How to Find Keywords that are Cash-Generating for Your Niche

How to Find Keywords that are Cash-Generating for Your Niche

keyword researchNow that you have narrowed down your niche, it is time to begin drilling down to your keyword focus. Your goal now is learning how to find cash-generating keywords for your niche. But, first, so many words involved in online marketing!!!  So, before we look at research, let’s talk about what keywords are and their importance in online marketing.

First, a keyword is one or more words that succinctly describe the content on your page or post. In short, when someone goes to a search engine to search for a topic, the keyword is the word or words they enter to search. Ideally, when someone enters keywords relevant to your niche, your page appears in the list on the first page of search results. As you can probably guess, then, your keyword choices are supremely critical to your success in almost every online business model. Whether you’re pursuing affiliate marketing, blogging, Pinterest marketing, or any number of additional Internet marketing opportunities, your keywords largely determine your success.

Relevant keywords are critical to your success

How are keywords so critical? Well, keywords are important for several reasons. First, keywords drive traffic to your site. I remember a relevant quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson discussed in my Marketing 101 class in college. To paraphrase it, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” But, my professor was careful to point out the fallacy of this statement – because the world WILL NOT beat a path to your door if they don’t even know you built that better mousetrap.

How does this relate to keywords? Well, if you choose the wrong keywords to target, you probably will not get nearly as much traffic as you’d like, if any. To make money, you must choose keywords that will appear in search engines close to the top of the list of sites. If you think about it – what do you do when you conduct a search? Do you generally look at the first few entries or do you look at the 100th or 200th link that appears? Most people stick to the first 10 entries, while a few other people go to the second or third page of listings. So you need to find and use keywords that will positively affect your ranking (how high up you are on the listing) and link performance (how many people click on your link).

How do focused keywords drive traffic?

Another reason keywords are so vital is that you need targeted traffic coming to your site. For example, ten thousand visitors coming to your domain via the keyword “books” might be worthless if you are selling books about Harry Potter. However, if your focus is books about Harry Potter, then 500 visitors who come via the keyword phrase, “Harry Potter books,” will be interested in what you are marketing.

Likely, someone searching for “books” is just browsing. They may not even be interested in buying anything – they could be interested in selling books, book bans, book publishers, and number of other topics.

On the other hand, someone who is searching for “Harry Potter books” is more likely to be interested in buying something immediately. You see, it’s not enough to just get tons of traffic. You need a lot of focused traffic willing to take the action you want them to take. Whether selling eBooks, promoting affiliate products, getting leads for an offer, or just getting sign-ups to your list, you want targeted visitors. These niche visitors provide you with likely now or in the future.

Conducting research on your niche

All right. That was a rather lengthy, but important lesson on keywords. So, let’s explore how they relate to your niche. If you have chosen your niche that matches your passion and seems to have a huge profit potential, you need to research the keywords to use. If writing articles, you need to choose keywords to use in the titles and text. When building niche websites, you need to use keywords in the domain name. When using pay-per-click marketing, the keywords you choose will likely be one of the biggest factors determining whether your campaign is profitable.

Research your keywords for free using Google

Google provides a way to research keywords that is quite extensive. And free. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the method of using it is somewhat obscure and can be confusing. So, let me provide a little tutorial that will step you through how to use Google for conducting keyword research.

First, make sure you have a Google account, if you don’t already. You can sign up for free here.  This Google account will benefit you in a number of ways, so even though Google can be intrusive, it also provides many services for the online entrepreneur. Once you sign up you will have access to their keyword research tool.

This tool is not perfect. It gives you approximations of searches ranging from 1-100 up to 100K-1M. While this is quite broad, it will nevertheless give you ideas about keywords. Time to take out your journal and start taking down notes. Remember, you will be writing many posts and so you want lots of ideas about popular keywords to use. Google’s Keyword Planner is absolutely FREE to use, but you have to sort of jump through some hoops to get to it. Warning – some hoops look scary – like you might have to pay for an ad campaign first.

But, follow the directions as indicated below and you will get behind the scenes to conduct your research. Trust me, it is easy peasy once you know the steps.

How to navigate the tool to find keywords

First, click on this link to be taken to an opening page. Once you get on this page, be sure to review the content. It will give you an idea of what the Keyword Planner does. When ready, click on Go to Keyword Planner button on your page, as seen below.

Go to Keyword Planner

On the next page, click on NEW GOOGLE ADS ACCOUNT.

Google ads account

You will need to ignore most of the choices on the next screen and go to the bottom of the page. Click on Switch to Expert Mode.

Switch to expert view

On the next page, click on Create an account without a campaign.

Create an account without a campaign

Ok, here is where the kinda scary looking stuff comes in.  Don’t worry though. You won’t have to spend any money.  Just click on SUBMIT to go to the next step.

Google ad keyword planner

Ready to explore your account?

Whew!  You are almost there. Keep going.  On the next screen, you will even get a trophy. Click on EXPLORE YOUR ACCOUNT. 

