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Build An Awesome, Healthy Workspace for Under $500

You are going to spend over 10 years of your life at work. You might as well enjoy it.

best work environment

We spend a large portion of our days, and lives, at work. According to some estimates, the average person spends 13 years and 2 months at work. Regardless of the exact number, one thing is evident regardless of whether you work in an office, a co-work space, from home, or at coffee shops… many of us spend a large portion of our lives working. And so, having a workspace that allows us not only to work but to thrive, a space that fosters us creatively and, even more importantly, doesn’t actively damage our health, is paramount.

So recently, when I started working from home, I made it a priority to construct a healthy work environment, one that was good for my brain AND body and one that made me look forward to going to work.

This is the best budget-friendly healthy workspace I could come up with for $500.

Standing Desk

Since sitting has been called the new smoking, people have been looking for alternative ways to approach their desk. To help avoid spending my days sitting, I decided to get a desk that could be used for sitting and standing. I liked this option from Ikea the best.

I am a reformed Ikea convert. I have been baptized in the fire that is the Ikea showroom. Just a few short years ago, I would scurry from the showroom and cower in my corner. Now, I charge forth into the showroom with the gusto of Braveheart rushing into battle. Or, like a dude rapidly approaching 30 with an overactive imagination hoping to gain inspiration from some good ole fashion Swedish minimalism.

I like this one from Ikea. You can adjust it to various heights so I use it for both sitting and standing. They have an alternative to that model that has an electronic motor for raising and lowering the desk. Aside from that, there aren’t many other differences in quality or style so I didn’t splurge. Besides, I kinda like the crank on my model and it gets the heart rate up in the middle of a work day.

Desk Price: $249

[There are similar versions available at a lower price on Amazon – like this one – which has good reviews and is around $100 less than this Ikea option…but I haven’t tried it and can’t comment on its quality.]

Wall Storage

I have been working on implementing a modified version of the GTD system, a system of organization for your work and life. My life, to put it elegantly, was an absolute shitshow for a while. I had no systems or structures in place. I would lose things and leave things behind at friend’s places on the regular. Not that I still don’t do those thing, I just do them with far less regularity [but still kinda often].

Because of that, I like to keep my workspace as clean and minimal as possible. So while soome people might like to have files on their desk,I prefer to keep paperwork and other things off the desk.

Enter these nifty pegboards from the ever-trusty and equally as trendy Skadis line. I have two of these bad boys, one on the side and one behind my desk. I use various accessories to store files as well as cords, pens, and other various office supplies. I also lifted some inspo from YouTube and have one with three succulents.

Pegboard: $20×2=$40

Yoga Ball & Stabilizer

I use these in favor of a chair. This combination is more affordable than your average chair, allows you to engage your core and improve your posture, and is still fairly comfortable. There are also certain studies that suggest that sitting on a yoga ball may improve focus.

This is the yoga ball I use. It comes with the necessary gear for inflation as well as some suggested workouts, if that’s your thing.  This is the stabilizer I use. I went with it because it was one of the most affordable [under $15!], from a reputable brand in the space [Gaiam], and had mostly positive reviews. It came in a few parts and was ridiculously easy to assemble. At the time of publishing, I’ve been using it for a few months now and have no complaints.

Yoga Ball: $19.99

Stabilizer: $14.43

Balance Board

I get bored at work some times. My mind drifts. I get restless and distracted. Having some sort of toy present helps alleviate some of that. A balance board does that job perfectly. My girlfriend gifted me this one from Fluidstance – she’s a baker and spends a lot of time on her feet but isn’t as stationary as I am as a writer – but I’ve used this budget friendly option from ProFitness and it was also enjoyable.

ProFitness Balance Board: $27.95

Anti-Fatigue Mat

If you’re going to be standing for the whole day, you’re going to want your feet to be comfortable. To accomodate that, I decided to use an anti-fatigue mat. When I begin searching for options, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. There’s different thicknesses, different terrain, some are built for ergonomics, options on anxiety-inducing endless options. I ended up going with this one from the dependable Amazon Basics line, admitted, and at least partially,  to avoid exacerbating the overwhelm. While it seems like there might be some merit to spending more here, I couldn’t justify the added cost [or added time, stress, and anxiety]. This one has suited my needs just fine. I’ve used a handful of products from the Amazon Basics line now and have enjoyed all of them.

Mat Price: $29.99

Laptop Stand

I like to elevate my laptop off my desk to further reduce the strain on my neck from having a slight downward hiccup in it all day. I use two. I have this one, again from Amazon Basics,

which is a permanent fixture on my desk, and this one which I carry in my bag. I recommend having both, because I like to keep one in my bag so I don’t have to remember to bring the other with me, set it up, break it down, or deal with carrying something clunky. If you’re only going to get one, get the portable Nexus laptop stand because, while it is a few dollars more costly, it’s sturdy and lightweight and you can use it at home and on the go. It also comes with a handy box and carrying bag – both which I promptly lost – but if you’re more responsible than me, those are a nice value add.

Laptop Stand: $27.95

External Monitor

Research shows that having external monitors can increase productivity. I’ve found this to be the case in my study where n=1. I’m a writer and blogger and having an external screen allows me to have one screen dedicated to writing and another dedicated to researching. I’m also just a huge fan of the added real estate.

I have this option from HP, mainly because I wanted the option to have my monitor vertical which I’ve found helpful for reading, writing and editing. But if you’re not as unnecessarily bougie as I am, something like this Acer would be more than sufficient.  

External Monitor: $79.99

Grab yourself a candlescents like lemon, lavender, and peppermint may boost creativity – and you’ll be all set.

All of this comes out to a grand total of…

…..

$499.29!

A bit tight but still under budget.

I’ve been using this setup for a few months now and no complaints! The option to switch between sitting and standing is incredible and has been useful for suiting whatever mood I find myself in.

The only thing missing from this post that you might like to include at your desk is accessories. I’ve got two succulents floating around, a crystal my girlfriend gave me for creativity (if that’s your vibe), and almost always have a candle lit.

Whatever it is, whatever your preferences are, make sure your workspace is catered and tailored to YOU, and something that you enjoy spending time in. It’ll go a long way towards enhancing your experience and creating a space that enhances not only the quality of your work, but your life as well.

Share some of your workspaces down below. We’d love to see them.

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