Gadgets to Make Working From Home More Fun
Studies continue to show that what we see and interact with directly influences our well-being. With so many of us still working from home that can be pretty chaotic, or even… grim. Whether you’re working from a tiny corner of your bedroom or sharing a home office with your kids or spouse, here are some tips for making your work-from-home space more fun.
Make your office environment inviting.
While you may not have had any plans to work from home 18 months ago, if you’re like so many former office-goers that are now clocking in from home it’s time to lean into the working from home opportunities. You can wear slippers to work every day if you want, you can make it smell the way you want, and no one is going to blink an eye at your retro Kiss fan memorabilia.
Consider the elements that bring joy or happiness to you and look for ways to integrate those comfort faves into your working area. Here are some suggestions:
- Nice smelling candles are an office environment faux pas but totally acceptable at home (just don’t light anything on fire).
- Pick a cute or inexpensive diffuser to add a little moisture to the air and use scents to motivate, calm or just smell nice.
- Textures like soft or fuzzy materials can give you little hints of comfort when you feel stressed or frustrated. Consider a small, soft sherpa rug for your toes or a soft throw blanket for your chair.
- Use framed artwork for color, energy, or mood enhancement. Add art elements that help you focus, encourage calming, etc.
Add some life and greenery with plants you’re (less likely) to kill.
Studies have proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent!), reduce stress levels, and boost your mood. But if – like me – you kill every plant that enters your home, plants in your workspace are just a reminder of your gardening failures.
That’s why I love the Click & Grow Smart Garden 3, available for $99.95. Click & Grow is a desktop hydroponic system that lets you grow plants anywhere, handling the watering, light, and nutrients so you automatically for you. You get 3 basil plant pods with your unit, and “planting” then takes just seconds.
Click & Grow offers more than 60 plant pod varieties, from herbs to salad ingredients to flowers. There’s even a “Sprouting Guarantee” – if your plant doesn’t sprout, they’ll replace it. Or you can use the system to plant and grow your own seeds or seedlings.
Bonus: with pods like “Tea Lovers kit” and “Salad Lovers Kit” you can have fresh additions to lunch or your afternoon tea at your fingertips.
Tune out your kids or roommates and add music with noise-canceling headphones.
Nothing creates a better path to focus and efficiency than creating tuning out the distractions of kids doing Zoom classes, your neighbor’s anxious dog, or the gardener’s leaf blower. FOr that you need more than a desktop speaker – you need noise-canceling headphones.
The key points to look for in choosing a set of noise-canceling headphones are reliability, cost, and comfort. You can find a huge variety of inexpensive wireless bluetooth earbuds on Amazon, many of which claim to be noise canceling. But their sound quality is typically poor, with connectivity issues and limited battery life.
My favorite wireless earbuds with noise-canceling are Apple’s AirPod Pros. The retail at $250 so they are definitely an investment (even when you can find them on sale for $199), and they’re more useful when connecting them to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac (though they are compatible with non-Apple products). But with their seamless connectivity, battery life of up to 24 hours or more from a full charge, sweat and water resistance and long-term reliability, paying more for quality that lasts is a better path than cheap knock-offs.
Pro tip: create playlists aligned with what you need for specific parts of your day. Apple Music offers “Music by Mood” playlists where you can find curated playlists like Motivation, Focus, Feel Good, and more.
Nothing says “I can’t hear you and if I close my eyes you’re not even there” like slipping on a pair of “can-style” noise-canceling headphones. We love the Plantronics Backbeats Pro 2, but since they’ve rebranded to Poly Plantronics has been focusing on office call center headsets over their consumer products. Consider the JBL TUNE 750BTNC Wireless Over-Ear Active Noise Cancelling Headphones as a good, reasonably priced ($129) alternative. Tech Radar reports they “sound great, look great, and fit well.”
Get photos that make you happy, without the distraction of social media:
Break your social media distraction by bringing the best part – the photos – to your desk. With Aura’s Carver 10.1 Inch HD WiFi Smart Digital Picture Frame ($169) you can send photos to the frame directly from an app on your phone, letting you bypass the mindless of minutes of scrolling when you’re looking to relive some good times.
Use the Aura app to invite trusted friends and family to add photos to your frame directly and your desk photos will be constantly up to date with the latest memories and adorable shots of your loved ones. There a variety of beautiful frames to fit any style or decor preference, or to accommodate however much space you have available in the corner you’ve carved out for yout WFH space.
The penny pincher in me thinks that the best part is that Aura offers unlimited cloud storage for your photos. Lots of less expensive WiFi enabled digital frames on the market charge a monthly fee for cloud storage, or require you load photos onto a flash drive in the frame.
Bonus: from plug-in to photos on display takes about 5 minutes through the Aura app. It was one of the easiest tech gadget set-up processes I’ve experienced.
Marry form and function
When it comes to making your work from home environment more enjoyable to be in, aim to reduce clutter as much as possible. I know, I know, this can be easier said than done. But products with dual functionality can help.
One example is an adjustable brightness desk lamp (for lighting those video calls) with built-in wireless charging functions for Qi-enabled devices. This LED Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger and USB Charging Port, only costs about $30 but offers 5 Brightness Levels, touch-controlled dimming and the ability to charge your compatible phone just by setting it down on the base.
Or consider a wireless charging mousepad to keep your wireless mouse always at the ready. Unobtrusive, large and ultra functional, the Corsair Qi Wireless Charging Mouse costs $80 but will be so much more fun to use than your tiny foam square – we promise.