Explore your account

I promise, you are almost there. Click on TOOLS & SETTINGS, then go over to the PLANNING tab and select Keyword Planner.  WHY do they make it so complicated?

going to keyword planner

All right one more screen to get through. I swear, Google has a lot of skill in developing cool tools to use. Why oh why are they making this so difficult.  Anyway, on the next screen, you can click on the little arrow on the bottom right of the screen to see what the planner is all about. Or you can just click on GET STARTED.

Get started on planning

Seriously, almost there!  Laughing yet about all the clicking?  Yes, take a deep breath and laugh. Now, you are really really ready to start.  First you’ll want to enter a base keyword for your niche. Let’s say you’re targeting the golf niche. You might enter “golf” into the keyword tool of your choice. Then the keyword tool will show you a number of related keywords.

Click to get started

Finally, you are at the keyword planner tool!

Start adding your words to begin exploring the significance of keywords in your niche.  I added the words baby clothes and boys. You can add as many keywords as you want. You can also go back and delete and add words. Take some time exploring the many keywords and their significance.

add keywords to planner

Once you do this, you will get a report about the average monthly searches. The information is rather general, but it can provide information about the significance of the number of searches. It will also give you ideas about other keywords you can focus on in your niche.

example report

OK- now you have the basics. Please take time to explore the many options on the Keyword Planner so that you can find the best cash-generating keywords.  Look for different keywords and drill down again and again. Take notes and jot down keyword ideas as you run across them. This will help you to write your articles with a focus on the most popular keywords. You particularly want to focus on words that have high popularity but low competition. This means many people are looking for this product, but competition on the niche is not high.

The Google Keyword Planner tool should be bookmarked because you will be referring to it frequently as you build your business.

Why finding keywords is so important to your niche?

All right. Lots of steps to access the Google Keyword Planner.  But remember, as discussed in previous articles, selecting your niche is critical. Why is that? Well, there are four important reasons to consider your niche carefully.

  • Reduced competition.  At the time, your niche may have less competition. It might after all, be rather new. Smaller businesses may not yet have your niche on their radar.  At the same time, large businesses may not consider it profitable. Thus, at the time you find the niche, you have optimal conditions for expanding. This would be high interest and low competition. This condition may not last – so jump on it as quickly as you can.
  • You become the expert. Because the niche is somewhat under the radar, then you can easily become the specialist. Thus, as the expert, you become the recommended source of information. Once established as an expert, you will likely remain significant in the niche.
  • Focused effort on your niche.  If you  have a narrower audience, then you can focus on catering better to the needs of that audience.
  • Gaining a toehold in market. Once you gain significant standing within the niche, your business can confidently expand into new and broader markets.

After deciding the niche you are going to focus on, you have a critical next step – finding keywords highly relevant to your niche. In addition to just finding keywords that are relevant, you also want to learn how to find cash-generating keywords for your niche.  These cash-generating keywords should be relevant AND high interest/low competition. Those keywords are critical to the amount of profit you will make in your online business.

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8 Best Ergonomic Document Holder Stands

8 Best Ergonomic Document Holder Stands

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Ergonomic document holder stands are essential tools for those who spend massive (or even a little) time working on the computer. If you want to avoid neck pain and back strain at the end of the day, consider using some type of document holder. Even though we work largely in a digital workplace, almost all work requires some paper and pencil work. Whether you research topics and take notes or scribble notes to remember on a piece of paper, you will often refer to some non-digital product.

Now, I am definitely old school. So, I take copious notes and jot down reminders frequently while I work. I refer to articles I have printed or look at diagrams that I have sketched out. And, if I don’t use a document holder to hold those notes while I use them for work, I very quickly feel a twinge in my neck that ends up in screeching pain hours later. Keep in mind – if you don’t use a document holder, you are looking down a lot. And looking down a lot quite simply ends in pain in your neck.

Luckily, an abundant variety of document holders in a huge variety of price points are available. Whether you want monitor mounted, desktop mounted or standalone document holder, you can easily find an option to meet your needs. This post will review a variety of document holders available at different price points.

Desktop mounted document holders

Desktop mounted document holders are just that – holders that mount to the edge of your desktop. These versatile document holders clamp onto the edge of your desk – on either side, the back or even the front. They have pivoting arms which allow you to position the holder where needed. Many of the desktop holders can also be used to hold your tablet if you use that for taking notes/researching instead of paper. Take a look at the options below from Amazon:

Gooseneck Tablet Holder, Lamicall Tablet Mount

This goose neck tablet holder is pretty cool, in my opinion. It will hold cell phones and tables such as the iPad mini, iPad Pro iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, Galaxy Tablet and Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The clamp can be mounted to your desktop. Or as some users do, to the headboard or even a chair. If you are a reader or movie viewer at night, this will save your neck! With a clip, this could be easily modified to hold documents, although it is made for phones and tablets. While it will hold the device steady, if you are going to be typing on it, you will have to brace it with one hand while you type. Click the image below to purchase.

