The Survival Guide to Working From Home
Since much of the world is WFH I thought I would share some of the knowledge I’ve picked up over the last few years. It might surprise people to learn that working from home takes a little more stamina than it appears on the surface. It becomes especially taxing when you’re also advised from doing the other things in life you enjoy like meeting up with friends or going out to eat. But if you do it right, it can be the change in your life you didn’t know you needed.
Maintaining as much separation from work life and home life is really important. If you have the luxury of a whole separate office within your house, great! Make that office space yours, shut the door when you’re working and when you’re in there stay focused. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a separate office space, but even having a designated place to work will make a huge difference.
I work at the table and watch Netflix and have video chats from my couch or my bed. Having a designated spot puts you in the mindset of being at work when you’re in that space. It also makes it easier to leave behind when you’re done because relaxing during your off hours is just as important as being focused during on hours.
Sitting in front of a computer screen all day is tough no matter where you are, but sitting on a kitchen chair all day versus sitting in an office chair with padding, arm rests and a swivel will really start to take a toll on your body. Some people use exercise balls or standing desks, but if you don’t have any of that at your disposal try something as simple as sitting on a cushion or a pillow. Just don’t fart into it too much.
Having a posture corrector has changed my life. I’ve been very surprised about how often I am asked about mine. Apparently it isn’t just me with these problems! I have one that only goes around my shoulders. It doesn’t correct my spine, but ultimately it’s pretty awkward to have a hunched spine with my shoulders back so I end up correcting myself anyway. I also find that when I’m not using it I am more aware of my posture so it helps correct me even after taking it off. It has helped tremendously with the stiffness in my upper back and good posture is great for overall health. There are many variations so get what work best for you.
Similarly, when you’re using a laptop it’s generally not at eye level. Having a stand to raise it up or stacking a few books underneath will keep your head level and ends up making a big difference in posture.
Buy what you need, within reason, to make your office as easy to work in as it was in the office. You might be able to expense it, you might not. Since for me, working out of the office is a personal choice I made, I’ve invested my own money into my set up but it really doesn’t need to be anything fancy.
My office needs to be portable so, in addition to price, I also have to consider size and weight. Even if you’re used to working from a laptop, a wireless keyboard and mouse are better. I promise.
If anything has changed my life more than my shoulder brace, it is my second screen. It is extremely thin and lightweight and even came with its own case. These easy additions upped my productivity exponentially.
For digital nomads, have multiple versions of the varying different outlet converters. And to everyone who is not working alone, for the love of god, get headphones.
Yeah, there are a lot of unanticipated hardships about working from home, but don’t let those drown out all of the benefits! There are a ton of great things you can capitalize on when you’re sharing your work and living space.
Have a little down time or a few minutes in between meetings? Fold your laundry or wash the dishes. Get some of those small tasks done and save yourself that precious time for later. Save money and eat healthier by cooking your lunch at home.
Clients driving you insane? Open up a bottle up at 4:45, let that sucker breathe for a little and as soon as the clock strikes 5 bottoms up because, no driving!
Sleep in because you’ve just gained so much time back in your life! Snuggle with your dog. Poop in the comfort of your own home.
If it is safe, switch it up. This is slightly more applicable to digital nomads than to those who are home because of Covid, but I find that changing my workspace every now and then is helpful. Back when anything was open I would go to a café once a week for a few hours or find a coworking space. Coworking spaces can off a community of other like minded people, strong wifi in place that don’t always guarantee it and some great deals. I’ve been to coworking places that partner or share spaces with cafes or hostels offering deals on food and drinks, accomodation and even massages.
In direct contrast to what I said about separation, if it’s a nice day then sit outside for a little while and soak in the weather. Nobody likes working inside staring into the beautiful day they can’t enjoy.
Sometimes it’s in the little things. I move around a lot, even during lockdown I have lived in five different apartments so I can’t really decorate or carry around a lot of extra things with me. I have, however, discovered that something as simple as having a few nicely scented candles burning nearby adds something more personal to my space.
It’s still important to have that routine, even if your routine is rolling out of bed and over to your desk. Develop some good habits at home and figure out what you can take back to the office. Working remotely has its pros and cons, just like going to the office does. Just like everything else in life does. It can open up so many opportunities and has personally changed the way I live.
It is a privilege in every sense of the word but I hope those of us fortunate enough to be able to do so can use it to change the working culture in the United States and around the world. What do you think?