2012 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: The Home Worker

I’ve been working from home since 2009. In that time, I’ve got a good handle on what makes a useable and effective home office. Here are some gift ideas for the home worker on your list, culled from the items I use and enjoy every day.


1. IKEA Galant Desk. I have a peculiar quirk that requires me to have my entire forearms on the desk while I’m typing. I push my keyboard and mouse far from the edge of the desk, so I need a desk the size of a battleship. The IKEA Galant desk is it. It’s nice and simple with a wide, flat surface and four legs. At $150, it’s quite inexpensive.

2. IKEA Galant cable management tray. This simple, five-dollar tray screws into the underside of a desk and neatly holds all the cables and cords. It’s a simple thing and I love it.

3. Radtech OmniStand. This adjustable stand raises my laptop to exactly the right height. With six viewing angles, from 0º to 54º, you’ll find one that works. It’s solidly built, won’t scratch your computer’s underside and folds nicely for storage (I often bring it to the library). $54.95.

4. The Glif iPhone stand. This thing is so insanely handy. For starters, I run NightStand HD as a desktop clock, and the Glif keeps it at a nice viewing angle. iOS notifications let me keep on top of incoming tweets and, when attached to a GorillaPod, the Glif turns my iPhone into a hands-free video conferencing device.

5. Staples Mission Faux Leather Letter Tray. Inbox management is important. I keep one of these faux leather trays on my desk. It works well and looks nice. About $23.

6. IKEA Patrik Chair. I know that one’s choice of chair is highly subjective. I like the Patrik chair because it’s sturdy, both in construction and material. It’s also comfortable and, I admit, resembles those cool Djinn chairs from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


1. The Emergent Task Planner. David Seah’s task planner is an essential part of my daily routine. It lets me list the high-priority items I must complete, estimate how long they’ll take and record the actual amount of time I spent on each. I can also capture incoming stuff and work out scratch information. There’s a great 75-sheet pad on Amazon. $12.

2. 3×5 index cards. You can get these for next to nothing, almost anywhere. Anything that comes “in” while I’m working — a request, an idea, a delegated task, something that requires follow up — is written on an index card and dropped into my inbox. Aaron Mahnke sells very nice Capture Cards ($5.00) that are of heavier stock than the cheap ones and feature a nice design (Disclosure: Aaron is a friend and my partner on the Home Work podcast).

3. Fisher Space Pen. I love these things. They’re extremely durable and write in nearly any condition or orientation. Raining? No problem. Up against a wall? No problem. They fit in a pocket and are always ready to go. About $16.

4. Fieldnotes Brand notebooks. I love these notebooks dearly. This is not “the legendary notebook of Picasso and Hemingway ” It’s a blue-collar utility that’s ready to work. I use mine as a mobile inbox/to-do list, but you can use yours for anything you like. $9.95 for three.


1. Billings from Marketcircle. Billings is my choice for invoicing/time tracking. The menu bar timer is great and the invoices look super, too. Plus, it syncs with Billings Touch for iPhone. I’ve used Billings for years and am very happy with it. $39.99.

 2. OmniFocus. The definitive Mac project management software. This application does more than I can describe in this post. Project management, task creation, location tracking, and so very much more. This is the solution the home worker on your list wants, hands down. $79.99.

3. You Need A Budget. It’s hard to get excited about financial software, but You Need A Budget (YNAB) almost gets me there. YNAB encourages you to create and stick to a budget, not simply track dollars in and dollars out. You assign each penny you earn a job. Eventually, you get ahead of where you need to be financially. The support staff are top-notch, too. $60.

4. Evernote Premium Account. Evernote is my external brain. I use it for long-term storage of reference material, or information that doesn’t require action but may be important some day. It works on almost any device  you can think of and a premium account offers larger upload limits, premium support, offline notes and more. $45/year.


1. iPhone. I’d love to recommend the iPhone 5, but I’im still using the iPhone 4S and won’t recommend something I don’t use. The iPhone is the my favorite computer. It’s always there and does just about everything I ever want. It’s the tool I use more than anything else on this list.

2. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones. These are the headphones I use to recored all of my podcasts, listen to music and drown out the din of my noisy kids. Wait, did I say that? They sound great, cancel noise and are comfortable, even while I’m wearing my glasses. About $100.

3. Rode Podcaster USB mic. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, and think the Rode podcaster is the best USB mic you can buy. If the home worker on your list does a lot of podcasting, recording, singing or teleconferincing, you can’t go wrong with the Rode. It sounds fantastic and is well-built. $229.

4. Mophie Juice Pack. An external iPhone battery is all but necessary. There’s no way a working professional can get buy on the iPhone’s internal battery. When my iPhone battery drops down to 20%, I flip on the Mophie and that gets it back up to 80%. They’re sturdy and charge quickly. Anyone will be thrilled to have one. $95.

That’s my list of gifts for home workers. Good luck shopping, and check back tomorrow for another gift guide post: gifts for parents.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Amazon. This means I receive a commission if you follow an Amazon link on this site and then make a purchase. My credibility is extremely important to me, therefore I only endorse products I have personally purchased and used. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.