TrenDesks Document Copy Holder and Tablet/Cellphone Holder 2-in-1

This versatile holder actually rotates 360 degrees, so no matter where you place the holder, it rotates to a position best for you. It moves to a variety of heights and angles thus allowing the material to be at eye level. The weight capacity is 2.2 pounds so it can easily handle an iPad, which runs around 1.3 pounds. Or a phone, which weighs even less. Because it can be rotated, the device can easily be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode.

The nice thing about this holder is that it easily converts to a document holder. It is mounted using a C clamp that is included in the product along with a one-year warranty. This multi-purpose document holder gets high ratings from users. Click the image below to purchase.

Aidata CH012A Metal Arm Copy Holder

The copy holder below also attaches to your workstation with a C-clamp. Metal arm has overall reach of approximately 20″. This document holder has a sturdy plastic based and adjustable clip that allows you to easily view documents of varying sizes. It also contains a removable and see through guide. That helps us folks with dyslexia or astigmatisms!  Click the image below to purchase.

Monitor mounted holders

Documents mounted on your monitor frees up space on your desk top. Because they are positioned on your monitor, documents are held at eye level if your monitor is positioned correctly. Generally fairly light, many of them are placed on the monitor with Command strips or rubber lined clamps.  Document holders can generally be mounted on either side of your monitor. Sometimes they can be top mounted and some are light enough to be used on your laptop.

3M Monitor Mount Document Copy Holder (DH455)

This monitor mounted document holder maintains the document in an upright position making it easy to read at eye level. It can be mounted on either a flat panel or on a traditional CRT monitor. The document holder uses 3M command adhesive strips to mount on your monitor. So, it can be moved or re-positioned leaving no sticky residue. The holder uses documents in either landscape or portrait orientation. Click the image below to purchase.

NoteTower Monitor Mount

A spring mounted clamp allows you to position this holder on a monitor or even a laptop. The clamp is lined with soft rubber so that it will mount securely AND protect the monitor surface. Being spring mounted, you don’t have to worry about adhesive removal if you want to move it around. To use it, simply slide paper into the flexible clips for direct viewing at eye level. This document holder mounts to laptops, tablets and thin desktop monitors either on the side or top. The folding support arms extend to hold paper in either landscape or portrait orientation. Click the image below to purchase.

Free Standing Holders

3M Desktop Document Holder with Adjustable Clip (DH340MB)

This tried but true document holder from Amazon sits upright on your desktop. Documents in landscape or portrait orientation are easily viewable at eye level. A grooved ledge at the bottom and spring action clip will hold up to 150 sheets of paper. A line guide slides up and down to mark your place on the document as you work. This document holder folds up for easy storage when not in use. Click the image below to purchase.

Page Up in Grey Crystal

Definitely another tried but true document holder that indeed has a teeny tiny footprint!!! While often given away at trade shows, you can purchase one from Amazon. It keeps paper upright while you type from them or view the materials. Position it about anywhere on your desk when you need it and tuck it into a drawer when you don’t need it. Although it only holds a few pieces of paper, it nevertheless does the trick when you need to position a document on your desk. Honestly, I am not sure how it works. But, the first time I used one, I stuck in paper and voila – it stood up. Since it is so small, it is a very handy office accessory. Comes in a variety of colors. Click the image below to purchase.

DIY Document Holder

If you want to try your hand at DIY, then Dollar Tree offers the tools to create your own document holder. Although not as compact as some of the fold away ones offered at Amazon, it nevertheless provides a fun project costing less than $5.00. Take a look at the tutorial if you want to take a break away from your monitor and do a little hands on.

I hope you have an opportunity to explore the different types of document holders to find the one that will best suit your needs. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to your long-term health in the office to ensure that you maintain proper posture in front of the computer. Looking down for hours leads to pain – plain and simple. Whether you use notes, transcribe documents, or use your tablet or phone for research, a document/tablet holder will ensure that you are looking ahead at work.

If you start to feel a twinge in your neck during the day, you will probably experience headaches and outright pain by the end of the day. Continuing to do this over the long-term can lead to spinal cord damage. Speaking from experience (unfortunately), it is much harder to correct damage than work ergonomically from the beginning. Document holders are a relatively inexpensive way to correct a potential problem in the office. Once you begin using them and notice how much better your neck and back feels, you will never do without again.

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Organizing your Home Office in One Day

Organizing your Home Office in One Day

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Have you ever gone into your office to work and could not concentrate? All you could see was the clutter and messiness surrounding you? That’s what happened to me yesterday. I sat there stewing because all I could think about was how hard it was to work with junk everywhere. (Yep – junk is what they used to call clutter). If this is you and organizing your home office in one day is your priority, then read on.  For sure, my call to action hit me that day. Clean up the mess or plan on getting nothing done!

