Having a great workspace has been a long long dream of mine. Ask my wife or any of my close friends, they will tell you of how I have always dreamt of this awesome home workspace.
I am not a fun of bringing work back home, but sometimes if I have to work, then I should have a proper productive setup. And because I run a side hustle, working from work is inevitable. So that’s the motive behind my journey to building the ultimate workspace at home.
Before creating a workspace, I considered a number of things; workstation desk + chair, computing, storage, networking and audio. I’ll go through each of them describing where I got them and what it cost me for those who are looking for inspiration or are already building their own workspaces.
Workspace desk and chair
Desk: The most important thing for me is workspace desk and chair. I sit most of the times while working or reading and I tend to use a lot of space. I am not too great with optimally utilizing small spaces. So I went for a desk that spans two corners of the room in an L-shape manner. I thought that would optimize space in the guest room which also doubles as my workspace.
I needed enough leg room so I didn’t want a desk with drawers although this would make it difficult to place stationery and other peripheral devices. So my carpenter went for a brilliant compromise. He instead placed open shelves at one end of the desk. I put my 4TB Seagate personal cloud NAS drive at the lower shelf while my Xiaomi Millet 802.11 AC router together with Huawei 4G LTE sit on the top shelf. The power extension that supplies juice for all those gizmos sits on the floor and all the cabling — Ethernet, HDMI and Power — are neatly tucked below.
My carpenter charged for Ugx 500,000 for the desk.
Chair: For the chair, being a star trek fan, I went for one without an arm-rest akin to the ones the cockpit crew sit on while commanding the Starship Enterprise. This is where I “Energize”. The chair has good ergonomics, is vertically adjustable and has wheels for easy movements. Fun fact, for $2,000, you can sit on full-size, fully operational replica of Captain Kirk’s chair and “Boldly go where no man”
I bought it at game on promotion at Ugx 300,000.
Laptop: I mostly use my laptop both at home and at work. It’s a Lenovo ideapad 310 core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD workhorse currently running Linux Mint 18.2 KDE edition. Performance so far is good although it severely falls short on battery life. Being a programmer and a blogger at the same time, the keyboard is super important aspect when rating a laptop for me. Unfortunately I have not yet fully gotten used to Lenovo keyboards. I prefer Acers instead. But overall, this Lenovo is a real powerful workhorse and I owe it a lot of gratitude for putting bread on the table.
I got this laptop at about Ugx 2.3M from a dealer on Kampala road.
Secondary Monitor: My setup also includes a 22″ 22CWA HP Full HD Monitor. For programmers, having a secondary bigger display comes in handy. There are a number of productivity gains with having a second monitor. You can for instance have your application front-end displayed on one monitor while the code editor is running on another. Changes on the code are reflected on the user interface on the 2nd monitor. But when you have one monitor, you have to keep minimising and maximizing windows to see what you want which is inconveniencing. A 2nd monitor also comes in handy if you are following a video tutorial where you want to watch and do what the instructor is saying.
This monitor goes for $90 on Amazon but shipping it to Uganda cost brought the total cost to around Ugx 650,000.
NAS Drive: For my storage needs, I went for a 4TB NAS drive specifically Seagate personal cloud. I went for a NAS instead of the traditional USB external HDD because I wanted something that could be accessed by all the devices at home — smartphones, laptop and smart tv.
I use it to store my documents, code, backups and ofcourse my personal media. I share it with my wife, so she also pushes her stuff there. As I speak,the drive is already full, so I might be looking for an upgrade in about a year or so.
I did a review of this NAS drive on Dignited. I bought it at $168 (~Ugx 670K) although now it goes for $179.99 on Bestbuy.
Home networking: A workspace setup isn’t complete without good network gear. As you know, Wi-Fi is now like having running water in the house. Oh and by the way, the kids have not even arrived yet. I imagine, I could get worse when they come!
For a home Wi-Fi router, I went to Xiaomi’s $27 Mi Router 3 Wi-Fi-only router. It’s the cheapest great 802.11 AC router you can find. It’s important to note that this router doesn’t have a Sim Card, so you can not use it to access mobile internet. So I use it for purely local home network purposes such as hooking up my laptop to the drive so I can access shared network folders or for streaming movies from the drive on the TV.
For internet purposes, I bought unlocked Huawei B310 4G LTE router at Ugx 300,000 from a guy who knows a guy. It’s incredibly hard to find unlocked stuff in Kampala. Smile Uganda sells this thing at Ugx 410,000 which comes locked to their network and a month’s bundle. I listed several options for 4G LTE routers on Dignited.
Sometimes I connect the Xiaomi Millet router to the Huawei 4G router to have internet on whichever Wi-Fi network the devices hook up to.
Audio: Sometime I can’t work without music. So music is a good productivity boost for me especially during those hot afternoons after having a heavy meal.
For sound, I have Sony SRS-X55 wireless bluetooth speaker. The performance and audio quality of this little baby is utterly surprising. Even more surprising is that it’s my wife who chose it. The Sony SRS-X55 outputs sound from anything that supports bluetooth including laptops and smartphones. It goes for $179.99 on the Sony website.
Bonus, I recommend the BORL power extension. It has about six standard power ports with LED switches and it’s pretty solid. It costs Ugx 60,000 at Game Luggogo.
My workspace is still evolving actually. There are some changes I intend to make to the setup this year. I might for instance add some drawers to create storage space for things like USB drives, cables, disks, books and chargers. It took me a long time to have everything, I didn’t wake up one morning and went shopping.