What you Need in your Home Office (and what you don’t)

So you find yourself working from home. A lot of people are new to it but I spent years literally trapped at home and made it work by finding online gigs. So let me help you out now that nearly everyone I know is setting up a home office.

1. A lamp

Good light is key to a happy workspace in which you’ll feel alert and focused. I have a simple metal lamp from ikea. It’s aesthetically pleasing enough and it casts light over my entire desk. I went a step further and put a hue smart colour bulb in. This allows me to change the colour of my light with voice commands spoken to google, or from an app on my phone. Personally I like that I can have bright white light for zoom meetings but set more creative and fun vibes when I’m writing. I also often set it to automatically fade from one colour to the next. Sometimes simple touches like this can make you feel a lot more inclined to spend the time in your home office rather than sitting with your computer in front of the tv or elsewhere.

2. A Planner and Notepad

If you’re anything like me you like to write things down. I always have a notepad and planner open on my desk. This year I’m using the Living Well Planner. Writing things down, both in my planner on a schedule and in a notebook when I”m just making general notes, helps me to stay focused and work productively. These items house my ideas and translate the chaos of my ambitious thoughts in to workable plans. If you’re fully digital and don’t use paper products, but rather your digital calendar and note apps then go ahead and skip this one, of course.

4. A Google Homer Mini or smart speaker of choice

There’s so many reason to love smart speakers. Personally our house is currently set up with google homes and they’ve been working well. They’re reasonably cooperative with me as an apple user and they have a wide array of capabilities. One of my favourites that I use specifically in the office is “Hey Google, Good Morning”. You can set up routines in your google home app to have your google home complete a specific series of tasks for one command such as Good Morning, Good Night, I’m Leaving, I’m Home or whatever else you may think of. It can even include reading you a poem! In the morning when I greet google it turns on my office lights to my preferred setting, tells me of any calendar events I have in google calendar, shares the weather and then plays the news. Getting all this information while I”m setting in, waking up my laptop, reviewing my plans, checking my email etc. makes for great morning routine.

5. A Whiteboard (Maybe)

I’m a very visual person so I have two whiteboards on the wall in front of my desk. This means I’m always facing them and can easily reference the information on them. It’s a great place to stick quotes that will motivate you, key statistics if you’re monitoring social media platforms, reminders, ideas, to-do lists etc. One f mine is also magnetic which helps when keeping track of notes and papers that I need temporarily at my finger tips.

6. A Laptop Riser

We’re all just living in a zoom fish bowl these days and trying to hide the extra chins we’ve accumulated while snacking at home this last year. Dismiss the teetering stack of books, boxes and whatever else you have cluttering your desk and stacked up for every zoom meeting. I bought a simple laptop platform from Staples – my favourite part is that the place underneath is open so I can slide notebooks and whatnot in that space as I’m shifting through physical notes and materials during zoom calls.

7. Self Care Basics

For this, think of items like moisturizer, lib balm or even a brush, that you can utilize to give yourself a mini “brain break” without totally switching to focus on something else. It gives you an excuse to mull over complex issues without having your hands on the keyboard and feeling pressured to answer instantly. If you were in the office you might get up and go make a cup of tea, grab a bottle of water, or check in on a co-worker. You might still do these things on brain breaks but you might now so it’s good to have a back up way of stepping back and taking a deep breath.

What You Don’t Need

Avoid a lot of non-work activities – the book you’re reading, your craft project, your fave video game. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that you have to create a sense of separation between work and home even though they’re both housed in the same building now. Let your office be your work space. Avoid piling too many items there that will distract you from your goals and productivity.

Also avoid the trap of buying a million things you “need” in the excitement about working from home more and more steadily. These might be things like oil diffusers, fancier then needed pen holders and tape dispensers. Before you know it your desk will barely have room for your laptop and a cup of tea!

What are your biggest questions or struggles with working remotely? Love it? Hate it? Wish you did more of it? I want to hear your thoughts!

Top Five tips to Rock Working from Home

It’s a bad habit many of us have to let our routines become chores. We just kind of accept that the routine is going to suck but, what are you gonna do? You gotta work, right? With many more people working from home during the pandemic and a number of companies exploring longer term work from home policies here’s a few ideas for creating a work from home routine that doesn’t suck.

  1. Lunch time: This is the easiest answer to where some mid-day you time comes from. Lunch hours are there because it’s no secret our brains need breaks. Humans are just not designed for 8-9 hours of focused work. So leave your work station during your lunch time. Even if it’s as simple as moving from your office space or computer desk and sitting in your kitchen to eat. In a small space like a small condo or apartment just make sure you’re in a different seat that allow your body to relax and perhaps facing a different direction – like out a window – so you’re not just staring at your computer from another angle.

2. When the work day is done, Shut down. Walk away. Be done. This was my absolute biggest challenge working from home. Work was always right there. I could just pop in to the office and… and, and, and… it never ended. I was always just a thought away from work mode and it made life difficult. I couldn’t really relax and just focus on the time and people I was with. Don’t get sucked in to the vortex of always working just because it’s right there.

3. Find a task management system you like. It’s easy to finish a work day and wonder what you even did all day and where the time went. Whether it’s an old fashioned to-do list, a task management app you’re loyal to or a time-tested strategy like the Pomodoro system – find a way to manage your tasks that you will like and use, and that will allow you to know you got done what you needed to.

4. Don’t forget to move and hydrate. If you’re like me and wear a fitbit then it will remind you to take a minimum number of steps per hour. Apple watches have a similar feature but it’s also just as effective to set hourly reminders on your phone to have a stretch, pace around a bit, look out a window… anything that means you aren’t stuck in one position all day long. Same with hydration. There’s apps that will remind you, as will simple phone reminders or drink wear with time-goals on it. Regardless of how you go about it don’t get sucked in to a work vortex and forget to look after yourself.

5. Stay connected. If your workplace has work-approved methods of staying in contact like an employee chat then use it. If they don’t have this type of set up then go ahead and reach out to text your colleagues from time to time. Whether it’s to pick their brain the way you would if they were just the next office over or for a little water cooler chat don’t let working from home become extra isolating.

Overall, think about the parts of your workday that you enjoy the most and how you can build a schedule and routine that flows and balances all of your needs. It should include focus time and allow you to be a badass powerhouse but also should include time that nourishes you and boundaries that let you be so much more than a workaholic.

Drop a comment with your fave work from home tips, tricks and routines!

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