Build out your perfect workstation for the ultimate focus zone.
Working from home can be challenging, especially because you're essentially alone. So, although you have fewer distractions from your colleagues, you'll definitely have more distractions from your environment, family members, and other parts of your home.
So, how do you minimize this and ensure you're focused on your work? By keeping a clean workstation. But how do you get started building it?
We listed the things you need to build a clean workstation. You don't need to buy these all simultaneously (but you're free to do so!), but you can plan your time and budget to reach your ideal setup.
A desk pad is one of the cheapest upgrades you can add to your workstation—and it's more than just a glorified mouse pad. A desk pad differentiates your immediate working area from the rest of your desk. This lets you focus on the task at hand and prevent distractions.
Aside from that, it provides a more comfortable surface to rest your hands and arms, instead of just the wood, metal, or plastic material of most table tops. Desk pads come in various materials, like fabric or leather, so you can pick one that will fit your taste and preference.
There are several more reasons to get a full desk pad, so you should absolutely get one. Best of all, these things usually start at less than $10, so it won't be much of a burden if you want to buy it right now.
Whether you work from home or in an office, you need noise-canceling headphones to focus and isolate yourself from your environment. But if you already have that, it doesn't mean you must always wear them.
That's why you need a headphone stand or clip. You need a place to store your headphones when you're not using them, but you also want them to be accessible in case you need them quickly—like if you're heading into a meeting.
A headphone stand or clip, which costs less than $10, will neatly store your headphones on your desk. With that, your headphones will stay out of the way when you aren't using them but is within easy reach when you need them. As a bonus, it will help you maintain the form of your expensive headphones and prevent long-term damage.
As much as we push for wireless peripherals, it's not always possible. Even if you have a wireless mouse, keyboard, speakers, headphones, and even a wireless camera, you'd still need a power cable to power your monitor, charge your laptop, and connect them.
So, you need to manage your cables. By doing so, you avoid the clutter of wires in the back or under your desk, which could also be a safety hazard. If you don't know where to start, choose a way to organize your wires and cables and pick the one that fits you best.
Most of us cannot live without our phones, and if you like to go out after work, you'd want to have a fully-charged device after you clock out. Since we do not like wires cluttering our workspace, investing in a wireless charger to trickle charge your phone is good.
That way, you ensure you have a fully topped-up device when you turn off your computer. You can even take it up a notch by getting an invisible wireless charger—something we highly recommend in our list of the best Qi-certified wireless chargers.
Wires are one of the biggest sources of clutter, so you should remove them from your desk as much as possible. Of course, you cannot easily remove power cords for your laptop, or if you have a backlit keyboard that consumes a lot of battery.
But it's best to stick to wireless technology if your peripherals sip power, like a mouse or keyboard combo that doesn't have RGB lights. With this, you ensure that your workstation is free from wires that snake on your desk.
Some brands, like Logitech, even provide a common wireless receiver technology like Unifying and Bolt, allowing you to control a keyboard and mouse with just one dongle. This can help save space on your desk and your computer's ports.
If you don't have a large work table, then desk space is at a premium. So, by putting your laptop on a stand or arm, you free up space underneath it to store other things. Furthermore, a laptop stand or arm lifts your computer in the air, giving it better airflow.
And because laptops don't provide the most ergonomic position, lifting it with a stand or arm lets you place it at the most optimal position, helping you maintain a healthy posture while working from home.
An external monitor will help improve your productivity if you work from a laptop. But, just like the laptop, you cannot adjust most monitors to fit your need. So, to ensure you can place your display in the most optimal position, you should invest in a monitor arm.
Monitor arms allow you to adjust your screen as needed—you can change its height, tilt, and rotation. Furthermore, some monitor arms let you install two to three monitors side by side, making it easy to set up multiple monitors.
However, you can't just buy the cheapest monitor arm you see on Amazon. You should first check what you should know when purchasing a monitor arm to ensure you get a model fit for your desk and display.
You might want to turn off your room lights to help you focus if you have your own office. However, your monitor's glare might strain your eyes, making it uncomfortable to work long hours. And since desk lamps take up precious desk space, you might want to forgo them in favor of a monitor light bar.
The best monitor light bars install above your display, saving your crucial desktop real estate. And when you turn it on, it will likely shine directly on your keyboard, helping you see what you're typing.
Its throw might also be wide enough to light up the space in front of your desk, so even if you're not working on your computer, you still get ample light.
As most modern laptops are going for thinness and portability, you might soon find that your computer lacks the needed ports. For example, the popular M1 Macbook Air only has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. So, if you need to attach USB-A peripherals and read SD cards, you need a laptop dock.
You also make it more convenient to transition between portable and workstation modes for your laptop, as you no longer need to attach/detach peripherals individually. All your home-based peripherals will work with your laptop with a single attachment.
Furthermore, some laptop docks even work as external storage, with a slot for an M.2 NVMe SSD—crucial for some devices (like the Apple-silicon MacBook) that don't let you expand their storage.
To build a clean workstation, you must have the least number of wires possible. This reduces the clutter on your desk and the need to manage cables.
If you're using an external display with a laptop, you'll need three cables—one cable to power your monitor, another to power your laptop, and a third to connect the computer to the display. But if your devices have DisplayPort over USB-C, you reduce the cables on your desk.
With this, you can use the USB-C connection between your monitor and laptop to transfer data and power the computer. And if you're smart with your cable management, you can make it look like your entire workstation only needs a single cable to run.
All these accessories will help you build a clean desk and help you focus on getting work done. However, these things cost money. So unless you have a lot of cash, you should take your time building a clean workstation.
We've arranged this list from the cheapest to the most expensive option, so you can start with the desk pad to clean up your space and work your way down the list.
John William Morales, better known as Jowi, is a writer, a career coach, a professional photographer, and a leisure pilot.
He’s been using, discovering, and exploring PCs since Windows 3.1 and has been on board the Android bandwagon since Froyo. In 2023, he also invested in an iPhone and a Mac, allowing him to cover a wide spectrum of consumer technology.
Jowi started writing part-time in 2015 and transitioned to it full-time in 2020. He also finished a university degree with related units in journalism in 2012. But even before he received higher education, he’s been known by his friends and family as the go-to person when anything computer-related requires explanation.