Connecting with Others
One of the most common improvements you can make for your home office is a better webcam and mic. Here's some recommended gear for that.
A Good Webcam
Using a good webcam is clutch for video calls, and the Logitech C920 falls perfectly between price and quality.
If you want to go for an upgrade, or your giftee is a streamer who needs that 4K quality, the Logitech BRIO will get the job done!
For a CRAZY good setup, check out this Live Stream kit.
Alternative: If you have a Mac and an iPhone, checkout Camo. It will turn your iPhone into a webcam.
One surefire way to make yourself look better on camera is having good lighting. Your camera doesn't have to work as hard to capture you, and you won't look like you're recording in a cave!
There are lots of lighting setups - here are some of my favorites:
Notebooks and analog tools are super personal, but here's what I like:
Tomoe River Journal: I love the paper and how it lays flat. I use this for long-form writing and thoughts.
If you're interested in pens, check out my Pen guide.
For digital communication, there are a lot of apps that I love. Here are a few!
You could grab an App Store Gift Card so that your giftee could grab some of these:
Milanote for organizing thoughts.
Comforts of Home
Working from home also means you need to be comfortable. It also means office amenities are up to you. Making sure you have good coffee and a good, ergonomic work environment are important - both for productivity and health!
When you work from home, you are your own Barista, so good coffee and a coffee maker are a must! I have fully assimilated to the Aeropress lifestyle and love it. I would strongly recommend that - makes great coffee, and is super affordable.
If you're looking for something more heavy-duty, a Nespresso won't let you down.
If you're buying beans you should also have a good coffee grinder. You can't go wrong with this one: Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder.
If you're new to working from you, you probably haven't invested in some important home office gear. The kitchen table or couch was OK for a temporary setup, but longer term, you need a more ergonomic solution. Here are some items that will absolutely make a difference in your posture. Your body will thank you!
Desk Chair! A good desk chair is important for someone who works from home. Steelcase, while expensive, make the best.
If you're looking for something more affordable, the HON Chairs are popular.
Roller Blade Wheels for Office Chairs: OK here me out on this one. I didn't think of it until I saw it on Twitter, but these wheels make the chair sturdier and easier to roll on carpets. I'm a HUGE fan of them.
Home Decor! Decorating a home office can be a lot of fun! While pretty personal, Ugmonk usually has something for everyone, from picture to desk stands and more.
I've also been big into National Parks prints lately. You can get some cool posters from Parks Project.
If it were me, shopping for Star Wars Wall Art would be a good bet too!
NFC Tags: These are a great, affordable way to automate certain things (like turning on lights, starting playlists, etc). With Siri Shortcuts and other smart devices, these can be a lot of fun for the home office.
Home automation can really be it's own gift guide and a giant rabbit hole, but there are some advanced techniques that are worth doing! My favorites are with lighting, which you can read about here. Here is some gear to help with that!
Tech & Accessories
That said, Apple Airpods are still fantastic if you don't need the bells and whistles of the Pro versions. If you're looking for small, wireless, unobtrusive headphones that just work, these are it.
If you're looking for good, sub-$200 headphones, I recommend the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s. They are light-weight, block out most noise, and sound incredible. They are also one of the few sets of headphones I can wear for a long period of time without getting a headache.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Cancelling headphones are fantastic. Whether you work from home, an office, or a coworking space, these will help you focus. And they're great while traveling.
I recently picked up the Sony WH-1000XM4 and I like them. But I haven't had them long enough to feel like I can recommend them...yet.
If you (or who you're shopping for) are more of an earbuds person, these are excellent and just under $25.
Backups & Storage
Cloud / Off-Site Backups: Another important aspect of working online is having solid off-site backups - especially if you work from home. There's only one service I recommend for this, and it's Backblaze.
Portable Hard Drive: With "the cloud" there's less of a need for portable storage, but I still like to have some on me. Here's a few good suggestions:
Network Area Storage
I've been considering this for my home office: the Synology 2 Base Storage NAS. Working across multiple devices and platforms, it would be nice to have a central, network connected drive for me to access. If you work from home, this can be especially nice.
Just a heads up that this the bay only - so you'll have to get some hard drives too. For the total cost, I know some folks who've also on the route of a Mac Mini as their home server. But with the new price hike/refresh, I'm still going with this.
If you need some ideas for a backup strategy, check out what I'm doing:
Smart Phone Gear
Quick Note: I'll probably update this section in November, after I have a chance to play with MagSafe for iPhone. But they recommendations below work for both iOS and Android Phones.
My favorite Qi Charger, that I've used, is the Twelve South Hi Rise. It's fast and doubles as lay-flat charger, so you can travel with it or use it with your AirPods.
Qi Charger Stand - If you're looking for something a little more affordable, this is what I use on my night stand. It doesn't need to be fast, and I'm not traveling with it.
When it comes to cases, I need the thinnest, and that's Peel. Lots of colors, including clear, to show off that Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro.
If you want a little more protection, I've been using the Caudable Lucid Clear. It's thin and can withstand drops of nearly 7ft.
If you want more colors, or higher drop protection, I recommend checking out tech21.
Travel / Bags
After a hiatus from buying a backpack for a while, I decided I wanted a new one for a big travel season I had. I needed something big, but not too big, with space, pockets, and TSA-friendly. The Nomatic Backpack ticked all the boxes. It's durable, flexible, there's lots of places for all sorts of gear, and it expands from 20 to 30 ml. Big enough, and can get bigger. I love it.
This year I traded in my unbranded travel grid for the Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer. It's spacious and helps me keep important cables, dongles, and chargers (as well as a bunch of other stuff) together, even when I switch between bags.
When it comes to portable power, Anker is the best in the business. You can't go wrong with anything they make. Here are a few of my favorite Anker products.
- Anker PowerCore Slim (pictured left). It's light, portable, and packs a big charge in a small device. USB and USB-C.
- Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W. This beast can charge a laptop! I once used it on a week long trip to charge my iPhone at night and it never had to be recharged. Great if you need a lot of power in a relatively small package.
- Wall Charging 5-Port Hub. Traveling with a lot of devices gets a lot easier with this in your bag.
- Anker 30W PIQ 3 (pictured below). This USB-C wall charger is impossibly slim and still 30 watts. It's replacing all of my other giant bricks.
Along with charging devices, you should make sure you have the right cables. Here are a few I make sure to always have on me:
Lightning to USB (iPhone, iPad, Airpods)
Lightning to USB-C (iPhone, iPad, Airpods - faster)
USB-C to USB-C (iPad Pro, MacBooks, most Android/non-Apple Smartphones)
USB to USB-C (A good, versatile, likely to work cable)
Make Home More Relaxing
Working from home means finding creative ways to relax and make it more comfortable. Here are a few ideas.
Good Clothes. Working from home means being comfortable. Sweats and t-shirts are great, but it's also good to have some nice clothes for when you need to go out. Here's a bit of both.
Unmentionables: Mack Weldon. Seriously. Their boxer briefs, undershirts, and everything else they make are incredible. I'm a huge fan. For Women (since Mack Weldon currently only makes men's clothes), I'd recommend meUndies.
Socks: Darn Tough Socks. These are the best socks ever.
Hello Fresh: A meal box subscription is the perfect way of saying, "You don't have to Doordash everything."
There are lots of meal boxes out there, but I've heard the best things about Hello Fresh. These are especially good for households of 1 or 2.