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MSA Team Picks – Our Work From Home Essentials

Megan K.
ByMegan K.Sep 2, 2020 | 10 comments

The MSA team has been WFH since the end of March, and while some of the team already had pretty awesome setups at home, others have been working from the couch or their dining room tables. Sure, you can probably get work done at most any desk or chair (or couch, beanbag, futon, the list goes on) but there are some things that enhance any new/alternative workspace and just make it more comfortable and enjoyable to be in. With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the items that are making our current WFH lives feel more productive, happy, and cozy. 

The MSA Team's WFH Essentials:

Marne's picks:

Marne wearing Look Blue Light Glasses

The Item: Look Blue-Light Abbey Glasses in Grey

The Cost: $78.00

Why I Love It: Right now I am not only working from home, but I'm also doing four hours of evening Esthetics classes, four nights a week. That's at least 12 hours of screentime a day, not to mention my "leisure" time where I may be watching television or staring at my phone. Ugh. These blue-light blocking glasses are incredibly lightweight so that they don't feel heavy at all on my face. The arms also bend both ways to prevent any stress that over time could break them while taking off or general wear. The lenses come in low-level prescriptions as well, but I chose to get the neutral 0 since I don't need readers quite yet. After a couple of weeks of wearing these, my eyes honestly feel less stressed and I've noticed that they feel a lot less dry (I wear daily contacts too). I think I need to get better at wearing these during my bed/phone screen time to see an impact on my sleep (or just stop late-night phone use altogether). 

Giorgio Armani Beauty Rouge D’ Armani matte lipstick with lid off

Image via our review.

The Item: Giorgio Armani Beauty Rouge D’ Armani Matte in 400

The Cost: $38.00 for full-size

Why I Love It: Please don't roll your eyes. I know this lipstick is expensive and I honestly only have the mini that I got with my Sephora Favorites Luxe Kit BUT I've recently discovered that red lipstick gives me a real boost of endorphins when I'm feeling blah. Let me be clear- I'm not WFH in full makeup every day and I'm not one of those people telling you to be productive/creative/etc. It's ok to be in sweats, not shower, have crying fits, and eat crap food IF THAT'S WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE DOIN' (I am projecting). I'm all over the place and my emotions are a dang rollercoaster these days. But once a week (maybe) I try to force myself to do a full face of makeup or JUST lipstick and mascara. Seeing that bright pop of color on our daily Zoom calls for work really makes me happy for a bit and it usually gets a compliment too, which makes me feel nice. Any red lip will do, but this one feels extra fancy when I need a little kick.


Megan's Picks:

The Item: Universal Standard Foundation Turtleneck in Heather Grey

The Cost: $60.00

Why I Love It: This is the ideal WFH shirt (that isn't an old sweatshirt). Soft enough to sleep in but polished enough to make you look at least mostly competent over a Zoom meeting (I cherish versatility AND items I can wear straight out of bed for my daily calls!), this soft top works beautifully alone or under a favorite tank, sweater, or slip dress. It is also light enough to wear all spring but layer in the winter! It has only gotten softer the more I wash it and I am 100% sure I need one in every color offered. Pro tip: The US Foundation line is more fitted but super stretchy. Size up if you prefer a more relaxed fit!

Image via amazon.com.

The Item: Pantenger Genmaicha Tea

The Cost: $18.90

Why I Love It: My routine used to be wandering to the MSA fridge every morning for some bubbly water, but now I have a cup of this tea every day. Sometimes two! Occasionally three. I have long loved Genmaicha tea because it combines green tea with toasted rice pieces which make it feel so earthy and comforting. It also gives a very gentle caffeine kick that doesn't have me crashing by noon. This brand is one of my favorites and the tea bags arrive in a gorgeous tin that is perfect for stashing jewelry, pens, art supplies, whatever, after you drink your tea.


Savannah's Picks:

Image via target.com.

The Item: Celestial Seasonings Chamomile Tea, 20 ct

The Cost: $2.59

Why I Love It: The friend I'm sheltering with got me on the tea wagon; normally I'd save it for sore throats or chilly days when I'd rather not crawl out of my skin after coffee, but the ritual of getting up, turning on the kettle, and sipping this herbal beauty has proven peaceful. I'll take all the peace I can get.

Image via aerie.com.

The Item: Aerie Play Real Me High-Waisted 7/8 Leggings

The Cost: $39.95 (on sale for $23.97 in remaining sizes)

Why I Love It: If you know me even a little bit, you know my penchant for black clothing. I bought these muted purple leggings on a whim with a matching bra top and the combo has become my snazziest WFH get-up. The high-waisted cut was a must for me and the option of lengths made my non-existent torso and very long legs really happy. I feel comfortable, supported, and best of all, put together thanks to the slight sheen. They look just as good with an oversized sweater as they do with a leather jacket, and once they're out of the wash, they're one of the first things I wear again.


Sara's Picks:

Image via simplehabit.com.

The Item: Simple Habit

The Cost: Free basic membership. Premium membership costs $11.99/month, $95.99/year, or $299 for lifetime access.

