15 must-have things under $30 to help you work from home
Deck out your home office on a budget.
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Maybe you work from home all year round. Or maybe you've suddenly (and unexpectedly) transitioned to remote status thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. No matter what the reason, working from home is definitely different than working in an office—and it definitely requires the right setup. To help you adjust—and be equal parts productive and comfortable—we've rounded up 15 things that are perfect for anyone who works from home. The best part? They're all less than $30.
1. A lap desk so you can work anywhere
Let's be honest: Despite all the articles telling you that you should work from a designated "office" area in your home, chances are high you end up working from your couch or even your bed (it's just too tempting!). And rather than balance your laptop on your lap, use this foldable lap desk instead. According to reviewers, it's sturdy and spacious—it can fit laptops up to 15.6"—and has an easy-to-adjust desktop that tilts your laptop to four different angles for optimal viewing.
2. A wireless mouse
Using your laptop's trackpad for 8+ hours straight is basically a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome. That's where a wireless mouse comes in handy (pun intended). This one has over 1,100 reviews because it's comfortable to maneuver thanks to its contoured design and works incredibly well on most surfaces with no delay or stuttering.
3. An adapter for Mac users
Everyone who owns a Mac knows the struggle that is buying a new tech accessory (like a new webcam) only to realize it requires a USB—which your laptop is lacking. Until now, thanks to this Apple adapter. It plugs easily into your Macbook (or anything with a Lightning port) so you can plug in all of your USB-using devices.
4. A lamp that clips to your desk
Desk lamps are great. Desk lamps that clip to any surface (i.e. your kitchen table or your lap desk when you're parked on the couch) are even better. Reviewers like that this one from Target—which costs just $6!—has a flexible gooseneck that can easily be adjusted to your preferences and provides the bright light you need to work without straining your eyes.
5. A top-rated sound machine to help you focus
The dog barking, your neighbors blasting rock music, your child asking you to come play—there are tons of distractions when you work from home. To eliminate some of them (or at least drown them out when you're in that 9 a.m. meeting), use a sound machine. This one has over 1,300 glowing reviews from Walmart shoppers because it has a range of soothing, pre-recorded nature noises and can be either plugged into the wall or used with batteries. People also say it has great sound quality and volume control.
6. A power strip for all your devices
Printer, laptop, monitor, oh my! Your work-from-home setup probably involves a lot of things that need to be plugged in. And one measly outlet simply won't cut it. A power strip like this one not only triples your plug-in power (six outlets compared to two!) but it also acts as a surge protector to keep your devices safe while you work. Bonus: It even has USB ports so you can plug in your laptop or phone directly.
7. A cushion to prevent back pain
Hunching over your computer for hours on end might be good for your productivity but it's not good for your back. Take it from our audience development manager—a lumbar support cushion can make a world of difference when you're sitting at your desk. This one is praised for being versatile (it fits most chairs and carseats) and for being comfortable yet supportive (it prevents slouching and promotes proper spine alignment).
8. A device that extends your Wi-Fi range
Even if you have the best router and the best Internet service, some Wi-Fi can be hit or miss. And when you're expected to call into an important meeting or meet an important deadline, that's not okay. Meet the Wi-Fi range extender. With nearly 700 reviews, this affordable one from Walmart easily boots your Wi-Fi to be able to reach those areas in your home with spotty service with just the press of a button.
9. Wipes to keep your electronics clean
PSA: Studies have found that your laptop is dirtier than your toilet seat. Yuck. Not only that but dirty screens make things like video conferencing and presentations much harder to see. The solution? These electronics wipes. While they're gentle and nonabrasive, they also effectively remove smudges and streaks without leaving any residue behind.
10. A flash drive to store important files
Now that you're working from home, all those important documents and confidential information that you deal with on a day-to-day basis is being stored on your laptop. But what if said laptop crashes? Yikes. Protect all of your files by backing them up on a flash drive. This SanDisk one—which has a sizable 32GB of storage space—doesn't require any installation or set-up and also offers password encryption for extra protection if you need it.
11. An affordable coffee maker
RIP break room—which means RIP free coffee from the communal coffee maker. While you could shell out for a fancy espresso machine, you can also get a good coffee maker on a budget. Like this one, which our experts dubbed the best value coffee maker you can buy. It brews a tasty pot of joe and has an easy-to-set timer that you can program to have your coffee ready for you when you wake up.
12. A mug warmer to keep your coffee hot
Speaking of coffee, you don't want to get up 20 times in an hour just to reheat your cup of joe or, worse, drink cold coffee. That's why this mug warmer has so many rave reviews. It plugs directly into your wall and, according to happy coffee-drinkers, keeps your beverage the perfect temperature for hours.
13. A calendar for managing your schedule
Between endless meetings, Zoom presentations, and phone calls, your schedule is probably pretty hectic. And when you work from home (and there's no coworkers to remind you about that meeting in 10 minutes), it can be tough to keep track of it all. This weekly dry erase calendar can help, though. It has enough space to fit in all of your daily and weekly must-dos and, when Saturday rolls around, you can simply wipe it all off and start fresh Monday.
14. A pack of high-quality pens
Pens are one of those things we take for granted. But between taking notes during your weekly meeting and jotting down reminders while you're on the phone with your boss, they're a must-have for anyone working from home. My favorite pens—and the favorite among hundreds of office workers—are these Paper Mate gel ones. They write incredibly smoothly, don't smudge easily, and come in a rainbow of fun colors.
15. A cushion for your wrists
All that typing and mouse-clicking can cause some serious wrist pain. To prevent that—and protect your poor wrists—consider using a cushion like this one. Reviewers say it's the perfect height and firmness to keep your wrists at a comfortable, neutral position and that it stays firmly in place thanks to its nonskid backing.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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