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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
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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

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

    A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

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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)
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    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.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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