Why I Love It: I purchased the yearly membership a few months ago and have found it so helpful when I need to take a short pause. They have a variety of mediations, soundscapes, and even (bedtime) stories to listen to!

Image via amazon.com.

The Item: LapGear Home Office Lap Desk

The Cost: $39.99 (at time of purchase)

Why I Love It: Sometimes I just feel like sitting on the couch while working! This desk is comfortable sitting on my lap and keeps my laptop stable. There are even a mousepad and phone holder compartment, which also come in handy.


Emily's Pick:

Image via fromourplace.com.

The Item: Our Place Always Pan

The Cost: $145

Why I Love It: Like many of us, I've been cooking lunches at home between Zoom calls and dinners at home A LOT these days. I got tired of struggling with our no-longer-so-non-stick Teflon pans very quickly and wanted to try one of the shiny new ceramic pans popping up in my Instagram feed. I got the Always Pan in Spice to cheer up my kitchen and it is a breeze to cook with and clean up. Every second I don't spend scraping food out of a pan is a minute gained. It handles both my solo lunches and dinners for two really well. I'm working on an in-depth review to share my full take on the Always Pan, so stay tuned!


Andy's Pick: 

The Item: South of Monterrey Candle by Village Candle Co

The Cost: $56

Why I Love It: I never thought I'd be a candle person, but since I started working at MSA and was exposed to all different sorts of candles and scented products, I guess I've become one. This candle smells SO GOOD. Eucalyptus, but not like the chemical scent of eucalyptus essential oil - like fresh eucalyptus. The freshest of fresh basil smell mixed with a hint of fennel. A little bit of lavender (which I'm told is overpowering if you dislike lavender). All of these come together in such a bright, clean, invigorating scent that somehow also puts me at ease. While I'm working from the studio (solo!) I burn this once a week or so when I really need it and it's an instant mood booster for me.


Lacey's Pick:

Image via apple.com.

The Item: Beats Wireless Headphones

The Cost: $199.95

Why I Love It: My Beats headphones are about 4 years old, so they're an older model compared to the one I'm linking to. I won't pretend to be a huge headphones expert, but these were my first pair of truly wireless headphones and they are a real game-changer for working at a desk all day. The connectivity is good, so I can also take breaks and walk around the house a bit without my Bluetooth dropping off -- and when I do need to charge them up, the included cable is long enough that I can do so without feeling restricted. If you want something smaller, I also highly recommend these Jabra in-ear headphones. I scooped them up for a deal on Black Friday, and they are my go-to for listening to music at the gym. Now that I'm doing yoga at home, I must say these make a huge difference for following along with YouTube instructors, and if I close my eyes I can totally pretend that I'm in a studio getting private instruction instead of trying to follow along with a video on my phone.


Christen's Picks:

Image via yeti.com.

The Item: Yeti Rambler Mug

The Cost: $24.99

Why I Love It: I'm used to doing the coffee shop shuffle as my ever-changing "office," which means I'm used to nursing amazing coffee throughout the day from my travel mug. It works out great because I truly am a slow coffee drinker and this way it doesn't get cold immediately. Now that I'm working at home I use my travel mug to help set the vibe, and I like that this one has a handle and some weight to it. I fill it with high-quality coffee either from my Trade subscription or that I've picked up from my few favorite local spots!

Image via juniperridge.com.

The Item: Juniper Ridge Cedar Incense

The Cost: $12.00

Why I Love It: Simply put, for pretending you're outside when you're stuck inside. I also strongly suggest bathing yourself in pine needle scent before sitting down to work, for the same reason, using their body wash (here).


Sarah's Picks:

Image via truebotanical.com.

The Item: True Botanicals Resurfacing Moisture Mask

The Cost: $65

Why I Love It: My typical skincare routine - if I can really call it that - includes a drugstore cleanser and moisturizer. Every once in a while I try out a new product but I mostly stick to those two products. I recently realized my minimal skincare routine was slipping because I rarely wear makeup when I work from home. Of course, you should wash your face whether or not you wear makeup but it's so easy to forget when your normal life routine has shifted. I decided to splurge on a new product and settled on the Resurfacing Moisture Mask from True Botanicals. This pretty orange mask has a very fresh scent with the slightest hint of citrus and floral notes. I leave this on for a few minutes and then my skin feels refreshed and slightly smoother. I use this a couple times a week, specifically as a pick-me-up when I’m having a sluggish day. It’s been really nice to have a simple and quick moment of self-care during the work day.

Image via stitcherpremium.com.

The Item: Stitcher Premium 

The Cost: $4.99 per month

Why I Love It: I've always been a casual podcast listener but now that I work from home all the time, I find myself very dedicated to a few shows. While I enjoy all kinds of podcasts, comedy podcasts have really been improving my work from home situation. I decided to switch to Stitcher Premium because they have the full backlog of podcasts, ad-free streaming, and comedy albums. Listening to the backlog of shows I love has been a great way to brighten my day. I spent the first couple weeks of my subscription listening to my favorite episodes of How Did This Get Made? and Comedy Bang Bang. Now I'm starting to venture out into the world of new (to me) podcasts and there's a wide variety to keep me busy for quite a while!


