I recently visited a friend who was setting up their home office and I was giving them some recommendations of what they needed to get setup right away. Between layout, apps, chrome extensions, online services - I've tried everything (I nerd-out on this stuff) and have found the diamonds in the rough.  

Before we get to tools, it's important that you have a good layout for your office. I recently did a quick study of some Feng Shui tips so I could improve the layout of my office. Here's what I learned:

office layout before

A few things I learned were an issue right away:

  • My back was facing the door (in a horror movie this would mean I'd be attacked first)
  • I was facing a wall on two sides which meant I was boxed in and not fully using desk space
  • My back was to the windows which meant for videos my face was always in darkness
office layout after


  1. Now I have my back to the wall which symbolically gives me support
  2. I am facing the door, which for a home office matters as business comes to your through the door so we don't want to turn our back to it.
  3. I have natural light at my face now rather than my back which helps throughout the day when I do video calls with my team
  4. I've free'd up space at the end of my desk that I can use creatively.

(did I mention I used to be an architect... hence the drawings)

A video posted by Cathryn lavery (@cathryn_lavery) on Mar 13, 2016 at 8:19am PDT


Alright now you know a few tips on how to layout your space better, let's get onto all the tools, apps and gadgets I use to stay productive and run multiple businesses.

Workspace Tools:

When you optimize you start with the things you use everyday so you can start improving the tasks that will make the biggest difference. I use a Macbook Pro 13" Retina laptop, fully loaded and these tools to optimize my workspace:  

Roost Stand - Transforms your laptop into an ergonomic desktop workstation. It's height Adjustable and Portable, I bring mine everywhere.
SELF Journal - My daily journal  
Apple Time Capsule - WiFi base station and a no-hassle backup solution  
Humanscale Float Table - This is the desk I use, it's BIG at 72" W x 30" D. It's height adjustable, however I use as a standing desk for 80% of the time.  
Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat - Makes working at my standing desk much more comfortable

Computer apps:

Alfred - Will put your Mac on steroids. I save WEEKS of my life because of this app with all the built in shortcuts and workflows.
- Text expander I use to create shortcuts for things I type regularly. Huge timesaver!  
ByWord - This is what I write every article in (yes including this one).
Evernote - External brain for files, notes, images. Syncs across devices.  
F.Lux - Adjusts your display's color temp, according to location & time of day  
LastPass - Password manager, can create shared password folders  
Skitch - I use this every day for screenshots and mockups. It's quickest and easiest way to relay ideas to virtual team members.  
Slack - Messaging app for teams, Allen and I live on this with BestSelf.  
ScreenFlow - For screen recordings and video editing  
Sunrise - Awesome calendar app, the 'Meet' features makes booking meetings seamless (no longer available)  
RescueTime - Stay accountable of your time; app runs in the background and tracks your productivity  
Transmission - Best way to download torrent files  
VLC - Best way to watch movies on your computer

Chrome Extensions:

Momentum - Nice clean web dashboard  
What Font - Ever see a cool font on a website and wonder what it was? Think no more, this extension will tell you. ListGoal - Real-time email statistics dashboard  
News Feed Eradicator - Procrastination killer. Removes your FB newsfeed. Install it.  
The Great Suspender - Saves computer power by turning off tabs you haven’t used in awhile  
ColorZilla - Choose any specific color from a screen

Online Services:

ConvertKit - Powerful email marketing. I use for LittleMight and CalmTheHam emails (get 1st Month Free if you use this link )
WP Engine - Wordpress hosting. It's fast, secure and has amazing customer service.  
WP Curve - Never deal with a WordPress headache again... seriously love this.  
Dropbox - Save files and access anywhere. This has saved my ass a few times :)  
Grammarly - Makes writing easier by keeping your spelling & grammar in-check.  
Marketers Delight - Excellent WordPress blog theme (Though I'm no longer using it).  
Shoeboxed - Scan, track and organize receipts. Makes tax time a breeze.  
Shopify - Set up a store within mere hours. I use it on both BestSelf.co and Calm The Ham.  

What other tools make your life better? I'd love to know what I'm missing out on.

I’d love to hear what your main takeaways are from this article. Was there anything that surprised you or anything that I missed? Please share it with me on Twitter or tag me on Instagram. Thanks for reading!