I’m willing to bet many of you are reading this article from your home office today. And I use the term “home office” loosely because the truth of the situation is that for many of us that really means a corner of a spare bedroom, the dining room table, or even perhaps a converted closet. And with COVID-19 infection rates continuing to vary across the country, our eventual return date is still anyone’s guess. If you haven’t already optimized your remote workspace for comfort and productivity, what are you waiting for? Wherever you clock in your 8-5 from, here are six tips to up your #WFH game.
Make sure you have enough light
Of course, this was going to be at the top of our list! Proper lighting is so critical to performing your daily work that we devoted an entire blog post to it last year. Natural light is best, but unreliable on the occasional overcast day or when logging in a quick work session after dark. Having a task light on your desk does more than provide adequate illumination—it can prevent headaches, eyestrain, and more. You can read more about how to adequately light your home office here.
good great place to sit
If you could only make one investment, this is where we would recommend it. (As someone who spent the first three months of quarantine last year sitting on a dining room chair for 8+ hours a day, I can vouch for this one.) A quality chair encourages good posture through proper alignment of the spine and your limbs, which contributes to overall health and wellness, as well as productivity. If you are constantly uncomfortable, you’re not going to be as productive if you’re constantly getting up and moving around to get some relief.
Consider asking your facilities department if you can temporarily bring your office chair home. If that is not an option, try working a few hours a day from a standing position to lessen the amount of time spent in an uncomfortable chair. If you have a bar-height countertop in your home, they are ideal for this.
If you are in the market to purchase one, invest in the highest quality chair that you can afford. For further reading, this article has some helpful tips.
Keep only what you need…
Considering your desktop at home is probably far less spacious than its office counterpart, you should be very mindful of the items that you allow to have a permanent home on your worksurface. A crowded or cluttered workspace invites distraction and kills productivity. For example, your desktop landscape at work may have featured a pencil cup, tape dispenser, and stapler, but consider how often you may use these tools at home. Do you need a full selection of writing tools within arm’s reach during the day, or will one suffice? If they aren’t among your daily MVPs, they can be relegated to a utility drawer in the kitchen or stored in a caddy (like ours) to be stowed below your worksurface, freeing up valuable real estate and encouraging focus on the tasks at hand.
…But keep one thing that sparks joy
This tip is courtesy of Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein’s latest book collaboration, “Joy at Work”. Even with space at a premium as noted above, having one small token on your desk that reminds you of a happy memory helps to keep a positive outlook or relieve stress. A small souvenir from a favorite vacation such as a shell or stone, a scribbled drawing on a sticky note from your preschooler, or even a single flower stem in a bud vase is all you need to give you a shot of joy in your workday.
Become friends with a kitchen timer
Many would agree that working from home has lots of great advantages, but some of them come at the detriment of maintaining our focus. One simple way to help encourage a productive ‘flow state’ during the day is to work in small, defined sprints of time bookended by small periods of rest. An example of this is called the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique consists of alternating 25-minute blocks of focused work with 5-minute breaks in between. After four Pomodoro sessions, you are rewarded with a longer 15- to 30-minute break, which helps with motivation and bolsters creativity. The cycle repeats throughout the day, keeping you productive with plenty of opportunity for balance and rest. If you’re interested in giving the technique a try for yourself, check out this article here for more details on how to get started.
Make tomorrow great, too.
Perhaps the best way to end your day is to spend a few minutes setting tomorrow up for success. Review any meetings or appointments scheduled for the next day and make sure you have what you need for them. Tidy up your desktop, file any papers, stow any work tools, and walk your crusty coffee mug to the sink. Finally, identify your top three priorities for the next day and note them on your to-do list or planner. That way when you sit down tomorrow morning to a calm and organized space, you’ll know exactly what needs your attention first (and you’ll have a place to put that fresh cup of coffee!).