Or in blogger speak, “The 10 Tools I Used to Build a 6-Figure Business.”
I’ve been getting a few questions about my current home office set up, so I thought I’d put together a quick post about it here.
While I’m blessed to be able to work from anywhere, I find I’m most productive at home. I’ve been working from home full-time for more than 8 years, so there’s definitely some comfort there.
I actually have two workstations, one upstairs and one downstairs.
The downstairs workstation occupies a roughly 3 foot by 4 foot corner of our living room. That 12 square feet (1.1 square meters) isn’t a lot of room to work with, but since all my work is virtual, it’s enough space for me.
This space basically serves as my broadcast studio as well; all but a handful of The Side Hustle Show interviews have been recorded here. (You’ll notice no sound treatment on the walls, something I might add in the future.)
Let’s dive in and see what I’m working with. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
My computer is a Dell XPS 13 laptop. I bought it from Amazon in 2013 for around $775, just before starting Side Hustle Nation. I had some issues with it initially but it’s been pretty solid since then, and has traveled with me all around the world.
I really like how light and compact it is, and will strongly consider the new model XPS 13 when it comes time to get a new machine. Especially considering the price, I’ve gotten tremendous value from this laptop over the last 4 years.
The biggest drawback on mine is the small hard drive, only 128 GB. To combat this, I move all my big files (mostly videos) to a backup external hard drive.
This is the newest addition to my home office set up and was kind of a Christmas gift to myself.
It had been years since I’d bought a monitor and I was seriously surprised by how affordable they are now. I think my eyes are still adjusting to this one, but this is something I should have done years ago.
It connects to the laptop with an HDMI to Mini DisplayPort cable.
It’s just the Amazon Basics wireless mouse.
It seems to have decent battery life, feels fine in my hand, and gives you a little red warning light when the battery is running low. I like how the USB receiver is super-compact; you can barely even see it in the picture.
The Logitech C920 is the gold standard when it comes to webcams, and is Amazon’s bestseller in the category.
I love this thing. It shoots in widescreen HD, adjusts the lighting automatically, and is about a million times easier to operate than a DSLR.
The problem I run into is that it connects to the computer via USB, and the laptop only has two USB ports. If I want to use my microphone at the same time (which would be every time I plug in the webcam, although I could use the Logitech’s built-in mic), that means unplugging my wireless mouse. Which brings me to…
Backup Bluetooth Mouse
Sure, I could get a USB splitter and solve this problem, but I had high hopes a bluetooth mouse would permanently free up one of my USB ports. (And truth be told, I didn’t know such a product as a USB splitter existed.)
The bluetooth mouse I got from Microsoft sucks. Glitchy and loses connection all the time. I only use it as a backup.
This trusty Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB mic has been with me since episode 1. It delivers great bang-for-your-buck in terms of sound quality and ease of use.
As the show has grown, I’ve contemplated upgrading to a “fancier” mic, but love the simplicity and portability of this one. Figuring out how to work a mixer isn’t high on my priority list, and this little workhorse doesn’t require one.
Along with the laptop, it’s been all around the world with me over the past few years — and is often a “conversation starter” with airport security.
Microphone Boom Scissor Arm Stand
This Neewer boom arm, which you can see clamped to my window sill, freed up quite a bit of desk space and makes me feel like a much more legit podcaster when I use it.
When I’m not using the mic, it folds neatly out of the way.
What else do you see in the picture above?
The earbuds are important to reduce echo while in meetings or recording.
The pen and paper is my good old fashioned to-do list. Even though there’s always a lot on it, I make an effort to itemize my top priority tasks each day.
The two pictures on the wall are photo montages Bryn made of me and baby.
And the little blue post-it? It says:
- Email is someone else’s agenda.
- Decision helper: Either “Hell Yes!” or “No.”
Treadmill Desk Setup
Upstairs, the baby lets me use half of his room to park my second workstation. I have a pretty sweet treadmill desk setup as shown below.
Because the room is no longer 100% dedicated to business use, I didn’t claim it as a home office deduction, but I think the argument could be made that this half of the room should be allowed.
It’s not like I’m using the treadmill to go running! (more on that below)
Aside from the external monitor, which is several years old now, the main components of this workspace are the treadmill and the desk.
It’s really lightweight and flimsy. I don’t think I’ve broken 2 mph on this thing, but it’s perfect my walking-and-working pace. The first one I ordered died unexpectedly but it was under warranty and the company sent me a new one, no questions asked.
I start almost every day with 60-90 minutes of walking on here. It feels good to get the blood flowing, get some steps in, and knock out a couple miles before 9am.
I should note this isn’t the original treadmill I had; my first was a much heavier-duty fitness treadmill I found secondhand on Craigslist. But it weighed almost 200 pounds and wasn’t exactly easy to get into the upstairs office!
In either case, the biggest challenge with using traditional treadmills to make a treadmill desk is what to do with the control panel. Which brings me to the …
When Bryn and I were first building the treadmill desk, one adjustable height desk kept coming up over and over again in different blog posts and forums: the mythical IKEA Jerker desk.
(There’s even a Facebook page with 1600 likes trying to convince the company to bring it back.)
It had already been discontinued in 2011, but I was able to find one on Craigslist.
I drove to San Francisco to pick it up, and then promptly proceeded to destroy it.
To fit the control panel, we needed to cut a big hole in the lower desk surface. My friend Simon came to the rescue and with a little jigsawing and little routering, we were good to go!
You may still be able to find one of these late model desks lurking around your town, but the good news is standing desks are WAY more popular now than they were then. And on top of that, there are even lay-flat treadmills that eliminate a lot of this issue as well.
I’ve definitely pieced this setup together over the years, and have tried to keep it pretty lean.
What’s your work from home setup like?
Do you rock a multiple monitor mission control situation from a dedicated hustle office? Or do you mainly just rely on the laptop at the kitchen table?