I’ve been working from home for almost 10 years. After experiencing layoffs twice in two years, I simply never went back to work after the 2008 recession – correction – I never went back to work in the big office. Instead, I went through some very lean years. In fact, for one year, I stayed in a homeless shelter and put my laptop in my backpack and took the bus to the City Library to use their free internet every day.
Now, I’m in my own little 2-bedroom apartment, comfortably working online. But, the point is, I’ve done this for a while so I have some helpful suggestions for those of you who are new to this. If this is a topic you want to know more about, I invite you to continue reading for some useful tips about working from home.
The Ins & Outs of Working From Home
The Transition & the Adjustments
You might find it surprising just how interesting it is to transition from working in an office to working from home. Honestly, all the things you take for granted in the office can be so different at home.
For instance, how do you explain to your fur babies that even though you’re at home, it no longer means playtime? How do you deal with those little hurt feelings without distractions from your work? The good news is, they will adjust, but it takes a little effort to get them there.
I find that working around their schedule is sometimes easier than getting them to “wait” for my attention. Remember that old phrase, “acceptance is the key.” So, I save the work that takes an extra amount of focus to complete successfully for my cat’s nap times. Thankfully, cats nap A LOT! But, when she’s not napping – she gets kind of demanding!
Set Loving But Firm Boundaries
That’s only the beginning because, during this particular crisis, our children are at home too. They are even harder to convince that mom and dad are “working” right now and can’t talk. In fact, the occasional demanding, “I need it now” phone call from your child during the day is face-to-face when you’re at home. Just think about those possibilities for a few minutes…
Setting boundaries and explaining the work situation clearly with your children is one of the first considerations of working from home. One easy way to do this is to find a spot for your office that is off the beaten track. Of course, that differs from home to home, depending on your layout. If you’re having trouble trying to fit an office in, here are some tips from my favorite interior design website about setting up a home office.
If you can set up a physical distance with a room divider or a quiet corner in the family room, you’re ahead of the game. You might even consider setting up an office in an outside structure if you have one.
Additionally, everything I read when researching this topic also states to never work in your bedroom. Well, that’s the biggest room in my home where there’s privacy and access to a nice window for natural light, so that’s where I work each day. I believe in making do with what I have.
Your first task is to set up an ergonomic work area that is comfortable. Yes! It must be every bit as comfortable as your work station in the big office. The kitchen chair might be fine for a few days but it won’t be long before your body is screaming! After all, when does anyone sit in the kitchen chair for 8 hours? I don’t know about you, but my head is swinging around trying to spot the Rosemary Essential Oil just thinking about that!
If you are unable to run out and buy new office furniture, it’s OK. I bought an office chair from the Salvation Army thrift store that originally was a $300 chair. It cost me $35 and a little elbow grease to clean it up. Because I’m short and my home table is just a bit high for me, I also purchased an ergonomic seat cushion from Amazon that made the chair perfect for me.
Additionally, the more I read about adjustable desks, the more they look really good to me. I found a model on Amazon that has variable speeds for raising or lowering the desk top. This gives you the freedom to stand or sit. Additionally, while sitting or standing, it gives you the freedom to adjust your desk to fit you perfectly! I’ve been working in offices since the early 1970s and this is the best innovation for the comfort and productivity of office workers that I’ve seen in all those years. I am very impressed! Now, it’s time for me to go shopping for one. Here is one that I picked out on Amazon. Although I haven’t yet ordered it, after some research it looks like an amazing table with a lower price that I’ve seen for an adjustable desk that is this loaded with features. I invite you to click through and watch the video.
The Right Tools
Working from home in our modern era involves office equipment. But, thankfully, all you need is one good computer, reliable internet connection, and your smart phone. The rest is gravy! Printing orders, communications of many types, and digital projects are all deliverable online. I have a printer but rarely use it except for scanning. In fact, I go through about 1 full ream of paper per year and after two years I am only now ready to refill the ink.
For eye ergonomics or ease of viewing, I like to plug a 32″ monitor into my laptop. There are so many different sizes and configurations of monitors that you will easily find one that fits your office layout perfectly. Sometimes, you have to do a little research and online “shopping around” but I guarantee your perfect monitor is out there.
⎆ Video Conferencing
Additionally, prepare yourself for video conferencing. There is a myriad of apps you can access for these purposes. In fact, I found an awesome article that lists several video conferencing venues for your team while working from home. Of course, the use of live cameras also involves being presentable. That brings us to the next point which is it is important to keep a regular schedule and to get up each morning with the intent of going to work.
⎆ Get Up & Go At It!
That means taking a shower, fixing your hair, and dressing for the day. One of my morning habits is to make my bed. I do this because it gives me a small sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning and that’s a nice feeling to have when starting your day. Keeping these normal habits intact when working from home is so important to your mental and physical health. In fact, doing so helps keep stress levels down to a manageable level and that’s a win-win.
Ease the Pain!
Seriously, I know all about pain. I’m in my sixties and I’ve been sitting in front of a computer since the early 70s. I have to laugh at the videos you see with the young entrepreneurs sitting on their couches or park benches with their laptops working away effortlessly and making millions. Oh my gosh! No one does that ever! It’s just plain painful to sit like that over long periods of time.
Here’s what I do to relieve pain from sitting in one spot for too long (or for too many years.)
⎆ Rosemary Essential Oil for Pain Relief
My left shoulder and everything connected to it from my arm to my neck to the back of my head get so painful sometimes that it feels like someone is stabbing me. Now I use Rosemary oil every day before the pain occurs. I use it topically without diluting but please test your skin first because everyone’s body chemistry is just a little different so skin testing is always a smart tactic.
⎆ Stretching for Pain Relief
Find the stretches that work for you! Research online and don’t stop until you are pain-free. The Universe brought the right stretches to me when I was researching an article for one of my clients. Amazingly, they were the perfect stretches for me. However, I’m not a Doc so I leave that research up to you. Additionally, I am including an infographic of basic yoga stretches that are a good place for almost everyone to start.
⎆ Light Tylenol Therapy
I take one Tylenol in the morning and one at noon. It’s a low enough dosage that it’s not going to hurt my stomach but it keeps the pain down just enough that when used in combination with the Rosemary Essential Oil, I stay virtually pain-free most of the time. The times when I feel pain now are when I try to push myself to work too many hours. It’s a choice but not a very good one if you want to avoid work related stress.
⎆ Take a Walk & Breath the Fresh Air
Keep your social distances but take a walk in the fresh air. Even just walking up and down the stairs is a great way to refresh and restart your day anytime. We’ve all heard the recommendations to keep moving. Find your “moving” habits and stick with them. Along with this, be sure to get at least a few hours of natural sunlight through the window or go sit on your balcony or patio for a while.
With these tactics, over the past year, I’ve been able to continue working from home without pain. I might add that these are recent tactics for me because, before this past year, I thought I was going to have to stop working because the pain was getting so severe. But now I know I have many years of creative work left in my life. So, thanks to all that’s good and wonderful in the Universe for allowing me to continue working! But most of all, THANK YOU for reading and I wish you the very best that the Universe has to offer. Namaste!