When you say, “work-from-home,” my mind immediately creates this image of a cozy pair of slippers and an oversized blanket, curled on the couch with a cup of coffee and a dog at my feet. But really, it’s like one of those expectation vs. reality memes where the reality is nothing like what you pictured. (Parents: I know you can agree with me on this one!)

work from home expectation vs. reality meme

When it comes to working from home (especially now in the time of a global pandemic), figuring out your routine, schedule, and best practices for actually getting things done is ever-changing. It’s also incredibly difficult, especially if you have a child(ren) in tow.

For me, my work-from-home routine has been a mix of getting up entirely too early to try to squeeze out as much of the morning as possible, followed by balancing kid-friendly outings and a part-time school schedule, and figuring out random activities to get through the day. It hasn’t been easy, and I know many of us can agree (regardless of whether you have kids in the picture). But learning your own pockets of time, formulating a schedule that works, and finding work-from-home products that support your goals is essential.

Here are some of my tried-and-true recommendations to help you balance it all:

1. A Stand-Up Phone Holder

holder for smartphone when working from home
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This may seem like a frivolous purchase, but this phone stand comes in handy when you want to view your messages without straining your eyes or neck (something that happens often when you’re working from home). It’s also great for Zoom calls or online conferences when you need to have another device in reach (or even recording you from a different angle) without having to avert your eyes.

I’ve used several different versions of this stand over the years, but this one is my favorite because you can have your charging cord fit in the underneath without messing with the stand’s placement. However, this wireless stand is also great because it does cordless charging! The only downside is that because it offers wireless charging, you have to have the stand plugged in somewhere, so it does limit your portability a bit.

Another option that I like is this charging stand for your Apple products. There’s a spot for your iPhone, Airpods, and Apple watch. If you’re an Apple lover, this may come in handy for you to charge everything simultaneously.

2. This Handy, Lightweight Oscillating Desk Fan

fan sitting on a desk in a home or office space
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The summer months are in full swing and regardless of where you are, you’ve probably had a moment or two where you just can’t focus because you’re literally sweating. Working from home should, ideally, be comfortable. Maybe not cozy to the point that you’re falling asleep, by comfortable. When you’re hot, you’re restless and agitated. When you’re hot, you’re not thinking as well or as calmly as you should be.

I purchased this WooZoo fan a few months ago, and it’s been a game-changer. In fact, it’s been such a game-changer that sometimes my boyfriend’s son will sneak it out of my office and into his room for his video gaming tournaments. 😂 Lightweight, portable, and with twist-and-tilt features to get the best angle while you sit, I’d recommend it for anyone trying to get work done during the summer.

3. Adjustable Laptop Desk/Pad

adjustable laptop table
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laptop trayHaving a comfortable workspace goes beyond where you are. It also incorporates your physical desk and layout, and the posture you have throughout the day.

A product I would absolutely die without is this adjustable laptop desk (above). It fits on any flat table surface or comfy couch. You can change the height, the angle, and the surface is made with a material that helps to keep items (mouse, pencils, phone, etc. in place).

If you’re looking for something that’s more flexible and portable, this laptop pad (→) will sit directly on your legs. It also has a spot for your phone, which comes in handy if you’re a multi-tasker.

4. Furniture & Floor Vacuum Cleaner

vacuum to clean your home and office space
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When you work from home, your office might be at the kitchen table, the lawn chair in the yard, the couch, or maybe even your bed from time to time. But when you’re moving from room to room, you start to notice all the places you haven’t cleaned in a few days weeks months. Oops. And if you’re anything like me, you start to obsess about the dog hair on the sofa cushions, the dust under the stove, etc. The list goes on.

Something that’s helped my sanity over the last few months is investing in products (and chore charts) to help create an office space that I actually feel comfortable working in. One of my bigger and better purchases was this IRIS Mattress and Furniture Vacuum Cleaner which has made life incredibly easier. Now, as a part of my weekly routine, I vacuum all the surfaces (bed, couch, pillows – you name it!) before I sit down for my virtual meetings. This gives me a clean house, the illusion of an office space, and honestly makes me less stressed.

5. This Game-Changing Coffee Setup

coffee maker
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To be honest, I wasn’t a big coffee fan until quarantine. When my work-life balance shifted with the virus, I found myself waking up earlier and earlier to get my work done. Which led to coffee and the need for something that was a bit more efficient. I came across this Keurig Duo Coffee Maker a few months ago and it has changed our family’s coffee-making game.

This setup allows for individual cups and full carafes of coffee. It’s great for someone like me who enjoys iced coffee because I can make a pot, throw it in the fridge, and have cold coffee for later while my boyfriend can enjoy a solo cup of hot coffee in the morning. It’s also great space-wise because it condenses your need for two makers into one. If you’re a coffee/tea lover, I would definitely recommend investing in this.

6. Mini Office Dehumidifier

in-home or office dehumidifier
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Tired of breathing stale or super moist air? Getting a stuffy or dry nose? Feeling under the weather? I invested in this mini dehumidifier and it’s been great for my home office. The unit is super quiet, energy-saving, and has an auto shut-off to conserve.

It’s portable and can run continuously (for up to 24 hours!) on a single charge. If you’ve been feeling like your office needs some fresh vibes, this is something worth looking into.

7. Diffusers (For The Tea Lovers)

diffusers for tea
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If you’re a tea-lover, this product is definitely up your alley. The problem with traditional tea bags is that they stick to the sides of the cup, preventing the free-flow of leaves. They also create unnecessary waste with the individual paper and packaging. You can conserve and create smooth tea flavors with these diffusers. Plus, they are made with BPA-free materials that don’t leak harmful substances into your beverage when they heat up. Easy to clean and reuse, they’ve become a staple for my (and my boyfriend’s son’s) morning tea.

8. This Set Of Dry Erase Calendars

dry erase calendars for working from home
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If you know me, you know that I tend to be planner-obsessed. I’ve shared about planners I love quite frequently, but with the shift to working from home (even more than usual) I’ve realized the importance of wall calendars that I (and everyone else in my family) can reference. This set of three dry erase calendars have options for the monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. They are easy to organize, simple to use and reuse each month, and are magnetic to stick easily to your refrigerator or other wall surfaces.*

*Tip: Even if you don’t have a magnetic surface, you can purchase magnetic paper, stick it to your walls, and hang the calendars there!

What Products Do You Love?

These are just a few of the products I love and have helped me navigate the new changes. Working from home can be challenging, it can be fun, it can be rewarding, and it can be exhausting. But it’s important to find products that work for you and allow you to be comfortable and productive.

If you have any suggestions or want to share a product we missed, feel free to reach out! We love hearing what’s worked for you and how we can make this whole work-from-home thing better.

Written by Marisa Donnelly

Marisa Donnelly is a Midwest-born, West Coast-based writer/editor, writing coach and teacher. She is the founder of Be A Light Collective, a virtual and San Diego-based writing+editing services company and the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway.