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.  
- 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.