My perfect home office space will be created in my spare bedroom. But, living in the middle of a major home remodel (putting up sheet rock, new flooring, building shelving, and more) prevented my dream office being built in just one day.  Thus, my goal that “call to action” day:  create a work space allowing me to be productive on a daily basis while working toward my entire home office completion.

This whole blog is about my journey to create the perfect, organized, energizing, productive dream office because I believe if you work at home – you NEED an office. But today’s post breaks down what I did on that one day to organize the home office by de-cluttering and arranging desk space and essential tools quickly and on a tight budget.  BTW – is there any kind of budget except a tight budget?

And, as a matter of fact, for me, the total cost that day amounted to only $1.08. I bought a little container for miscellaneous office supplies rather than spend the time  creating a DIY project. Since my plan was to get everything done in one day, I left the DIY office supply holder for later. So, read on for how I met my goal of organizing the home office in one day.

First, what is already in place in your office?

Before beginning to organize, I realized I needed to have a plan in place. I knew that I didn’t like the office area I had, but rather than starting to move furniture around willy nilly, I took some time to plan my day. This took a bit of time initially, but in the long run it allowed me to complete the work rather quickly once I started the actual work.

My first step in the plan was taking a hard look at where I was. Then, I had to look at where I wanted to be. Finally, I had to look at how I would get there in one day. I did this by studying the clutter that surrounded me, then asking and answering a series of questions. I will share my answers with you. Although you may have very different needs, my answers can help you brainstorm and possibly give you some ideas. Below are the questions and answers that I used for my one-day office makeover.

What really bothers me about my workspace?

This is probably the hardest question to answer because you really have to look at the space and assess what is wrong. Since you made the mess, it is harder to be objective about what is wrong with the clutter. If you plan to organize and de-clutter, then you have to be brutal about looking at your current workspace or you can’t make it better.

messy office before organizingTake a look at the hot mess on the right.  This is what I discovered I didn’t like:

  • The clutter. Duh. Seems obvious, but I had to name it to get rid of it. It was driving me batty.
  • Not having enough space to write/take notes as I am working on the computer. I take copious notes and jot down ideas on paper – so I needed a space to work on that was next to my computer.
  • Difficult access to tools: plugs for recharging, staplers, pens, pencils, highlighters, even headsets. To get writing tools, I had to get up and climb over the junk and reach behind a monitor. To get to the stapler, I had to dig under everything – where did I put that darn thing? I had to untangle cords to use the USB ports or headphones. Well, you get point.
  • Cord clutter. Yes, extra cords sitting around in sight totally distract me
  • Desk wobbles
  • Chair not comfortable for long periods.
  • Clutter in the room surrounding my workspace. Yes, clutter bothers me.
  • Basic looks: unattractive ceiling, walls need to be finished, floors need work. In essence, my future perfect home office is a huge work in progress.

What do I need to work effectively RIGHT NOW?

This is probably the next most critical question, because it will help you prioritize what needs to be done immediately and what can be done later. I really had to think about what I needed to get myself productive as quickly as I could. Below, I listed my priorities. Again, your needs may be different, but it is important for you to discover your particular needs in organizing your home office.

  • CRITICAL NEEDS: Makeover must be done quickly; must be free or cheap
  • A big writing space in addition to keyboard space. Since I am left-handed, it had to be open, flat and level with my desk so I could “spread out.” Yes, I am a spreader when I work. Some of you know what I mean!
  • Extra space to put notes that I will need later.
  • Easy way to switch from desktop to laptop without having to move things (or me) from one place to another.
  • A safe place to put my drink. I am a “liquids” person and I need either a mug of coffee or glass of ice-cold water to sip all day. I need a place that makes it easy for me to grab and sip and safe from ruining papers and equipment if I knock it over. (Yes, I have done both.)
  • A place to hang up work materials for easy access.
  • Easy access to USB cords for charging, but out of the way when not in use.
  • Easy access to “tools” of work – staplers, pens, flash drives, etc.
  • A place to work on DIY projects.
  • A more comfortable (ergonomic) chair
  • Motivating signs to keep me going.

What can I do in ONE DAY to make my office more effective?

The next question was critical because I did not have a lot of time to spend organizing and de-cluttering my workspace. Organizing is good and productive in the long run, but it didn’t get any work done that day. So, I couldn’t take multiple days to get this done.

With this in mind, I prioritized by looking at my first two needs – a fast and budget friendly organization and a workspace that allowed me to have room for taking notes beside my computer. Then, I compared what I had in place to what I needed. To do this, I roughly sketched out what was already in place – just a sketch and not to scale.

I highly recommend that you sketch out what you have in place so that you can objectively see how things can be moved to better suit being productive. See the sketch below:

before organizing home office sketch

Brainstorm solutions

Then, to be honest, I took a coffee break to just sit and think about how to rearrange the desks already in the office. I needed to re-position the desks to give me what I critically needed – a place to work on the computer AND to write, scribble notes, read documents, etc. The TV table at a different height from the desk just didn’t cut it. This step requires some soul-searching as well as you ask yourself – what can I change to make the space more usable for me? In addition, how can I take what I already have and reorganize it to fit what I need?

