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Published on December 17, 2020

Lifehack CEO’s Guide To a Super Productive Home Workstation

Lifehack CEO’s Guide To a Super Productive Home Workstation

With the pandemic still raging on, many people are forced to move away from their cubicles to working from home. While these are the circumstances we live in now, people are warming up to the idea of working from home or from other locations beyond a typical office.

Even though this is seen as extra measures during these times, this trend is bound to be a viable and appealing option well after this pandemic too. After all, there has been a shift in work culture and even how we work years before this pandemic started.

But there is one snag to this new trend and that is productivity. While some people have been fine working from home or remotely, newer remote workers have had issues with productivity and adapting to this new lifestyle.

I understand that completely and I know that it can be difficult for you. However, this problem can be solved simply by improving your existing home workstation. Even if it’s not too bad right now, having a workstation geared specifically towards productivity has various benefits. Beyond boosting productivity, it can also enhance focus in various skills, increase comfort and workflow.

Best of all it doesn’t take much to make large improvements. To show that, I want to show you my own workstation and what I use every day to enjoy these benefits.

This is my current home workstation:

    Let’s breakdown my workstation setup so you know the essentials for a productive home workstation:

    A Laptop To Work From Anywhere

    A computer is a necessary part to any home office setup of course, and my choice is the Apple MacBook Pro. It’s an all around good laptop designed for those in the creative spaces

    You can get your Apple MacBook Pro here.

    An Extra Monitor For More Screen Space

    Even with a decent sized laptop, the screen can still be pretty small. For those who need the extra space – like myself – consider getting another monitor. The one that I use is Dell’s UltraSharp monitor. Dell has been in the industry since the beginning and makes affordable and quality monitors. Furthermore, this particular monitor is designed to deliver exceptional visuals using vibrant colors and wide viewing.

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    Get Dell’s UltraSharp Monitor here.

    Drop Alt Mechanical Keyboard

    Another consideration is having an alt mechanical keyboard. For my setup, I replaced the mechanical switches from the default brown switches to Kalih Bronze. These new switches allow less key travel and higher typing speed which boosts productivity.

    What’s also nice about this keyboard to me is that it’s wired, ensuring you won’t need batteries. I’ve also gone with the 84 keys profile as that best suits me since it’s longer in width. The wider the keyboard, the further I have to put my mouse away from me. This is good since I want to discourage use of the mouse — it strains my joints if used too much.

    Pick your productivity boosting keyboard here.

    Blank Keycaps For Typing Speed And Less Distractions

    One other productivity hack that I found out over the years is how much letters on the keyboard can be distracting. They’re definitely helpful at first when learning how to type, but after a while, the key labels can be so distracting and stall your productivity.

    To help with that, having blank keycaps for your keyboard can help you in improving your productivity in so many ways. Without key labels on keycaps, it forces you to focus more on your typing skills. At first, it can be difficult to adapt, but over time, your speed will increase as you become more confident in how you navigate around a keyboard.

    Buy some blank keycaps here.

    Wrist Rest To Prevent Strains From Typing

    Comfort is important when working long hours and one item to help with that is padding for the keyboard. This pad is great for the keyboard I’ve got with the width and height being great for me.

    Padding is necessary. Over time, your arms and wrists will strain under prolonged use. It might not seem like it but those issues could translate to health issues which will lower productivity.

    Get your soft wrist rest here to prevent strains.

    An iPad For Small Tasks Done Well

    Tablets are another essential to have as they can be used for a few tasks that laptops struggle to do. I use my iPad for making graphical demonstrations and for ebook reading. This is more optimal than using a laptop, especially when in the middle of a meeting. Beyond that, the lightness of an iPad makes it easy to bring around and to do work in other areas.

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    So I recommend you get an iPad to boost your productivity.

    Screen Protector For Tablets To Reduce Smudges And Have Clarity

    Since I occasionally use my iPad for work, to avoid smudges or debris, I’ve got a screen protector for it. This allows for clear sight and avoids second-guessing small details on the screen. These are fairly cheap items but quite necessary. The only thing to look out for with these ones is there is a higher chance of creating air bubbles compared to thicker screen protectors. This can be alleviated through all kinds of methods such as using a credit card to flatten and push the air bubbles out or simply waiting it out. Sometimes air bubbles resolve themselves.

    Buy a paper-feel screen protector here.

    Specialized Stylus For Tablet Use

    Another accessory that I have that’s helpful is the Apple Pencil. This is the best single addition for drawing on iPad’s I’ve seen thus far. It feels a lot like paper when you’re drawing. It’s a wonderful accessory to have for multiple reasons.

    Get the Apple Pencil 2.0 here.

