My Favorite Home Office Items for 2021

When reflecting back on 2021, a year many of us spent working from home, I thought it might be nice to reflect on the things that worked — and the things that didn’t. While this post is not pen and ink related, I suspect a lot of folks can relate to the need to upgrade their home office — whether you were working from home or just spending a great deal more time at home.

Stuff that worked:

Standing Desk from Ikea

I didn’t think I needed an electric powered standing desk but I love it! Yes, Ikea has hand-crank models but do yourself a favor, if you’re considering a standing desk, spend the extra money for an electric powered model. First thing in the morning or late at night, cranking frantically to adjust your desk is not something you want to be doing.

Apple Music and AirPods Pro

After half-heartedly futzing around with Spotify for several years, I bit the bullet and switched to Apple Music. I am an Apple user through-and-through. While Apple Music isn’t perfect, I find it easier to make playlists, add new music  and even find new music. I don’t know why Apple Music is easier for me to use, it just is. I also OD-ed on podcasts using Overcast and a lot of videos on YouTube.

Rediscovering my Filofax

Thanks to some serious housekeeping and mutual enthusiasm over the Filofax from my pal Julia, I rediscovered my old Filofax and have been using it for notes and planning. Like many, my planning needs changed over the past two years. I have gone from working for the same company to freelancing to a new job all in the past two years, all while social distancing and often working from home. My planning needs have changed dramatically, as I’m sure its been for many other people. Switching to a system that allows me to quickly and easily add or remove pages and sections has made it a great new-old option for me.

Office Chair

I tried an assortment of different chairs over the past 18 months since the start of the pandemic and I had yet to find a good one. Like so many people, I grabbed whatever I could find at Ikea initially. As you’d expect, “any old chair” didn’t really work well. I tried a couple random purchases from Amazon and a kitchen chair without much better luck. But lo and behold, as I was planning this post, my DH rolled a secondhand Herman Miller Aeron chair into the office as my Christmas present. He was a little unsure if it would be a good gift but I love it! My chair is the small size, which, to some, will look a chair for a doll but when you’re only 5’4″ on a good day, most chairs are just too big. o, I’ve got my Goldilocks chair… finally.

Stuff that didn’t work:

I tried upgrading my lighting set-up for the blog with some of the more streamlined flat panel LED lights. Worst decision of my blogging career. I am sure that someone else could make them work but I tried recalibrating my set-up repeatedly and still had to retouch my photos to try to get more accurate color to no avail. One morning, practically in tears of frustration, I took the new slimline LED panels and buried them in the basement and reinstalled my giant fluorescent tube-powered soft box lights. While i was disappointed that I couldn’t get the LED panels to work to my satisfaction, reinstalling the old soft boxes was such a relief it was hard to stay too upset at the wasted expenditure.

Did your office set-up change over the last year or so? What has worked for you and what are you still fine-tuning?

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I got a new office chair which has been delightful, wish I’d upgraded before now.

    I also switched to a Hobonichi planner. I’d been using Erin Condren for a few years but there’s just not enough space in the vertical layout and not enough day space in the horizontal. I’ve tried dozens of planner systems over the years and really tried to stick with EC but it just wasn’t to be. I also switched to Artline fine 0.4 colour pens for colour co-ordination 🙂

    And, I’m trying to get back on the GTD wagon!

  2. Glad to hear you are not working at the kitchen table. Totally have the same issue with my LED ambient lighting – it makes me so crazy I prefer to work in the dark. I’ve been working remotely for nearly 5 years so a chair was very important, I found a very comfortable one at Costco (a true.wellness). The lumbar is perfect, as is the padding and it only cost me $250. I opted for an L-shaped desk (I have 4 monitors) and the keyboard tray houses my docking station. Comfort and economics are paramount.

  3. You said: “I am an Apple user through-and-through.” Please stop using Apple products. Apple kowtows to Communist China. Apple benefits from Chinese slave labor. Apple lobbies against anti-genocide acts targeting China. Apple’s Tim Cook struck a $275 billion deal with China to ease China’s crackdown on Apple’s corrupt business there.

  4. I’ve worked remotely for several years (pre-pandemic). A month or so ago I purchased the Lofter Computer Monitor light on a whim as I just can’t find a desk lamp that works for me. Best purchase I’ve made in a long time and wish I’d found it ages ago. Love it so much that I purchased one for my husband and another for my second monitor. A solid gold purchase! Frees up a lot of desk space for my work manuals.

    Regarding your Filofax. I use an A5 FF Original for my work. 3 years ago I purchased the JACKCUBE design book stand. It’s fabulous. I can keep my FF open over my keyboard and then just slide the keyboard under the stand at the end of the day. Due to the nature of my job (medical coder) I do use my FF constantly. A-Z tabs as a filing system FTW!

    Enjoy your post Christmas week!

  5. Congratulations on the Aeron. Awesome chair for ergonomics and I love that it comes in different sizes. The Small would also be my pick.

  6. Biggest set of changes for myself was completely moving into my own office room. Painting it just the right shade of purple, building a new computer… I made a lot of aesthetic changes for the most part, but I found that having a room that felt “right” was the most important thing for me. I still need to work on adding some more lighting in my computer corner, and I have more art to get up on the walls. Ideally I’d like to redo my computer desk at some point, but I am finding that I am extremely picky in that regard because I need a lot of space for all my screens and my computer. A 2022 project perhaps.

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