SEVEN TIPS TO WORK BETTER FROM HOME (and in the office, where it applies)
Working from home may be more comfortable for some people but never without issues. Some of them you might not even care about or notice - until you do. After working from home for almost four years, I had my struggles, and here I'm sharing my seven tips to work better from home. Some tips also apply to work in the office, like how to make use of an idle screen or choose the most effective songs to boost your productivity (backed up by scientific research). Enjoy WFH!
Tip #1: Switch rooms
Move to different rooms from time to time, like moving to your living room in the afternoon.
Tip #2: Work close to windows
There is very little movement out there, it won't be distracting, but the external setting may ease the stress of being isolated.
Tip #3: Invest in your environment and equipment
I have a Nespresso machine, tea, chocolate (85% cocoa), etc. The more you think about your workspace at home as permanent, the better it will get. For instance, this for me was a game-changer: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004YCUDMU/ as it allows me to switch my keyboard, mouse, and monitor to my personal desktop or my laptop with 1 click.
Tip #4: When you don't need the extra monitor or if you have a TV in your room
There are continuous streaming designed for relaxation like this aquarium (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAouh6jstiE) or these fireplaces (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJLB4Qv38vM or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9hz6SeUA-4) and you can find them even on Netflix (https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/70222873). Remember not to stream when you are on a VPN. Use a different device or disconnect from the VPN if you can.
Tip #5: Routine
Keep the same work hours you had before
Take the extra time in the morning to take a shower, have a slow breakfast, whatever fills you up with energy to start your workday relaxed and motivated. Do not work in your sleepwear. Set up alarms to make you have lunch at an appropriate time or anything else you may be finding difficult to manage time-wise.
Tip #6: Stretch regularly
Stretch your hips, shoulders, chest, arms, back, etc. Find a quick routine, not more than 5 minutes, and do it every 2 to 3 hours. I found this site targeting desk workers that seem to be interesting: https://skinnyms.com/11-stretches-every-desk-worker-must-know/. Choose the ones that you feel that make you feel the best and start stretching!
Tip #7: Listen to music, but with caution
This study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22523045) showed that pre-surgery patients listening to music lowered their levels of the stress hormone cortisone more than those that took anti-anxiety drugs. However, songs with lyrics reduce your productivity (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22523045).
At the same time, music that sounds familiar to you definitely works best because your brain won't get focused on new sounds
For repetitive tasks, music will help you do them faster and more accurately (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/379309).
For cognitive tasks, classic music and natural sounds (like rain, etc) will help you much more (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pms.1918.104.22.1681). For these natural sounds, there are many apps that you can download to your phone or just leave a YouTube streaming (never-ending) video (like tip #4) running in the background (as long as you find a way to bypass the VPN, otherwise do not use YouTube). If you are not much into music during work, try binaural beats. If you don't know what they are, take a look at this article (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320019). My favorite app for both natural sounds and binaural beats is https://www.relaxmelodies.com/, available for iOS and Android.