Then, sketch out a new arrangement that meets your top priorities. If you can’t figure out how to rearrange just by sketching, then consider making paper cut-outs to rearrange your room in several configurations to see which is best for your needs and priorities. This is my revised room arrangement to meet my needs.

sketch after organizing workspace

Other critical needs for organizing the home office TODAY

For this question, I looked back at my list to see what else really needed to be addressed quickly. From that priority list, I concluded that I could do all except the last three in one day. A place to work on DIY projects, a more ergonomic chair and motivating signs would have to wait for another day. So, now that I had my goals in mind, what did I need to do to accomplish them quickly and with little or no cost? Onto my next big question.

Next steps for organizing your home office ONE-DAY makeover

Basically, I had to plan how to accomplish all the tasks in one day. So, I went back to making a planning list. This is what I came up with:

  • Turn off and unplug all the technology. It is MUCH easier to rearrange technology if not also fighting the cords when moving monitors, laptops, printers, laptops and other technology.
  • Get rid of the clutter. For now – just put all the junk out of the way so you can see the blank desktops reducing distraction and frustration when moving stuff around.
  • Pull out the tables, desks, etc. and clean behind them. This might be the last time you can easily clean the dust bunnies out of the way.
  • Move the desks and technology around to the new arrangement to see if it works.
  • Once you move the technology, plug all back in and turn it on, sit down to see how it all works for the critical priorities.

In my case, I needed a rather large (writing) workspace after putting the keyboard and laptop on the desktop. I also placed to monitor to ensure correct ergonomic comfort.  With desks only containing the technology, I looked at my next critical steps to organizing my home office.

After rearranging furniture, what else can be done TODAY?

Next, I went back to the list of priorities to see what else I needed to complete in organizing my home office.  First, I ensured accessibility to all the work tools when I needed them. I found space for coffee/water, made pens/pencils front and center, worked on access to USB chargers, nailed in a hanger for my headset, and cleared all desk space of messy (unused) cords.

With nothing on my desk except the technology and the few critical things I needed, I took these steps to minimize clutter:

  • To easily access USB charging devices, I connected a 10-port USB hub that my brother gifted me. This hub connected to my desktop allowing me to connect my headset, flash/portable drives, and my printer directly from my desk.  This small appliance kept me from having to stand up to plug devices into the back of my tower. It also minimized cords on the desk top to diminish tangling.

Though not yet my dream office, the area nevertheless was more user friendly. I forged ahead to see what else I could do.

organized office in one day

Next in the goal of organizing my office in one day, I further

  • unplugged and hung the headset up on the hanger when not in use.
  • hung up the empty phone charger and hotspot cords so they were out of the way when not in use, thus diminishing desktop clutter.
  • put a coaster on the desktop for my coffee/water.
  • placed a mug on the desk with a few favorite pens, pencils and highlighters to easily grab (and put up afterward).
  • added the letter box to store materials not necessary for the current post.
  • put a box on the desk top to hold detritus – erasers, the stapler, tape, etc. that I needed but didn’t use all the time. This was my expense for this project. Three little plastic boxes cost $1.08. I will decorate it later.
  • left everything else off the desktop so that I could work free of distractions.

What still needs to be done in organizing your home office?

My final step was to document what I still needed to do. This will serve as a framework to address tasks when I get some free time. Not really sure what free time is, but I have hopes of one day learning about it. After completing this in one day, I had an effective workspace that I enjoyed working in. A clutter free workspace enhanced my productivity. Throughout the next days, I maintained a neat and organized space with my home office arranged specifically for MY needs. I also developed a list of important tasks next in the long-term goal of creating my perfect office.

This planner that I used made the day go quickly and ensured that I had a home office space that was effective for my needs. Please click here if you would like a free copy of my template for the One-Day Office Organization Planner that I created.

Final thoughts about time and budget

If your home office space is not in place, I encourage you to establish your space today. Nothing helps you be more productive than a place to work, as discussed in this post. If you don’t already have an office in place, then look at it as both an urgent and an ongoing project. What do I mean by that? As you can see from the photos, I already had three “desks” made out of pallets and a table for my printer.

Note, those are not the desks I will use in the final iteration – not the desks that I will have in my final dream office. But, I made all four in one day for almost no cost.  Take a look to see how I made the pallet desk/tables: I almost literally took scrap wood and pallets and screwed them together at the height I needed for working for the three desks. You can check out how I did this on this post. For the printer table, I screwed a sheet of plywood over an old coffee table.

You too can create your interim organized office in one day using what you have on hand. You can use old tables, put an old door on sawhorses, or stack a shelf on blocks. The point is to get an inexpensive and fast office up while you are working on your dream office. Use the template today and get to work so that you can have an organized, effective and productive home office tomorrow.

