The corona crisis is not one to take on lightly and to prevent unnecessary deaths, social distancing is of the highest importance. No more working at the office with our favourite, and maybe least favourite, colleagues is a big part of this.
Some people might regularly work from home and have an actual home office with multiple screens, a proper desk chair, adjustable desk and ergonomic mouse. From those who don’t – including me – it is a little bit of a struggle. This is why I wanted to share my tips on working from home which makes all of this a little easier without spending a lot of money: Working from home on a budget.
Let’s first talk about your workspace set up. A proper set up will decrease the chance of severe back pain and shoulder pain. Whether you are working on a PC or a laptop, the height of your screen is very important. When you have to look down all the time because your computer screen is too low, it puts a lot of tension on your neck which may result in pain, headache and fatigue.
I personally had a lot of pain in my neck and shoulders the first day I was working from home, simply because my laptop screen was too low. I decided to buy a mouse and keyboard, put my laptop on a stack of books and create a better workspace this way. For me, it works really well and it’s only cost me 20euros. You can buy a keyboard and mouse combination online which vary in price between 15 and 200 euros, the 20euro one I have works perfectly and has made my workspace much better.
Another thing I personally think is very important: The height of your table. When your table is too high compared to your chair, your arms won’t be relaxed and create – again – a lot of tension in your shoulder muscles. So my tip: Search your home for a chair that fits the table your working on! If you have an adjustable chair, make sure to adjust it correctly, in a way that your arms are relaxed when typing/working. If you feel that the chair is too high for your legs now, I recommend putting a box with a pillow underneath your feet to that they are comfortable as well.
I am still working on the chair table combination. We – my housemate and I – changed the living room layout a couple of days ago when we added another table which is a little lower, for us to work on. But I am not happy with the back support of the chair I am currently using, so I am going to be trying different chairs that we have at home the next couple of days, hope I find one that works.
The environment you are working in can either increase or decrease your motivation. I think that creating a permanent workspace will increase your work productivity. When creating a space in your home designated for work, your mind will over time associate this place with just work and keep you motivated.
Another thing that works for me is keeping my workspace tidy and surrounding myself with things that I love but aren’t distracting. For me, that would be plants. The office I work at has plants in it as well and I just like them in general, so a couple of leafy friends around my workspace is good for my productivity. Some background music might also work, music can make it feel like time goes by faster. I prefer a radio station without too much talking so that I won’t be distracted by it but so I will be able to keep up with the latest news easily.
Working from home can get lonely, especially when you live by yourself. So, it is good to video chat with your colleagues every once in a while. Maybe plan a coffee date every Monday and Thursday afternoon or morning. Don’t have anything planned yet with your division? Don’t be afraid to initiate it, people will probably appreciate you thinking of this.
This is a tricky one, sticking to a schedule… But by sticking to office hours when working from home, you will feel more in control of your life and it will give you a proper routine. You can, however, be a little more flexible when working from home. If you are more productive in the morning you can choose to start at 7am and end at 3pm, but if you’re more productive after sleeping in you might want to stick to the 9am to 5am hours. Be sure to communicate your ‘office hours’ to your colleagues though so that they will know when they can contact you.
Making a to-do list will likely increase your productivity as well. I prefer doing this at the end of the day for the next day but you can pick any time of day to write down your to do’s of course. Maybe making one at the beginning of your day works better for you.
Don’t forget to take breaks!
When working from home it is so easy to forget to take breaks. You will be more productive when you do take a break every once in a while though. Stretch your muscles, go for a walk around the block (if you can) and don’t forget about getting that cup of coffee or tea at home as well. If there is no one around you taking a break it can be difficult to remember. RSI break reminders like Dejal Time Out or EasyFWD can help remind you it is time to get up and walk around for a little bit – the perfect time to get a cuppa tea – or to stretch your muscles.
I got this tip from a colleague of mine: Go for a walk around the block before you start work. You will stretch your muscles a little bit and it will give you the feeling you’re actually going to work. I did it today and I got to say… It works!
Last but not least: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over unproductive days. Learn from them and work to do better next time.
It is difficult to make the switch from working at an office to working at home full-time instantly. Cut yourself some slack and accept that not every day can be as productive as when you were working at the office. You are trying your best and everything you can do on those off days is a bonus.
Keep the Friday afternoon drinks alive because no matter how the week went, you deserve them! Plan a video call with your colleagues or open a bottle of wine with your housemates and enjoy.
I hope these tips will help you out a little bit and if you have any tips that I haven’t shared here yet, please let me know. I’d love to hear them.
I’ll be here in my strange little town, lots of love