Every telecommuter has a list of essentials to have in their home office. If you were to ask people who work from home for a list of their home office “must haves,” you’ll find responses vary, though. That’s because we’re all comfortable with different things. So what works best for me, won’t necessarily work for you.
In any event, I’m sharing my list of must haves for anyone who might find it useful. After you’re done reading, share your favorites or tell me how silly you think my choices are. I’m always looking for good suggestions for staying focused, organized, and comfortable during the work day.
Oh, and before we get started, I’m required to disclose that there are affiliate links in this post.
My Top 11 Home Office Essentials
I choose a small laptop over a larger computer and monitor for a couple of reasons. The first is that I don’t have a lot of room to set up a giant rig. As most of my work is writing anyway, I don’t need anything giant. I just need to be able to type. The other reason I use a laptop is because I travel often and my Macbook Air comes everywhere with me. In fact, I can fit it in a large purse. I know some of my fellow WAHMs have a large computer system for home and a laptop to travel, but I don’t see the need for two computers. This particular laptop has lasted longer than any other laptop or computer I’ve owned in the past and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s the best investment I’ve made for my career yet.
2. Wireless Mouse
So I’m not comfortable using my laptop’s track pad, even when I’m traveling. My laptop is small enough that I can work anywhere and use a wireless mouse. Plus, like my laptop, the mouse just fits in my purse. There are decent models available that aren’t expensive but will last you a long time. I’ve had my current wireless mouse for almost five years now.
3. Fast, reliable WiFi
I mean, I shouldn’t even have to bring this up but if you’re going to splurge anywhere, it should be to make sure you have the quickest, most reliable wifi available. Go with a reputable company, preferably a household name. When you work from home, you’re only as good as your Internet connection.
4. Dedicated work space
I currently don’t have an office. My family lives in a small house and the little room that was originally designated for office space has been taken over with exercise equipment. However, that doesn’t mean I’m an office nomad. Though I do work at the coffee shop or library from time to time, I also have a quiet spot in our dining room that I use for working. This is my space. My family knows that if I’m here, I’m working. Having a dedicated space to work helps me to get in the zone and tells others I have a job and I take it seriously. When I take my job seriously, others do as well and I’m less likely to be interrupted or distracted.
5. Old school notebooks
When it comes to note-taking, I’m old school. While I do store files, notes, and other important information online, I also like to use my Moleskine to jot down notes and list my daily to-do list. A physical notebook is a matter of preference, of course, but I like to look up and see my list or turn a page to read notes. I also like to have a place where I can quickly jot something down without breaking focus and opening a new app or page. Plus, a notebook is easy to close up and tuck away at the end of the day and looks better than Post-Its everywhere!
6. Multiple port charging station
I have a phone, an iPad, a Kindle, and various and sundry other devices that need charging each day. It can be frustrating to need a charge and find all available space is being used by family members who are also charging. So I bought a couple of multiple device chargers and have one in my office and one in our family room. This way I can keep my phone and iPad juiced up and ready to go as I need them.
7. Clothes that aren’t pajamas
Yeah, I know. Part of the beauty of working at home is the ability to work in one’s pajamas. However, whenever I do this, I can’t get in the proper mindset for work. Getting changed, even if it’s into comfy yoga pants and a t-shirt, tells me I’m ready to focus on work. Working in my pajamas distracts me because I’m constantly thinking about getting changed, curling up with a book, watching TV, or doing anything but work. When I’m dressed, there’s no going back to bed.
8. Google Calendar
I live by Google Calendar. I have one set up for family activities and appointments, one set up for work-related deadlines and appointments, and an editorial calendar for writing projects, deadlines, and planning content for blogs and social media. I’ve had fancy desk calendars, wall calendars, and whiteboards, but I found that all I need is a Google Calendar with alerts to let me know when a deadline is looming. It’s free, easy to use, and I can share it with anyone who is working on a project with me.
I rarely use a phone for work because most of my clients prefer to communicate via Skype. Skype is free to use and offers text, call, or video conferencing. Moreover, I can use Skype to share my screen for presentations and demonstrations.
10. Bluetooth headset
My family doesn’t need to hear work, and work doesn’t need to hear my family, so I keep a Bluetooth headset handy. In fact, my Bluetooth earbuds are one of the items I use most. They’re rechargeable (another item to plug into my multiple device charger), portable, and there’s no wire to keep me chained to my desk so I can walk around during (non-video) meetings. My particular set comes from Play X Store, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. When I’m not using them for work, I use them to listen to music and audio books while running or walking the dog. They’re a definite must-have for me.
10. A reliable invoice program
I don’t play around when it comes to my livelihood. Over the years I’ve learned the importance of keeping impeccable records. This is even more important for independent contracts who may have several clients. Keeping track of open invoices, payments, and milestones using a reliable invoicing system is absolutely essential. I use Freshbooks. It’s intuitive, inexpensive, and easy to use.
Not your traditional list of home office essentials
You may notice some items missing that you usually see on lists like this. For example, I don’t have an office chair listed. That’s because I really have no problem sitting in a normal chair each day. I never found the need to buy an office chair because I’m fine with what we have in the house. My back and butt feel fine. That may change over time, but for now, ergonomic chairs aren’t one of my essentials.
I also don’t have a dedicated phone line because I rarely use the phone for work. My clients prefer to do business over Skype, Facebook Messenger or via email. While the option to use the phone is available to all, the truth is, none of my clients really want to use the phone, so I don’t even worry about it anymore.
Another item some people can’t live without but I find unnecessary is a printer. Over the past few years, I haven’t had to print out anything business-related at all. My contracts are sent via email and I sign them electronically after reading. All work is turned in via email or Dropbox as well. So I didn’t even bother to get a new printer when the old one bit the dust.
Home office essentials are subjective. We all have different items we feel are both important for our success and not necessary for daily work. What are the items you absolutely must have?