I challenge you to organize your office for productivity in one day.  To assist you, click the image below for the FREE One Day Planner that I created to help me with the project.

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10 Home Office Desk Ideas

10 Home Office Desk Ideas

Minimalist home office deskOne of the most important components of an efficient and productive office is the desk. Often, you are looking for small home office desks that will fit in the space you have to work, whether your office is incorporated into your house decor or set up in a separate room. While the types of desks available today are unlimited, I am going to provide an overview of 10 home office desk ideas that encompass the main types of desks available. From exploring the different types of desks, you will have a clear idea of which type of desk will fit your individual needs. I will break the desk types into five general categories because these identify the underlying benefits of desks at home. These categories include minimalist desks, desks that “hide the office,” storage desks, large footprint desks and ergonomic desks.

Minimalist desks

These desks are particular useful for small home office desks. They can be easily incorporated into the living space because they are small and inconspicuous. If you are working in a nook or cranny in your home, these will fit well.

Floating desk – These wall mounted desks optimize small spaces. They can go into small home offices located in unused corners or even fold up when not being used. There are many ways the floating desk can be mounted to minimize space but maximize work surfaces.

Corner desk – A corner desk is designed to fit into a corner. They can actually be small to fit into an otherwise unused corner. However, they can also be quite large and have multiple drawers and other accessories that spread down the corner walls of a home office. A primary benefit of this type of desk is the ability to utilize otherwise unused spaces.

Home office desks that “hide the office”

These desks allow your work to be hidden very quickly. While some take up more space than a minimalist desk, when closed, they blend in as a piece of furniture in your home decor.

Small desks that hide the office

Secretary (or drop leaf) desk – Secretary desks are small desks with a hinged, flip-down workspace. Often secretary desks have storage at the bottom but others just have an open space at the bottom. Benefits of the secretary desk include the smaller footprint and the ability to close the flip-down workspace to hide “the mess” when guests knock on your door.

Roll-top desk – A rolltop desk is similar to the secretary desk in that the workspace can be closed off. This desk has a sliding roll top constructed of narrow wooden slats fitted along slides or grooves that roll up to work or roll down to hide the workspace. These desks are usually quite large and heavy, containing a combination of stacked compartments, shelves, drawers and various nooks that provide easily accessible storage for the user. Roll top desks are generally quite ornate and most also have drawers along the side for more storage.

Large desks that hide the office

Armoire desk – An armoire desk contains a work space built within a large cabinet that is generally 5-7 feet high. The work surface usually slides out with a slide-out keyboard/mouse shelf. Often, the armoire desk also contains file drawers for storage under the workspace. While the armoire desk has a large footprint, it is beneficial in the home office because it has two to four full-height doors that can be closed to hide the detritus of the office.

Computer desk – Computer desks provide space for the computer tower and monitor or multiple monitors and a laptop. This type of desk is to provide a workspace for your computer as well as a way to hide the computer, the cords and cabling that are part of the home office. Designed to conceal the technology you use, they are often desirable for the home office space. The computer desk is typically simple and efficient, yet larger than the writing desk. While the secretary desk, rolltop desk and armoire desks conveniently hide the artifacts of your office work, the computer desk hides or camouflages the technology used in the home office.

Storage in your home office desk

Storage desks are useful in the small home office because they provide additional storage space for the materials you need to get your job done.

Credenza desk – These desks have a side credenza – or an additional piece of furniture or a sideboard that provides extra storage and extra workspace. Place credenzas alongside the desk to form a little cubby in the room or along the wall. Commonly, credenza desks take a larger footprint in the room, although the additional storage and workspace make them desirable for the home office.

Pedestal desk – A pedestal desk uses two pedestals to support a work surface. DIY pedestal desks typically place a surface on top of a two-drawer file cabinet on the left and right. These desks are good for those who want stored items to be quickly accessible while working.

Large footprint desks

If you are lucky enough to have a separate room as your home office, this may be the desk for you. It is quite impressive looking but typically takes up more space than other types of desks.

Executive desks – The executive desk is the big kahuna of home offices with plenty of drawer space and surface area. Generally executive desks take a much larger footprint than other desks. Often, they are thought of as a desk for the “professional” office. Typically executive desks are seen in banks and lawyers offices and would generally need a separate room for a home office rather than a nook or corner in another room.

Ergonomic Desks

Ergonomic desks allow us a less passive working environment. For the home office worker, it is important to be active even while hard at work. Does that make sense?

Standing desk – These desks have become more popular lately.  Standing desks help with the negative health effects of a sedentary work environment.  With a standing  desk, you stand up while working on your computer or writing. This somewhat ameliorates the detrimental effects of sitting all day. Although the research is still not definitive as to whether standing while working is beneficial to your health, more and more people are choosing to stand while working.  A variety of products are available that will easily convert your desk into a standing desk either permanently or temporarily.

Suggestions for choosing your home office desk

With so many choices in types of desks available, asking the following questions can help you select the ideal desk for your work at home office?

