Up until 2021, I worked a traditional 9-to-5 job. I was in the healthcare and social services field, and there weren’t a lot of opportunities for remote working. If you work in the helping profession, it’s almost a nonstarter that you must be, you know, there to help people.
In the spring of 2021, I quit my job, packed up my entire life, sold my car, and moved to Morocco. This move jumpstarted my remote working career, and I’m now a full-time writer and part-time blogger, working entirely from home and remotely overseas.
These are my top five absolute must-haves for successful work-from-home life. These things that keep me sane and focused while meeting deadlines and building my own small business.
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Top 5 At Home Essentials When You Work From Home
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Work-From-Home Essential #1: A Good Desk Setup
When I moved from Alaska, I took everything I owned in three medium-size suitcases, including my MacBook Pro. I tried to be productive wherever I could find space: on a couch, on the bed, sitting on the floor.
I learned quickly that this is not a long-term solution ergonomically. We ended up getting a dedicated desk set up and an external monitor, a laptop stand, and an external keyboard and mouse.
Even when we travel and I’m working from a café or a hotel, I still take a portable mouse, laptop stand, and external keyboard with me. Yes, it’s a little cumbersome to carry around these things, but proper ergonomics is crucial to working for more than an hour or two at a time.
Favorite Amazon Home Office Essentials:
Work-From-Home Essential #2: Google Chrome
Before I started working from home, I used to use any Internet browser. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, who cares? I didn’t. It all connects to the Internet, right? Until I became a writer and small business owner. Now that I must switch between different projects, different mentalities, and wearing a multitude of hats all day, Google Chrome is an absolute essential.
The great thing about Chrome is that you can create different profiles. Each profile operates independently, with its own bookmarks, logins, browser extensions, and even design and color scheme.
I have different chrome profiles for my professional life, my personal stuff, and my website. Being able to switch between them helps me shift focus in such an unbelievably intuitive way. I can’t imagine juggling everything that I do without it now.
Work-From-Home Essential #3: Plenty of Hydration
Maybe I am a human houseplant, but I need near-constant hydration to function. I keep on-hand plenty of flavored water (thanks to a shameful amount of water flavoring packets and syrups I brought from the states), coffee, and Moroccan mint tea. Plus, having plenty of beverages stops me from snacking all day, another side effect of work-from-home life that I hadn’t quite prepared for.
Adding to the hydration issue, I also keep plenty of lotion nearby because I cannot stand when my face and hands are dry, and I’m trying to focus. I also try to keep an essential oil diffuser going for a lot of the day; it calms me and keeps me motivated.
Favorite Amazon At Home Office Essentials
Work-From-Home Essential #4: A Good, Quick Note-Taking System
Working from home is a double edge sword. While it’s nice to not have the constraints of a physical office, it can be challenging to buckle down and stay focused when you have one million things going on around you. Family, dogs, bills, a running grocery list, endless little tasks that need to get done.
If you’re anything like me, it can be a struggle to focus on your “work stuff” when it is so intermixed with your “life stuff.” I would just take a quick second to pay a bill and realize, two hours later, that I was shopping for dog toys online for the fifth time that week and being extremely unproductive.
Establishing a dedicated to-do/shopping/reminders list that I maintain constantly has been remarkably helpful. I tend to be the kind of person who likes to finish something when I think of it, but if I do that all day, I don’t get anything done. So having a note-taking system that I can refer back to when I get out of my “workflow” means that I can truly focus and not spend all day distracted by various tasks.
I tried a bunch of different to-do list software but ended up just sticking with the native Apple reminders app. I like adding things quickly and taking them off as I go, plus it integrates well between my computer, phone, and iPad.
Work-From-Home Essential #5: Speech-to-Text and Grammarly
This one might sound weird for a professional writer, but I have pretty severe carpal tunnel. I’ve been dealing with it for years now, but I’ve kind of just realized that typing all day, every day is not healthy for me.
Thankfully, voice dictation has come a long way in the last few years, which means that I can speak much of my writing, and just fine-tune it manually. While it’s not perfect and can sometimes be a bit cumbersome, voice dictation is vastly superior to spending hours and hours typing manually.
There are several professional voice dictation software options out there, but again, I tend to rely on the native dictation right through my MacBook Pro. It’s not perfect but it does the job well. Sometimes the translations can be a bit funky, which means I have to go back through and proofread very carefully, or I’ll be turning in nonsensical sloppy copy (and nobody wants that).
This brings me to my last essential, which is my Grammarly subscription. I love Grammarly. It’s another thing that I use constantly. Grammarly acts as a second pair of eyes to help me proofread, which is especially useful since I rely so heavily on voice dictation.
These are my five biggest work-from-home essentials. I could probably function without them, but I think my day-to-day work-life would be much harder and take a lot longer. I love the work-from-home journey, and I’m always excited to learn new tricks, tools, shortcuts, and hacks to make working from home even easier and more streamlined.
Are you ready to quit the 9-5 and take the plunge? If starting and profiting from a blog is on your to-do list this year, start here: 3 Things You Need to Start Your Blog.