5 Tips To Stay Sane And Healthy When Working From Home
By Dominique Afacan
When you’re slaving away in a crowded office, the idea of working from home can seem like the ultimate luxury. The reality, though, often doesn’t quite live up to expectations. You might not have to endure a painful commute anymore and there’s no boss looking over your shoulder if you want to take a breather – but along with all of those lovely new privileges, you’re now looking at lonely days with no office banter to pass the time, very little distinction between home and work life and often, makeshift desk set ups that make your back ache. Here are some tips to help you stay sane in your new home office.
- Define Your Workspace
So for a week or two as you luxuriate in your new-found freedom, it’s fine to bring your laptop back to bed with your morning coffee every morning. Sooner or later though, you’ll realise this is not going to work long-term. Not only will it wreak havoc on your neck and back to bash out emails from a semi-reclined position, but when your brain, body and location aren’t aligned, it shows in your output. Eventually, you’ll crave a proper desk zone that you associate with work, where you can show up every morning (ideally dressed for the occasion) knowing that your day starts and ends right here. Find that work zone, whether it’s a spare room, a kitchen table or a shed in the garden and then look at the ergonomics; if you’re tapping away on a laptop, it can be really useful to get a laptop stand and an external keyboard to stop from craning over your screen. And take a good look at the chair you’re going to use`– you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it, so make sure it offers the right level of support. No slouching!
- Get Out Of The House
One of the dangers of working from home is that you have very little need to go through your front door… ever. That means it’s super important to schedule time to get out of the house every day – whether it’s a quick change of scenery at your local café, a ten minute time out in your garden, or a saunter to the post office. Even if you have a terrible deadline looming, a quick burst of fresh air will provide an enormous lift – meaning you’ll go back to business with renewed vigour.
- Stay in touch
Oh, the joys of not having to speak to any colleagues for an entire day! Goodbye small talk, and tedious questions about your weekend, goodbye awkward water cooler conversations and birthday card signings of people you’ve never met. But also… goodbye to humans. It’s just you and you now, kid. And whilst that may seem enormously exciting at first, after a few days you’ll realise that you miss human interaction – damn, you even miss the small talk. Who are you supposed to talk to about this torrential rain? Who can you vent to about your dreadful client? Who can you make a cup of tea for? Nobody, that’s who. So it’s time to be proactive. When working from home, it’s vitally important to schedule some social interaction into your day – whether that’s remote meetings, Skype calls, Slack chat or face-to-face meetings. Time alone, fine. Isolation, not so much.
- Have a schedule
You will likely find that you are able to be far more productive when you work from home –there are no meetings to attend, no colleagues sauntering up to your desk for chats and you win back the hours you would have spent on your journey to or from the office. But you’re also far more likely to linger in bed for an extra hour, or pop out for a run if the weather’s good. That’s all well and good of course – you must take advantage of your situation after all – but when productivity drops, that means it’s not working. So, it’s important to have some semblance of a schedule. Your start time is key, and you should be dressed and at your desk by then, and your end time is equally important, to stop your working day leaking into your free time. In between, schedule in a break for lunch and a few small breathers. The structure, whether you stick to it rigidly or not, will help you make the most of your day.
- Move, Stretch, Exercise
Desk jobs, whether at home or at work, unfortunately encourage sedentary lifestyles. One of the joys of working from home is the ability to go to the gym when you won’t have to fight for a bike – or to go for a run simply because there’s a half hour window of sunshine. Take advantage of this – and make sure you move or do something active each and every day. At the very least, taking regular breaks from your computer to do some stretches is better than nothing and will give your brain and body a boost. And finally, if you’re lacking motivation, get a dog! Now that you work from home, you are in the perfect position to consider dog ownership, and what could encourage you to get your walking shoes on every day more than an excitable pooch?
Dominique Afacan is the co-founder of Bolder and a freelance editor and writer based in London. She works from home.