Roughly 40% of Americans are working from home this year. Maybe you’re one of them? What in the spring many thought would be a few weeks of connecting to a remote office has turned into a semi-permanent way of life. Together we’re discovering ways to adapt and even maximize our time at home. Read on for a few tips to take the pain out of your new daily routine.
You’ve probably caught on by now, but staying in one’s pajamas 24/7 doesn’t exactly inspire a person to do his or her best work. It can be a slippery slope, you see. All-day sweatpants may seem harmless, but then you may find yourself oversleeping, missing meetings, and using what could have been constructive brainstorming time to flop on the couch or pick up your toddler’s toys. Getting dressed helps signal to your brain that it’s time to get into the work zone. But hey, we are in the midst of a pandemic, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If swaddling yourself with all things soft and cozy is working for you, we say go right ahead.
Hack your space.
Curling up in an armchair might be okay for an hour, but not for the medium or long term. You need a dedicated workspace — for both your mental and physical health. If you don’t have an extra room with a door that closes, you may need to see closets, hallways, attics, basements, and kitchens with new eyes. Short on tables and chairs? Check apps like Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace. With lots of folks moving, there are many second-hand finds. When it comes to ergonomics, there’s a general rule of 90 degrees. When looking at your computer, your chin should be parallel to the ground (we don’t want any tech neck!). You may need to elevate your monitor with a shoebox or books. Your elbows should also be at 90 degrees when you’re typing, and your knees should be at 90 degrees with your feet resting on the floor or footrest. You don’t necessarily need to buy lots of new accessories, but you do need to gather props like boxes, cushions, even rolled-up towels for lumbar support, and play with a range of set-ups to make sure you’ve found the one that works best for you.
We know, it’s hard. There are little ones trying to figure out Zoom school, piles of laundry that keep growing, a partner with perhaps some volume control needed when on conference calls. If you’re in a busy household, use a whiteboard or create a homespun sign to alert loved ones that you’re busy or ‘ON AIR’, like a deejay (sounds better than ‘I’M BUSY’, right?). That way they’ll know you’re in a meeting or concentrating on a task. Headphones also have a do-not-disturb effect. Try to keep housework and social planning for early mornings or evenings, so they don’t eat into your productivity.
Stretch it out.
Whether you’re at a standing desk or seated, cloistered under the stairs, or spread out in your mother-in-law’s guest bedroom, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day to stretch and walk. Experts recommend taking a ten-minute break for every one hour of work. If you can’t sneak in breaks that often because of back-to-back calls and household responsibilities, try to squeeze in stretching and walking while you’re doing passive work like listening in on calls or reading. Your body will thank you for pausing for some daily desk yoga. It will also thank you for adding Liweli to your routine, too.