How to Make Working from Home Work for You
I just finished my third week of working from home due to the coronavirus, and I’ve learned a few things about what it takes to be successful outside of the office. Here are a few helpful tips for MS patients who currently spend more than a few hours behind a keyboard thanks to social distancing.
Lighting is a bright idea.
Whether it’s overhead or a desk lamp, make sure to have adequate illumination in your space. It makes things feel cozier and prevents eye strain and fatigue. This is especially important if, like me, you start your day before the sun.
Good angles are key.
I found I was struggling to type — and having a lot of neck and back pain — because my laptop screen was too low. I purchased a sturdy stand, plus a wireless keyboard and mouse, to compensate. If you need support, spring for ergonomic pads to help brace your wrists and make sure your chair supports your back sufficiently.
Stick to a schedule.
I found a daily planner page on Etsy and now print out enough copies for each week. It helps me keep up with my meetings, to-dos, and daily goals. It also has a place to record what I eat and drink, which is really important! (Staying hydrated is especially essential to keeping well.) I allotted time for working out and writing in my journal, too, so I didn’t stay stuck to my screen for too long. It really helps to have something to keep me on track, and checking things off a list is mighty satisfying.
Make the space pleasant.
Thankfully, I have what Virginia Woolf would call “a room of one’s own.” I’m working in one of my favorite spaces in the entire world — my library! But even if you have to work on the kitchen table, it’s worth taking the time to make your “office” pleasant. For example, I brought in a diffuser and let it refresh the room with lovely smells like lemon and orange. I also bought a small rug to put under my desk because it was more pleasant than resting my bare feet on bare (and often chilly) laminate flooring. (You think I’m wearing shoes right now!? No way.)
Establish rhythms for balance.
It’s hard to wind down when a space that’s normally “home” has been transformed into one dedicated to “work.” I noticed it was hard to relax and read in my library after finishing the day’s labor. I saw my laptop sitting out and felt like I should still be connected. To stop that, I’ve started some daily rhythms. For instance, I open my curtains in the morning to let light in and close them when I’m finished. Something in my brain enjoys the visual finality of that simple action. Also, during the day, I listen to music on my Spotify account, but at night, I choose to listen to something from my vinyl collection. It slows me down and puts me in another headspace.
Keep things tidy.
I am a neat freak by nature, but I find that keeping my stuff organized makes me a lot more productive. I keep plenty of pens and other office supplies at hand so I’m not hunting for them all the time and make sure to clean off my desk and empty my trash can at the end of each day. It helps to come into an orderly space and start with a clean slate.
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