  • How much space do I have for a desk? Do I have an entire room or just a corner of a room in which to work?
  • Will I need to “hide” components of my office at times? A separate room or curtains around your office workspace handily hides the clutter. But, if a guest (mother-in-law) knocks on my door, can I hide the clutter quickly? Can I close the door or do I need to close my desk up to hide clutter?
  • Do I have papers, books,  or materials that I need to quickly and easily access? If yes, then I might prefer a desk with storage drawers built in for easy access.
  • Aesthetically, what design do I like? Do I prefer minimalist design or ornate furniture that makes a statement? Or somewhere in between?
  • How much money do I have? All types of desks can now be purchased at a variety of price points.
  • Will technology need to be readily available on the desk? Do I need a laptop and tower, monitors, tablet, mouse, keyboard, phone, camera or video equipment easily accessible?
  • Is time an element? For example, do I want to purchase a desk already assembled to get up and running fast? Or, do I prefer one in a box assembled at home or even one built from scratch?

Final thoughts on your perfect home office desk

A desk can be one of the most important components of your home office. For much of your work day at home, you will likely be working at a desk. When beginning in your home office,  you can use a table. But, I encourage you to find a desk that fits your work style, your technology needs and your health as quickly as you can. While the choice of desk might seem easy, studying your individual needs will help you to make the right choice in your first desk. A desk perfectly suited to you and your needs ensures a more productive (profitable) day.  Use the list of questions above to give you a better idea of the type of desk uniquely suited to you.

 

Avoiding Neck Pain: Computer Monitor Ergonomics

Avoiding Neck Pain: Computer Monitor Ergonomics

Home office monitor placementOuch!!! Does your neck hurt by noon every day?  Avoiding neck pain can be important to home office workers who need to be productive all day. Neck pain can be avoided simply by following a few rules of ergonomics for the home office monitor.

If you have worked in an office, you have probably experienced pain in the neck caused by sitting all day staring at your monitor. When you are young, the pain can simply be tiring and uncomfortable, but by the time you reach my age, “monitor neck” can be almost debilitating.

Due to an automobile accident in my teen years, I have off and on experienced moderate to extreme neck pain. Recently the pain was so intense that I was afraid I would not be able to continue working at the computer. Avoiding neck pain at all costs became my mission. If I did not figure out how to correctly position my chair in relation to my monitor to drastically reduce neck pain, I would be unable to work.

Thus began my quest for the ergonomics of monitor placement for avoiding neck pain. Upon looking through research, I found that depending on the country, the year and the organization conducting the research on ergonomic design, the best placement for monitors varied widely. There simply is no global consensus regarding monitor placement for the best ergonomics. But with further searching, I found some tips that will help you in determining how to place your monitor at your home office to help protect your back and avoid damage to your neck even if you spend long hours at your desk.

Best monitor placement for avoiding neck pain

To protect your back and avoid neck pain, place the screen so that your eyes and head are level as they look at the monitor. You can adjust several ways: adjust the height of the monitor, the height of your chair or the distance of the monitor relative to your position. You may have to experiment before getting the position that allows your head to remain level when working. Generally, your neck will “know” when you get the right position because you will feel no strain or pull looking at the monitor for an extended time.

It is recommended that you position the monitor about arm’s length away or approximately 20 inches. If your monitor is larger, then place it further away. The “sweet spot” you are looking for is the distance away that allows you to have your head level to see the screen clearly – looking neither up or down as you work.

Positioning large monitors for avoiding neck pain

I had a difficult time finding a position that allowed my head to remain level as I worked and discovered that I had the monitor too close.

For my large monitor, I had to set it back about 26 inches. If you have to move the screen too far away to see clearly, you may have to adjust the zoom for larger content. For me, it was simply a mental thing – I wasn’t used to the monitor being so far away and had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t have to have my nose almost on the screen to see it clearly. After enjoying the lack of pain, I have found it easier to get used to the distance.

It may take some time to find the right adjustment of monitor height, monitor distance and chair height, but you, too, will be rewarded with less pain at the end of the day when it is positioned correctly.  Making this simple change will make a huge difference in  ergonomic home office monitor health.

Image quality to improve screen usage

When you are viewing the monitor, make sure it is: sharp and crisp, not fuzzy, stable (without being jittery or flickering) and bright enough to see without straining your eyes. Usually modern monitors are preset to ensure best viewing quality, but if your monitor does not have these characteristics, go into settings and modify to your comfort level. You also want to ensure that the images (both text and graphics) are large enough to see without squinting or straining your eyes.

Minimizing blue light on the home office monitor

Lately, there is a growing concern about prolonged exposure to blue light, part of the visible light spectrum that radiates from monitors and other displays (cell phones, tablets, some TVs, etc.). Blue light reaches deeper into your eye than natural light and research suggests that the cumulative effect of blue light exposure can damage your retina and is connected to age-related macular degeneration.

