Tighten up that home office

Tighten up that home office

Jul 21, 2018    

I spend a lot of time in my home office. Three and a half years in at my company, I am finding that I am more productive around co-workers at the WeWork. However, on days when I have back to back meetings all day, the home office it shall be. Might as well spend some time setting it up the way I like.

Diagram of items below my monitor
I've collected a lot of tech at the bottom of my monitor. It's all black so it doesn't look overwhelming against the dark monitors and table.
  • A) I have a solar-recharging + wireless Logitech keyboard and USB recharging Logitech mouse. Being able to quickly reposition without messing with wires has become a must for me. Behind that monitor is a wired chaos, so I like to keep my work area free of that.
  • B) I’m still carting around a set of Logitech THX home office speakers. They are able to do 5.1 sound but in the Mac world, there isn’t much of reason to do that so it’s only a 2.1 setup now.
  • C) My coworkers complained of my audio quality so I got a mini-compressor microphone that clips to my keyboard (ruining the whole wire-free thing) but I’ve found it’s not too intrusive. My old Mac Thunderbolt monitor had a great microphone, but I found I have to have one of these if I’m not going to use my headset.
  • D) There is an Amazon Alexa on my desk, but honestly it’s in the muted non-listening mode most of the day. I’m probably going to switch most of what it does right now to other devices and solutions right now.
  • E) I’m still rocking my 12-year-old mouse pad from a failed IT project I put 5 years of my life into. It’s a great mousepad.
  • F) I have a “stump” on my desk to prop up a cell phone, slim book, or tablet. Extremely useful. The only reason it’s not in use in this picture is that my phone is being used to take the photo.
  • G) There is a Gaming PC and a Nintendo Switch dock hooked up to the same primary monitor. I have a 4-way 1/8” stereo audio cable switch and a 2-way x 4 port USB switch for my keyboard and mouse. This stops me from having to keep two keyboards on my desk or ever reach behind my monitors to unplug something.
  • H) The monitor itself has a 4-way HDMI input switch, controlled in the bottom right. There is a physical switch puck, which I currently have set to toggle the brightness modes but I’ll probably set it to just toggle the inputs, which I do more often.
Elgato StreamDeck
The d20 serves no functional purpose.

The newest addition to my home setup is an Elgato StreamDeck. It’s a set of customizable LED buttons that are pretty easy to tie to app quick key commands and home automation. This type of hardware would have been much more expensive and harder to use only a few years ago. Thanks to the explosion of Twitch streaming it’s now commoditized and readily available. I’m only beginning to mess with it, but I have quick keys for my company’s chat and video conferencing software set up. I now have a physical button for muting and unmuting myself on Zoom!

Around the monitor
All that declutting continues away from the monitor edge

Taking away most of the wires and clutter, I now have room for my office desk to be pretty efficient.

  • A) I have a two monitor setup with a vertical secondary monitor to the left for always-on secondary apps like Slack. My main monitor is large enough that I can have three work areas side to side across the two monitors which wors well for me. An older MacBook Pro converted to a permanent desktop machine is hidden behind the primary monitor in a vertical dock. The Gaming PC is propped up on the desk as it needs a bit more ventilation when it’s really going.
  • B) I’ve got some serious Logitech brand loyalty. I use a conference room style wide-lens Logitech webcam as it’s versatile enough to be carted with me to team offsites. I’ll probably build a dedicated conference-room in a bag setup later.
  • C) With all this tech you’d assume I’d advocate Evernote or some other digital note-taking tool. I’m actually much more of a paper person. 17 years of working on paper has trained my brain to remember and process more of what I’m hearing if I take notes, whether or not those notes are searchable later. I keep a physical notebook and pad of stickies handy at all times.
  • D) I use a modular magnetic wall organization system to keep spare pens and office supplies off the table but not out of sight, and quickly out of mind.
Caps and white board

I keep most of my organization in spreadsheets and notebooks, but I try to keep a whiteboard handy along the wall to the exit of my workspace for jotting down quick things and tracking a small set of goals. Right now that goal involves dropping weight. That data is in Fitbit and a few other places digitally but we’ll see how long I can keep it up. Bold reminders that progress isn’t guaranteed help.

Also, I clearly can’t decide which baseball team to front. The RVCA hat is from a fun day in Australia when a buddy decided I really needed to keep my forehead out of the sun.