I have have been fortunate enough to have the flexibility with my full-time job to work from home (but only really while home sick or for urgent items while traveling) since early 2019, but was never really prepared to do it full time. COVID-19 stay home orders threw all of us for a loop and really messed up my daily work routine / rhythm, just as I’m sure it did for all of you. As of right now, a lot of Seattle’s tech-based companies are continuing to allow employees to work from home through at least the end of 2020 (my employer is following suit, which I feel incredibly grateful for) and if I am being completely honest, I only finally got into the proper swing of things a couple of months ago.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there were so many unknowns… including when we would be returning to the office so I didn’t put much effort into creating a proper workspace or schedule. After it became clear that we were going to be staying at home for the foreseeable future, I knew it was time to settle in for the long haul and create a new daily schedule for myself. In case you’re still struggling to find some structure and rhythm while working at home (no judgment!) I’m sharing some tips that helped me, as well as some of my favorite products that make working from home a bit more comfortable and enjoyable.
Tip #1: Find a schedule that works for you / your family. I have a 6:30am alarm to wake up and ease into the day — sipping a coffee in bed and getting caught up on news, social media, emails, etc. before I have to be on our daily company Zoom meeting at 8:30am. Since our Peloton arrived, I have tried to fit my rides in either before or just after my daily morning call just to get it out of the way on weekdays… plus, the temperature is always a bit more agreeable in the earlier hours of the day. Lunch time varies, depending on my husband’s schedule but usually lands somewhere between 11:30am and 1:30pm. Depending on what that day holds we end our workdays as we normally would, around 4:30pm. Of course, the entire day is pretty flexible… sometimes we work longer hours; it just depends, but it feels good to have some loose structure and a bit of routine.
Tip #2: Make your desk space both functional and uplifting, wherever that may be in your home. If it’s at the kitchen table, make sure that the table is cleared off before you start working and maybe take a seat that faces a window or place a plant / vase of fresh flowers nearby. If you have more of a traditional office desk setup, maybe bring over some art that inspires you or photos of loved ones to place on or hang above your desk.
Tip #3: Remove distracting clutter. I tend to allow some mild clutter to build up in our home because I’m a bit of a procrastinator – I once heard someone describe clutter as “postponed decisions” and I relate to that in my bones. After the clutter builds to a certain point, my brain feels like a web browser that has too many tabs open and I have trouble concentrating; in order to be productive I have to work through the clutter so that I can focus my energy on the tasks at hand. A tidy workspace creates a clear mind!
Tip #4: Unless you are someone that prefers complete silence, I suggest finding some Spotify Stations to have on in the background while you work… some chill music or even just some white noise. For whatever reason, having soothing music or sounds on in the room really helps me to get in the zone and focus.
My current favorite stations are: Paris Cafe Jazz, Chillwave & Dreampop, Coffee Beats, Electronic Focus, Workday Lounge, Your Favorite Coffeehouse, Coffee House Sounds Radio, and Crackling Log Fire with Thunder and Rain.
Tip #5: If you’re finding yourself getting overwhelmed and anxious, I recommend incorporating CBD into your life and routine. CBD oil has made a massive difference for me, and you can read all about my experience here.
If there is one thing you take away from this post, it’s to buy (and regularly wear!) blue-light protective glasses. Honestly, you should be wearing these even if you aren’t working from home with as many screens as we have in our lives nowadays with mobile phones, tablets, laptop screens, tv monitors, etc. The non-prescription models and basic readers are totally affordable, but you can also request this UV light filter on your prescription lenses, so be sure to ask your optician when you get your next pair of glasses. I used to work at an optometry / ophthalmology office in a past life and know firsthand how important this precaution is! So, seriously — please protect your eyes from harsh blue UV light and order the damn glasses! Better to be safe than sorry.
Using a laptop holder to elevate your laptop at your workstation comes in super handy when you’ve been bent over your keyboard for hours. It’s so much better for your posture if the laptop is elevated from traditional tabletop height.
Make sure you have the proper drinkware for your workspace! I’m a cold beverage person so maintaining that cool temperature is important to me… I’ve talked about my YETI Rambler before and it’s amazing at keeping my drinks icy cold; I loved it so much that I bought a second one. If you’re someone that likes for your beverages to stay hot, the Ember mug might be a great option for you! No more reheating your tea / coffee! Finally, no matter what your drink temperature preference is, this silicone-covered glass water bottle is a great one to have around to help keep you hydrated throughout the day. If you’re not in need of any new drinkware, I recommend these chic absorbent coasters.
Sometimes I need a little caffeine boost in the afternoons, but don’t want to commit to a whole cup of coffee so I keep a stash of Verb energy bars in my house as a snack. My favorite flavors are Vanilla Latte and seasonal flavor Gingersnap (and for those of you who are also being calorie-conscious, each bar is only 3 WW SP)!
I don’t care what time of year it is, I love wearing slippers around my house. They help to boost the comfy factor while on Zoom calls and beyond. I like to wear this pair during the warmer months and these in the cooler ones.
Whether you’re sitting in a hard wooden chair at the kitchen table or in a lumpy computer chair at your desk, I recommend getting a seat cushion to promote an ergonomic body position (and avoid poor back posture!). Nothing is worse than pain / discomfort while you’re trying to work, so a cushy pillow for your seat will make all the difference.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis like me, I highly recommend getting a desk fan to help regulate your temperature while you work. It’s a lot easier than trying to cool down your entire space and prevents super high a/c-related electric bills.
If you are taking video calls from your mobile phone instead of your desktop or laptop, I recommend getting an adjustable phone / tablet holder so that you can be hands free! It comes across as more professional than just holding the phone at arm’s length or propping your phone up on a stack of household items (and therefore spare you any unwanted arm strain or “Blair Witch Project” moments).
As we enter the autumn equinox and lose daylight hours, it’s helpful to have a desktop lamp for video calls. The illumination from this specific mirror / lamp mimics natural sunlight which not only illuminates your face while on Zoom, it also doubles as a daylight simulation lamp to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder in the darker months (if that’s something that you struggle with).
Create a soothing ambiance in your workspace with a scent diffuser. I normally advocate for candles, but if you’re heads-down working you won’t be giving the candle the attention that it requires. Most electric diffusers turn off after a certain period of time so are much safer.
This one is a budget friendly option; this one is chic and moderately priced; this one is an investment and can only use its own scent cartridges.
For the days that getting out of bed just isn’t happening (we all have them), a lap desk is an excellent option. I couldn’t decide between these styles… this one seems a bit more sturdy and adjusts to the angle you prefer, but I also really liked that this one has a comfy pad that rests on your lap.
I know that most things are becoming more and more online so anything paper-related is super antiquated, but I think having a small, basic printer / scanner is always a good thing to have. I wrote an entire post reviewing this printer / scanner and have nothing but positive things to say about it. If you are in the market for a device like this, I can’t recommend this model more.
As far as organization goes, I love the convenience of web and app based tools (such as calendars, reminders, lists, etc.), but my Xennial heart still loves to use “analog” tools sometimes such as this acrylic calendar, these sticky notes, and these pens. I love these other traditional desk items: pen cup, sticky note holder, tape dispenser, stapler, paperclip holder. I can’t get enough office supplies! 🤣
For reference, all of these items can be found in my Amazon Profile under “WFH Essentials“.
Hopefully, we can all go back to a semblance of normal sooner than later, but until then I hope that your working-from-home situation is improved by these suggestions!