In addition, blue light wakes up your brain, so if you do not have blue light filters set up on your devices, you may find that when YOU are ready to go to sleep, your brain is not. You may have noticed that most cell phones now have a blue light filter that comes on at night and now Windows 10 has a blue light filter that can be turned on in Settings. Turning this on your monitor will help with eye strain and also help your brain to begin to shut down even if you work at night in your home office.

The graphic below shows you where to look to turn on your blue light filter if you have Windows 10. If you have an earlier version of Windows or a Mac, you can get a free blue light filter online. Three blue light filters are available for free: Iris mini, f.lux and Redshift.

Avoiding neck pain by reducing screen glare

In addition to adjusting your monitor and chair for the proper height, and installing a blue light filter, check for glare on your screen. While it may seem counter intuitive, screen glare can cause neck pain if you adjust your head position to avoid glare on the screen. Screen glare can be diminished in a variety of ways.

  • LIGHTING: Use indirect lighting as discussed in an earlier blog post. Direct light to bounce off a wall or ceiling to reduce glare on your monitor. You can also dim lights in the room or remove one of the fluorescent bulbs from the ceiling. Natural light is the best light for office productivity. However, make sure that you place your monitor away from any direct sunlight streaming into the window.
  • USE A MONITOR HOOD: Using a hood or screen around the monitor also reduces glare. Monitor hoods are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive. For a great DIY that your neck will appreciate, monitor hoods can also be made easily and inexpensively.
  • ADJUST SCREEN SETTINGS ON YOUR MONITOR: Monitor buttons are generally on the bottom or side of the monitor. These buttons will allow you to adjust the brightness of the monitor. Reducing the brightness will also reduce the glare.
  • USE A FILTER: To reduce glare, you can cover your monitor with an anti-glare coating or filter. Now, screens are available that are both anti-glare and anti blue-ray. While relatively more expensive than DIY monitor hoods, your eyes and neck will thank you for installing them. If glare is a strong problem for you, this might be your best option.
  • WEAR ANTI-GLARE GLASSES: Glasses are now available with anti-glare, anti-blue light coatings. These glasses are helpful for looking at the monitor. They will also reduce glare in bright sunlight and at night when driving. Glasses with anti-glare coating help to reduce eye strain and look more attractive. Talk to your eye care professional about anti-glare or anti-reflective coating for your glasses. Also, discuss the correct adjustment for your bifocal or progressive lenses in viewing the monitor without eye or neck strain.

Computer monitor document holders

Using a document holder helps you to position the paper so you can comfortably see it without straining your neck. Many options are available for document holders. Some holders attach to the side of your monitor, others attach to your desk, and other options are free-standing. Document holders come in a wide variety of price points. While this may not seem an important element for an ergonomic home office monitor, it can really help diminish your neck pain.

Use a stand-up desk to avoid neck pain

According to research, sitting all day is dangerous for your health. Mayo Clinic analyzed 13 studies about sitting more than eight hours a day without physical activity. The bad news? Those who sat more than eight hours had the same risk of dying as those with diabetes or smoking. The good news? Those negative effects of sitting for long hours can be diminished simply by being active. For example, standing while you are working at your computer will largely counter the negative impact of sitting. There are many different monitor stands that convert regular desks into stand up desks. These are available to allow you to adjust your monitor for sitting and standing.

Posture when at the home office desk

If you take a look at the posture of the computer user on the left, you will notice a spinal curve as he works. This is caused from placing his laptop too low on the desk. This works for short periods of time. However,  for prolonged periods of time, this position will cause pain in your neck.

Reducing neck pain will overall improve your productivity in the home office. In a nutshell, more productivity equals a better bottom line for you. But, even more importantly, reducing or even eliminating neck pain will have long term positive consequences for your health. At first, concentrate on your posture – back straight and neck level. After a while, this posture becomes normal for you.

The primary focus of this article is adjusting the monitor to help alleviate neck pain. Other factors can contribute to neck pain such as your choice of chairs, your posture and even stress while working. Later posts will focus on these topics in your home office. But, beginning with monitor positions and adjustments, you will find relief from your strained neck almost immediately. In this case, you will be able to feel when you have made the correct adjustments. Your your neck will tell you. Believe me – taking the time to make these adjustments will be well worth it.

Final thoughts on avoiding neck pain

If you work at home, then you probably spend an enormous amount of time staring at a computer monitor. It is just how we work these days.  Avoiding neck pain is probably very important to you, like it is to me. Proper posture and monitor placement may seem minor at first. However, the more years that you hunch over a computer, the more your spine will be negatively impacted. Making changes to your office to ensure you work ergonomically all day will benefit you for many years to come. After all, you are working hard at home so you can enjoy life.  Making monitor adjustments today will ensure you will enjoy life from now on.

SOURCES

  1. Woo, E. H. C., White, P., & Lai, C. W. K. (2016). Ergonomics standards and guidelines for computer workstation design and the impact on users’ health–a review. Ergonomics59(3), 464-475.

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