    Keyboard For iPad To Boost Typing Speed

    The iPad has a touch keyboard built in, but sometimes you’d prefer another keyboard beyond that. Beyond that, having an external keyboard can boost productivity since you won’t have to worry so much about pressing the wrong button.

    The magic keyboard from Apple is easy to carry around and you’re able to type much faster on it I find.

    Check out  Apple’s magic keyboard for iPads here.

    High Quality Mouse For Precise Clicking And Navigation

    While you shouldn’t be using your mouse a whole lot when working – depending on your job – having a decent mouse for when you do use it will help. The mouse that I use on occasion is the Razer Basilisk.

    It’s a very sensitive mouse which speeds up the mouse cursor navigation. The faster the mouse travels, the more efficient you’ll be at those precise clicks and boost productivity. This is also wired, so you won’t have to worry about batteries either.

    You can buy Razer Basilisk mouse here. Or get the updated version here.

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    Mouse Pad For Smooth Mouse Movement

    On top of a mouse, you also want to get a good mouse pad. The one that I find that works with my setup is Razer’s mouse pad. It further improves the sensitivity and accuracy of the mouse I use which is good enough for me.

    Buy Razer’s mouse pad here to work well with your mouse.

    A Electronic Personal Assistant

    Having an assistant is always helpful and one that I enjoy having around is the Alexa Echo. It offers a whole host of services that can help you out, so I consider it a necessary part of boosting your productivity.

    For a budget friendly option, consider the older version. Or you can get the latest Alexa Echo here.

    A Webcam For Video Calls

    A necessary part of my office setup is my webcam. Even before this pandemic started, I managed my Lifehack team remotely and we do many video conferences. Because of this, having a camera is very important, though I don’t believe you need to get a top of the line webcam.

    The one that I use is the Aukey 1080p webcam. As the name suggests, it captures at 1080p – the highest resolution – so people can see me clearly. The bit of saturation that this webcam provides further enhances that clarity. What’s also nice about this camera is that it’s inexpensive, making it a nice budget option for people.

    Get the Aukey 1080p Webcam here and experience it yourself.

    Earbuds For Deep Concentration

    Another essential piece of tech to help you out is headphones. The ones that I recommend are Airpods. Despite their appearance, these are the best noise cancelling earphones on the market. They’re also quite light making them harder to fall out of your ear provided you’re using them for work purposes. You’ve also got the fact it’s an Apple product, so it can sync up with other Apple products. Get your Apple’s Airpods Pro here.

    If you’re looking for an alternative, you can look to Sony’s WF-1000XM3. These are heavier and can strain your ear, but they’re not that bad of a choice if you need something cheaper.

    Proper Lighting For Moods And Focus

    Setting a mood around your workstation also helps in boosting productivity. And what better mood setting is there than having some decent lighting? These LED stripe lights add a nice touch to the work station, provide different colors for feelings and mood and can be connected to Apple Homekit.

    Get your LED stripe light here.

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    Wireless Charger To Charge All Accessories

    Considering the amount of devices that we all have, it’s important to have a charger of some sort. One that I use all the time is the wireless charger from Xiaomi. It only charges your phone, but in this case, it does a good job at that. It’s fashioned in a way that you’ll have a viewable angle of your phone while it’s charging which prevents overcharging. Since it’s wireless, you remove the need of having to deal with more cords.

    Try the Xiaomi’s wireless charger here.

    A Single USB Cable Cord That Can Be Used Anywhere

    USBs are helpful productivity tools as they can be used for all kinds of things.

    The one I use is the one from Baseus. It’s a fast charger cord and works with multiple ports. It can even work as a keyboard cable in a pinch if needed. It’s a generally helpful tool to have. Get the USB cable cord here.

    A Bottle To Keep You Hydrated

    The last part of my setup is a bottle. It’s important for all of us to stay hydrated and one that I like is the BlenderBottle. Out of the many I’ve checked, this is the best bang for the buck. I use it daily as the bottle to hold my protein shake and for water later in the day – I drink about 2.5 to 3 litres per day.

    It’s also very good BPA-free plastic made, safe for washing by hand or in the dishwasher. The only downside to this bottle is that it doesn’t last very long. I go through mine every six months or so. Though, this is to be expected since the bottle itself is cheaply priced. Pick up your bottle here.

    Bottom Line

    So that’s my entire set up that helps me get through the day. I would recommend that you take some of these suggestions to heart, whether that be buying some of these products for yourself or getting alternatives.

    Nevertheless, getting these products has changed my productivity levels for the better and if you’re looking to boost productivity quickly, try these out.

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Woroniecki via unsplash.com

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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