Look around your at-home work table, think of how you can make it more work-friendly (and back problem friendly). Have you been doing work from home right?
Quick reminder to straighten your back! We’re almost halfway into 2021, with Covid still causing rampage around the globe and our work lives will probably never be the same. We’ve come to terms with the bitterness of coping with loss from afar, surviving hotel quarantine, and Covid toying with our hype of a potential travel bubble. Hope you’re still keeping your back straight because I’m about to drop some tips on how not to work from home during this pandemic in Hong Kong.
After switching from a rigid timed working schedule during my teaching years to a flexible remote schedule, I went down a whirlwind of pros and cons. As much as I enjoy working in my pajamas with a make-up-free face, it does get frustrating to balance my work with household chores and maintaining my social life. Some nights, I’m in front of my laptop after dinner, finishing off work and I don’t suppose I’m the only one.
Don’t feel guilty about being a workaholic, it stems from Hong Kong’s work culture – with an average of about 44 work hours per week. I’m not saying this is good, this is definitely something that needs a lot of rethinking. Given our hard-working nature, the sudden shift to an at-home office can easily make one feel all over the place, so I’m here to highlight all the don’ts when mingling work with the sanctuary that is your home.
Disclaimer: I’m no therapist/psychologist, I’m simply listing out what has been working for me during work from home.
1. Step away from the bed, darlings.
Oh the temptation of just staying in your unmade bed. Sure it feels comfortable at first but without you realising, you will be having back problems in your mid-20s. Make your bed the minute you get up and don’t turn back unless you want a short power nap. If you feel like you don’t have an ergonomic chair, don’t shy away from investing in one. You’ll be paying more for the physiotherapist if back pain persists, know what I mean?
2. Don’t feel like you need to be available 24/7
No, I’m not telling you to shut off your coworkers, communication is key during work from home but overcommunication adds to stress. Don’t feel like you owe your time to everyone, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t answer your Whatsapp at 11pm at night! Set a time limit for yourself, if you’re going to be away from the laptop from 6.30pm onwards, let your coworkers know beforehand. Also, don’t hassle yourself by checking emails even during weekends.
3. Never skip a meal, your body needs fuel!
Have a meeting at 9am? Then make the effort to get up earlier and make yourself some good, hearty breakie (or even take-away works!) And I mean more than just a cuppa coffee. And be sure not to skip lunch when you’re head over heels at work, halt everything and have some mindful time for food. Try not to eat on the go, focus on what’s in front of you on your plate and keep your phone, laptop, and any gadget away from the table. I’m guilty of having lunch at 3pm just because I want to get some work done first but this only causes more harm to your mind and body (taking notes for myself too).
4. Don’t forget to step out of the house at least once a day
Step out, breathe, and fill your lungs with all that fresh air (polluted air but you get the point!) Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, it will do wonders for your mind. Set aside some lone walk time every day, it doesn’t have to be the exact timing every day, be flexible. Don’t treat this as another task you need to do for yourself, rather enjoy the walk. Spotting some cute doggos always cheers me up!
5. Don’t make every space at home your work space, it’s more psychological than physical.
Bed? For work. Dining table? For work. Couch? For work. Sound familiar? Choose one space in your home to be your workspace, this will help you prevent mingling everything in your home with work. If you work with papers, file them and keep them in one space only. Be strict on your workstation or you’ll feel the work stress creeping on you even when you’re just trying to chill in your bed or couch.
6. Try not to leave all your work for the evening.
Set a habit to get as much work during the day. It’s true that we feel productive during different times of the day but leaving things for later could add to the stress. Plus, no one wants to feel occupied all throughout the day. Throw in your favourite music in the background (not too loud), grab some munchies, and work away! Yes, this is easier said than done but with practice and patience, we shall overcome procrastination together!
7. Holidays are for jolly days, boo.
Enough said. Holidays and work should not go hand in hand.
8. Speaking of holidays, you don’t need to pile up your annual leave.
You may rethink taking some days off cause you’re working from home anyway. Here’s the catch, even just chilling at home and not working is a well-spent annual leave. And even if we can’t travel just yet, there’s plenty to do in Hong Kong. You can go island hopping, strike out at bowling alleys, shop or window shop at malls, explore a new restaurant or cafe, go on a hike, honestly the list goes on. Basically, what I’m saying is, don’t second doubt that annual leave.
9. Lastly, don’t let the work from home stress break your spirit!
You may easily feel overwhelmed and some days may not feel like your day and that’s totally okay. It’s also important to not vent out your frustration on your family members, loved ones, or pets – we’re all walking on fire at this point. If you need help, you can always reach out to family, friends, or counsellors. The bottom line is you are doing great and you are always your own hero!