Are you working from home right now? What are your favorite essentials to stay productive and comfortable?

Megan K.
Megan K.
I love natural/vegan beauty products, Korean skincare, unique jewelry, and weird candies from far away places. When I am not waiting for my next exciting box you can find me painting or taking photographs of interesting people. I never leave home without pug hair somewhere on my shirt and a bold lipstick on my smile.

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I think I have that exact same Chamomile tea, and I’ve been a bit hesitant to drink it during the day because I was afraid it’d make me too relaxed or sleepy, lol. I think I’ll finally give it a go on a day when I don’t need to be on my A game for work. 🙂

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Somebody once at a conference told me that chamomile brewed for a longer time has a stimulant effect. Now, I haven’t checked the accuracy of the info, but just putting it out there 🙂

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Some tips from someone who has worked from home for 9 years (traveling for my job, WFH 50%, travel 50%):
– Wireless headphones so you can walk around during long calls (I prefer Bose wireless earbuds and just got Apple AirPod Pros)
– Get up and move around. Don’t sit at your desk for 8 hours straight! If that means just getting up and moving your laptop from your desk to the kitchen table or kitchen table to kitchen counter and doing a standing desk for a few hours, do it. I usually bounce between a lap desk on the couch, my regular desk with monitors (for when I need multiple screens), and sitting outside with my laptop on a table in the shade. If you’re used to working in an office where you are moving every hour or so to a conf room, to stop by a coworkers desk to ask a question, to get a cup of coffee, whatever, roaming around your house can help mimic that and keep you from going stir crazy in one seat all day.
– Stop for meals like you would at work. Set a timer or put it on your calendar if you have to.
– Schedule time for a walk, a yoga video, stretching, a workout video, whatever you’ve got. It can be in the morning, lunchtime, late afternoon, whatever works but getting some physical activity in each day (again even if it’s a 15 minute stretch break twice a day) helps rest and reset your brain.
– if you are really losing it (someone frustrated you, a training just went too long, a coworker is on your nerves, whatever), walk away. Get up from your computer and close it. Put your phone on silent so people can’t call for a bit and just give yourself 20-30 mins (set a timer if you need to) to do something else. Go take a shower, take a walk, call your mom or best friend and chat, run an errand you’ve been needing to get done (within the rules of course! But maybe you’ve needed to go to the grocery store or drop off a prescription), play with your pet, clean the kitchen, sit on the couch and play a game on your phone, start some laundry, go pick up coffee at Starbucks drive thru… something to get away from work and your mental state. You’ll come back with a much clearer head and a lot less negativity.

Anyway, not really specific product advice but after watching lots of family and friends (and my husband especially) who normally work in offices having some really bad days where they JUST CANT TAKE IT working from home anymore, I thought I’d share. Hope it helps!!!!

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Are you the Chelsea who lived in Virginia I believe? If so, good to ‘see’ you!

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Great tips thanks! My husband and I are working on different floors of our house so we text each other to plan our lunch time walk! I usually don’t take lunch when I am at the office but I have found it to be crucial when I am at home.

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Thanks for the tips Chelsea! I know my big problem is losing track of time resulting in not getting up for a few hours at a time. Now that I’m getting used to a certain work routine, the time has actually been going super fast, and before I know it I’ve been sitting for over 3 hours without budging… I definitely feel it when I finally do get up! I think I’ll need to heed your advice and set an alarm to remind myself to take a stand up break. 🙂

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Megan K.

Yeah, these tips totally help!! I am having a harder time detaching from my desk. Lunch? What? Its 2pm?! Totally me. I have started randomly showering in the middle of the day though, which is actually top notch! Thanks for leaving us some awesome suggestions. <3

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Heck yes to turtlenecks! As a woman of a certain age (LOL) I am distracted when I see my neck wrinkles on Zoom.

Also I don’t put on a full face but a pop of color from lipstick- and maybe a swipe of cream blush really help to give confidence on a zoom presentation.

Finally, I ordered some Bunny Eyez readers with blue light lenses. They flip up/down and are truly just amazing.

My newest trick is to take a 15 minute break before one of my long (up to 3 hours) Zoom sessions and I paint my nails! Time to dry without messing them up and I feel pampered!

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Emily Cosnotti

Oh I looove that nail painting trick, Lydea. Need to try that, it has been many moons since my last manicure.

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I’ve worked from home for 9 years and manis are one thing I purposely save to do on those full day trainings or back to back conf call days! I’m sitting at a table all day anyway so I just bring my nail stuff out in the morning and slowly do my nails throughout the day. The whole “having to be on video all the time” thing is a new phenomenon but if you’re not on video it’s easy! If you are, just pick your camera angle right and you could easily “be looking DOWN at your computer screen…” while really looking down at your nails. Another thing to save for full day conf call days is laundry. Easy to take your wireless headphones (or call in on your cell and put it on speaker) to the laundry room to sort and flip loads. Bring folding right over to your work area to make that day doubly productive!!! You’re not exactly taxing your brain while matching socks do you can EASILY listen to calls while getting a boring chore done.

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