10 WFH upgrades that have nothing to do with desk ergonomics.
Friday, February 5, 2021
Here are some upgrades to make your WFH situation more comfortable. And they have nothing to do with decluttering your desk, organizing your pens or choosing the perfect office chair.
1. Open a café
If you’re like us, you’re making a lot more tea and coffee at home now. Gone are the days of hitting the drive-thru on your commute. It could be worth it to invest in that coffee maker or espresso machine you’ve had your eye on. If you miss the flavor varieties and different creamers in the breakroom, consider a coffee or tea subscription box or treat yourself to a new mix-in.
2. Create a breakroom
It can be tempting to “make the most of your time” now that you aren’t commuting. But if that means you’re working, working, working without even taking a lunch break, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. Designate somewhere besides your workspace as a breakroom and retreat there for quick recharges and for lunch. The change of scenery will give your mind the break it needs to focus better later in the day and help to keep you from burning out. Get creative. It doesn’t have to be the dining room table, especially if that’s now your desk. Eat on the porch, kick your feet up on the couch or try a park bench if you need even more distance from your desk.
3. Set a timer
Ask Alexa to set a timer so you don’t miss your break, even if it’s just to stretch your legs at your desk, look out the window instead of at your computer screen or make a snack. You can also set “do not disturb” timers, on a smart device or the microwave, for your kids. If you have an important call or need an uninterrupted stretch of time to focus, train others in the house that until the timer goes off, you’re off limits.
4. Let others self-serve
Another good way to limit interruptions from family members is to make it easy for them to serve themselves. Put the kids’ healthy snacks at their eye level, post a daily schedule in the command center so they know what their tasks are without having to ask you and make sure they have all the school or craft supplies they need to stay busy.
5. Make a WFH playlist
Or a couple playlists. Ingrid Fetell Lee at TED Talks made one to help switch her brain over from household tasks like cleaning up from breakfast to work tasks. You could make another to create a more pleasant working environment. It could be soothing background noise, such as nature sounds or pleasant coffeehouse chatter, or your favorite podcast. Choose whatever makes you feel most productive. You can even use them as a timer, like we mentioned earlier. When your smart speaker starts to play your “break playlist,” it’s time to step away from the spreadsheets.
6. Prepare for your breaks
When you’re trying to get into a morning gym habit, people always tell you to pack your bag the night before. Do the same for your WFH breaks. If you want to take a walk to unplug, put your shoes by the door at the start of the day. If you want to do some yoga, set your mat out where you’ll be more likely to use it. If you want to cross some chores off your to-do list – vacuuming can be very therapeutic – empty the bin and filter ahead of time.
7. Prep your lunch
Meal prep just like you would pack your lunch the night before when you were going into the office. That way, even if you do have to stay at your desk, you’ll still be able to fuel up for the rest of the day. Remember, a hangry brain is an unfocused brain, so don’t skip meals.
8. Keep an eye on things with smart devices
You’re tying to work and you keep hearing the door open and close. Which of the kiddos just left? Or was that someone coming back in? Did they lock up after themselves? Turn to technology like smart locks and video doorbells to help you keep track of your family’s comings and goings without leaving your desk every 30 seconds.
9. Set fun boundaries
Achieving work/life balance was difficult before the pandemic. Setting those boundaries hasn’t gotten any easier since. Choose an activity that signals the end to the work day, something bigger and more fun than simply closing your laptop. Then gather what you need to make it happen every day. Use the time you would have spent on a commute home to soak in the tub, fix yourself a treat or practice self-care in whatever way works best for you.
10. Set up a screen-free hobby space
When setting your fun boundaries, try to carve out a space that doesn’t involve screens. Some of the most common complaints of working from home are migraines and eye strain from so much screen time. So when you clock out, head somewhere technology can’t touch you. It could be your peaceful garden, the workbench in your garage or a comfy chair where you can just close your eyes.