
              3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
              4. What makes you different from others like you?

              The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

              3. Write Your Professional Story

              Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

              4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

              Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

              5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

              A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

              The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

              Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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              As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

              Other People’s Stories

              Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

              Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

              Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

              “your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

              So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

              Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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