When I started working from home a little over one year ago, I felt extremely out of place. I had just turned 23 years old, and most of my friends and classmates were starting their first full-time jobs in the corporate world.

Many of them didn’t understand how I could possibly want to pursue an online business when I had just earned a degree in a high paying field (engineering/computer science) with loads of opportunities.

However, I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Even when I was a little girl, I dreamed of starting my own business, being my own boss, and running my own company.

As a fresh graduate with my entire life ahead of me, I decided to pursue that dream, and I haven’t looked back since. It was definitely the right decision at the time, and I’m excited to continue to produce content that I’m proud of every single day.

Even so, there have been quite a few bumps in the road, especially right after I graduated and started working from home full-time. For starters, my home office was a complete mess. I couldn’t find anything, my inventory was scattered everywhere, papers were all over my desk, and I just couldn’t function.

Through trial and error, I eventually nailed down my top home office essentials that help me stay productive each and every day. The following necessities just might do the same for you.

1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

I don’t think I’m the only one who enjoys listening to music while I work. While there are certain tasks I need complete silence for (i.e. writing), many of my daily work tasks are made more exciting and fun through music.

For example, when I work on listings for my Poshmark store or edit a video for my YouTube channel, I love to have music playing in the background. Since I live with my family currently, it’s nice to have noise canceling headphones within reach so I can block out any outside noise and focus completely on my work and the beat of the music.

Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal states,

“Using noise-reducing headphones can be an even stronger aid to concentration. Headphones can screen out as much as three-fourths of office noise.”

Plus, if you work in a group office setting, you will need headphones anyway so that your music doesn’t distract anyone else. A good set of noise-canceling headphones is the first necessity that I have found gets me excited to work and boosts my productivity throughout the day.

2. This Portable Device

Whether you do most of your work on a computer or very little, this essential will still apply.

I bought an external hard drive back when I was in college, but only after my computer crashed and I lost a bunch of important work.

Still, it turned out to be a good investment. Now that I work almost exclusively online, I have a lot of documents that I don’t want to lose, and I feel more comfortable knowing that I have everything backed up on a portable device.

If you do very little work on your computer, you could consider getting a simple flash drive with less storage for a lower cost. Either way, you’ll rest easier knowing that you have everything saved should something happen to your computer and that peace of mind will help you stay efficient and productive each day.

3. A Really Small Desk

This one might turn a few heads. Why would I choose to have a tiny desk?

Well, first off, my home office space is very small. In fact, it’s really just a sectioned off portion of my room. So, a huge desk would take up way too much space.

Second, I absolutely can’t work in a messy space. It seems that the larger my desk is, the messier it gets. A small desk encourages me to keep only a few key essentials on it, which helps me stay more organized.

Plus, scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found:

“When participants cleared clutter from their work environment, they were better able to focus and process information, and their productivity increased.”

Therefore, a small, clean and tidy desk is another work from home essential that truly does help boost productivity. In the end, it’s worth taking that extra time to keep your space picked up.

4. This Evening Necessity

As I was writing this piece, I got a little stumped on what to include as my final essential. I almost didn’t put this one in, but when I asked my dad what his top essential would be (he works from home as well), he said good lighting.

After that response, I knew I had to include a high-quality light/lamp. If you work from home, it’s probably common for you to clock out at 5, 6, or even 7 PM. By then, daylight is long gone, especially in the winter.

When you are trying to wrap up all your tasks for the day and write out your schedule and to-do list for the next morning, it will be impossible to finish up quickly without good lighting.

So, a high-quality light or lamp is another key essential for my home office space that you will likely benefit from as well.

5. A Water Bottle

This is the final home office essential, and it is perhaps the most important. Every single morning, when I walk downstairs between 5 and 6 AM to make my cup of coffee, I bring my water bottle with me to fill up.

I keep it on the corner of my desk to sip on while I work, and I usually refill it around lunchtime.

Proper hydration is essential for optimal productivity and brain function. In fact, research shows:

“In order to maintain peak levels of productivity, the body needs to be fully hydrated. Just a 1% drop in hydration could lead to a 12% drop in productivity.”

To make sure that I’m the most efficient and productive version of me, I need to be well hydrated. Keeping water nearby ensures that I drink plenty throughout the workday, and a simple water bottle can help you do the same.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this article has shown that you don’t need expensive furniture or fancy tech to optimize your workspace and your overall productivity.

I realized last year that I only needed a few key essentials to work from home effectively, like noise-canceling headphones and good lighting.

When you take away all the bells and whistles, you can evaluate what truly gets you excited to work and helps you focus. Find those key workplace essentials, keep them within arm’s reach, and there is no limit to what you will accomplish.