Becoming More Productive: How I Created an Efficient Desk for Motherhood

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I care for Rigel full-time while also working from home on a freelance basis for a legal data analysis company. I’m grateful that this role has been available during this strange time in the world where childcare is so hard to find. While I know in the long-term, I’ll have to transition to a business role for career growth; being able to have so much flexibility has been incredibly helpful after an almost year-long “maternity leave.” In a previous post I discussed how I used my Fire Tablet to be productive. That tablet served me well for about six months before the demands of the documents I was analyzing outstripped its processor. I’ve since upgraded to an iPad Pro 11″ with the M1 chip, which can basically crush anything you throw at it. My standing workstations were working well but now that I’m working out with some intensity sitting down is kind of my idea of what a vacation would feel like. So, I’m sitting down when I work during Rigel’s naps, and I wanted to share the changes I’ve made to my desk to make it efficient for getting work done and for raising a rambunctious toddler (and kitten).

Previously, I had my monitor at an angle so that I could have two screens, the one from my laptop and my monitor (my current monitor the HP 24yh is sold out – I’ve link the 27″ monitor from HP that I’m thinking of upgrading to). I thought it would be helpful for things like comparing documents and watching some self-development videos while I worked on more mundane things. Well, my neck did not appreciate this set-up and I started to get neck pain from looking to my right. I made the decision to move my monitor to the middle and oh sweet relief my neck has never been happier!

My old set-up was really making my neck work over time.
My new monitor placement.

Once I made the decision to move my monitor that meant I would not longer be able to put my laptop on the same level of the standing desk, so I had to look for a laptop stand but since I jump between PC and Mac depending on the task, I was going to need a laptop stand that could accommodate two laptop. This will be the set-up I’ll use until I upgrade my Macbook Pro to a Mac Mini. I found this great Omoton laptop stand that could accommodate both my current laptops, including my new Lenovo Yoga C940 which I occasionally hook up to my monitor when I’m wanting to work on a bigger screen on things like the new novel I’ve started writing, blog drafts, and general research. I’ve been using my Macbook Pro (from Early 2011 that I’ve basically rebuilt but Apple doesn’t support anymore) for data work and for video editing (mostly our family movies since I can’t bring myself to start that Youtube channel).

My laptop stand can hold two laptops.

Of course, naps don’t ever go as long as I’d like so I have my Flexispot Standing Desk Converter that I lift up once Rigel wakes up from his nap when I’m working upstairs in the loft. The loft is not only my office but also the playroom and family library. Standing is the best way to work when Rigel is around because he wants to show me toys and things as I work all the time. It also prevents him from feeling tempted to sit on my lap. My feet sometimes protest all of the standing, but I know that generally, the standing was probably the only thing that kept me from gaining 30 more pounds during the height of my thyroid dysfunction. Needless to say, I’ve learned to love it.

Standing at my desk.

I also switched out my chair from a cute mid-century chair to something a little more practical and ergonomic. It’s not as aesthetically appealing but since we’ll be moving next summer and I’m unsure of what a future office set-up will look like I went with something affordable and comfortable. I also like this KOLLIE Armless Chair because it has a small footprint and can be tucked away when I’m standing at the desk fairly easily.

My new desk chair.

And to charge all my devices I got this E-Kong Power Hub that’s flat on the bottom so it can sit on my desk. Comes with three USB ports and two 3-prong outlets. I can plug in my Lenovo Yoga laptop (which I move around all the time) to the hub and can easily charge my phone while I work without looking for a charging brick. To go with that I also got a cell phone stand for my iPhone and with this stand, my desk has transformed from just a desk to a variable command center, where I can work, keep tabs on the husband, and take in some lessons.

Power hub to charge all the things.

And finally, I got a small portable desk lamp that can run on power for when I need to lift my desk or if I need to move it around to a different spot for early morning or late-night work sessions. The light is bright enough to illuminate my immediate workspace without intruding into Rigel’s room and disturbing his sleep. I’m looking forward to using this little light more as I continue to get further into creative writing. Optimistic me says I can write a novel in a year, realist me says it’ll be finished by the time Rigel leaves for college. I still think it’s a project worth taking on but then again, I’ve been feeling quite productive this summer. I wonder if this is a side-effect of dropping sugar.

Phone stand and desk lamp, all in chic black of course.

So, this is my current desk set-up. It’s working, even with a cat who likes to walk all over it which is one big reason I’ve kept it very minimalistic. Rigel can’t really mess with anything when it’s in the lifted position and he’s only rarely interested in the cables in the back of the laptops. So for now, in the absence of an office with a door and a nanny, it’ll do. Rigel can play, Lando can play, and I can be productive, provided I have my phone on Do Not Disturb.

Here’s to completing tasks,

Author: Grace G.

New Mom and Retired Lawyer trying to share the ride.

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