Efficiency is key, especially if you're getting paid per deliverable (not salaried or per hour). How can you make working from home faster, more effective, and even more enjoyable? It's simple: Get the right gadgets.
Here are 20 must-haves for every telecommuter, virtual office worker, and entrepreneur.
1. Quirky Aros: It's a window air conditioner. It's smart. It's affordable. It tracks your schedule, considers your budget and location, and learns how to sustain the ideal temperature for you while conserving energy and your budget. Working from home doesn't need to equal blowing your AC budget through the roof.
2. Wally Home: Is your refrigerator leaking? This isn't the beginning of a joke, but rather a question Wally can answer for you. It can work in tandem with Nest if you like, and instantly alerts you if there's a leak in your home. Setup is quick, so you can get back to work.
3. NuBryte: This smart home lighting and safety console is everything you need to set the mood. It has a digital dimmer, built-in security camera, touchscreen, and manual control, if that's how you prefer to roll.
4. Kevo: Your home's key finally got an upgrade. It's touch-to-open tech on a different level, so you can keep your mobile device (and keys!) in your pocket when you come home. All it takes is one easy, secure motion to open the doors so you can set a new PR of how many grocery bags you carry from the car to the countertop.
5. Ring: Who's ringing the doorbell? You don't even have to be home to see, thanks to a wide-angle HD camera, smart motion detector, and auto cloud recording. Check to see if you want to answer--or figure out who's been playing ding dong ditch.
6. Canary: The new age of smart home security, you get an entire system in one small device. It's smart, learning your home's rhythms, and if something seems amiss, you'll have HD video sent directly to your mobile device. This means no surprises, nothing alarming, and easy home management.
7. Nest: Enjoy a suite of products like thermostats and smoke-CO alerts. Nest is the innovative way for your home to learn your preferences while keeping you safe. Great at saving energy, Nest pays for itself over time, which makes this one purchase you can't afford to resist.
8. Roomba: Home is for working, not cleaning. The classic Roomba has undergone a makeover, now more efficient and quiet than ever. There's also the Roomba for mopping, scrubbing, traditional vacuuming, and even outdoor use (plus, it's a cat and dog toy like no other).
9. Dyson Bladeless Fan: Dyson is synonymous with home gadgets, and you've probably had a Dyson fan or two in your life. But have you had a bladeless fan? Unlikely. It's just what it sounds like, it's a fan with no blades--which means it's quiet, incredibly efficient, and a sci-fi piece of art you have to have.
10. Poki: This portable battery pack/power bank is external and boasts compatibility with the iPhone, iPad, Samsung, and a slew of other smart gadgets. A Lepow product available on Amazon, it features a travel charger, portable charger, smartphone protection, and innovative battery pack tech that offers up to 1,000 charging cycles. It's also the fastest portable charger on the planet.
11. Virtue: Another Lepow product, this portable charger comes with 2.1A output and an adorable heart-shaped LED indicator for the battery. It's lightweight, charges fast, and works with the same gadgets as Poki. Get a minimum of three full charges for your phone out of this durable on-the-go option.
12. Amazon Echo: Created to respond to your voice, Echo is always at the ready. Simply ask for what you need, whether it's music, news, or the weather. As soon as you say the "wake word," Echo is available. It also features a gorgeous auto-tuned speaker so responses are always appealing (even if you're hearing about an impending hailstorm).
13. Philips Hue: What hue do you want your home to be? Hue reimagines lighting in the home, with an upgrade scheduled for 2015 (complete with the promise of a flawless transition). It's a blend of LED lighting and smart technology, all (literally) in the palm of your hand. With the app, you can customize your lighting for romance, work, or whatever strikes your fancy.
14. Ecobee 3: Here's the smart Wi-Fi thermostat, complete with a remote sensor, you've been waiting for. With these sensors, the ideal temperature is achieved in the most important rooms--not just one--which makes adapting, controlling, and customizing your whole home a breeze (warm or cool, depending on your preference, of course).
15. Neeo: This is the smart, "thinking remote" that will allow you to never leave your workstation if you don't want to. It has hand recognition, it's easy enough that a Luddite could set it up, and it allows you to control everything from lights to heating and your television.
16. Chamberlain MyQ Garage: When you have to leave the home office, you want to make sure the biggest entry point to your home is just as smart as the rest of your abode. MyQ is a universal smartphone controller for garage doors that features built-in Wi-Fi, allows for controlled lighting in and around the garage area, and can be added to virtually any existing garage door setup.
17. Fitbit: Just because you're hunkered over your desk doesn't mean you can't deskercise, practice lowering your heart rate with breathing, or count those steps to the fridge toward your daily goal. Fitbit is a moderately priced smart fitness watch ideal for home workers.
18. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: This app senses the best time to wake you up so your circadian rhythm is never disturbed. Simply place your phone under your pillow and enjoy the best sleep--and most productive days--you've ever imagined.
19. TreadDesk: When you work at home, you can "work" however you like, including on a treadmill desk. Working out while you work is the ultimate in multitasking and can help keep that spare tire at bay.
20. Tableau: Currently a Kickstarter, this gadget waters your plants while you're away (or, you know, forgetting them while you're in the home office). It's gorgeous and uses a wet-dry cycle with no electricity for watering, just like Mother Nature always intended.
How productive you are at home, or not, is largely up to you--and your gadgets. Make the right choices to optimize your work from home lifestyle and you'll have no trouble striking work-life balance. These 20 winners are just the tip of the iceberg. What have you discovered to make telecommuting even better?