How to work comfortably from home
Before this COVID-19 situation, home was a refuge away from work for many. With the Circuit Breaker being extended, so does our time working from home which has left many of us feeling restless.
Out of our usual working environment, we might have traded our large computer monitors and ergonomic computer chairs for laptops and regular chairs but here are 7 easy tips for you to avoid backaches, eye strains and mental slumps so that you can be a WFH champion.
1. Use a tennis ball to relieve backaches
A tennis-ball sized stress ball will do the trick too
Sitting at your desk all day can quickly cause your back to get sore. For a quick massage chair hack, a tennis ball or any similar-sized ball will be your best friend.
Sit in a chair and place the ball at the area that’s sore. Then, press into the back of the chair to your desired strength. You can even try moving side to side to have the ball rub over any knots you may have. Not only can you do this while you work, but you can also repeat the massage at the end of a day to relieve any tension in your upper back and shoulders.
2. Adjust your computer screen to eye level
Arguably the best part about working in the office is having large computer monitors to work from. While some companies allow their staff to bring home those monitors, many are relying on laptops to get their work done.
This can actually result in eye strains as well as neck aches from looking down for extended periods of time. It’s actually better for you to have your screen at eye level so that you don’t have to be hunched over.
While you can buy a dedicated laptop stand for this, an easy solution is to stack your laptop on top of books or even a sturdy container.
3. Roll a towel or hoodie for a makeshift back support
We tend to lean forward or slouch at our desks since it’s more comfortable at first. Though after a while, you’ll soon start to feel your neck tensing up from being hunched over.
To encourage better posture and support your spine’s natural curve, create a makeshift back support using a rolled-up hoodie or towel. For where to place the back support, sit down and stick your chest out, creating a hollow in the middle of your back – that’s where it’ll go.
4. Frozen water bottle for foot and leg pain
Grinding away on those home workouts can take a toll on your body. Anybody who’s ever done an intense lower body workout will know how uncomfortable muscle aches are while you’re trying to do work – especially if you’re sitting for long hours.
To ease the soreness and for an assured pick-me-up, freeze some water in a bottle – making sure it’s not glass, since it may crack or break when it’s out of the freezer. Roll over areas that feel tight like your calves and hamstrings.
For a nice foot rub, put a towel below your desk and roll one frozen bottle under each foot. It’ll cool you right down and your hands will be free to type away.
5. Play office ambient sounds to mimic your office environment
For those of us who are still trying to get used to working from home, there may be a way to trick our brains into getting into work-mode. You can do this by playing soothing ambient sounds that we usually hear in the office like the typing of keyboards or somebody using the printer, to mimic an office environment.
Pair this with noise-cancelling headphones to get into the right head-space, and choose sounds that are like white noise to you and turn off any sounds that are annoying or distracting.
Check out this playlist here.
6. Reduce blue light exposure to protect your eyes
Computers, mobile phones and other digital devices emit a significant amount of blue light. The problem with high exposure to blue light is that the light-sensitive cells in your retina can get damaged, which may eventually lead to a loss of vision. Not to mention, blue light can cause physical eye discomfort which may be the cause of your mid-day headaches and semi-blurred vision. Yikes.
To combat the emission of blue light from your devices, invest in a pair of PC glasses with blue-light reducing lenses. These glasses have filters which help block or absorb blue light rays, minimising strain on your eyes.
7. Take a reading break to get outta that mental slump
Sometimes, getting in a rut doesn’t mean you have to hunker down and force yourself to get through it. If you’re struggling to continue or finish a difficult task, giving your mind a short break can actually benefit you when you get back to it.
Following the Pomodoro Method, give yourself a 5-minute break after 25 minutes of work. Use this time to listen to a podcast or read an interesting article you’ve been meaning to. Choose something easy to digest and preferably about a different topic that you’re working on. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to tackle the task at hand.
With libraries closed during this Circuit Breaker, the NLB Mobile app is a great resource to have on hand. They have a wide range of eBooks, audiobooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers that you can access for free and have in your library. The NLB Mobile app is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Working comfortably and productively from home
By applying these easy tricks, you’ll be able to get into the right headspace and alleviate any body aches you may face from your less than ergonomic WFH set-up to ensure optimal productivity.
Besides spending this extra time we have at home on our hobbies, we can also use it to upgrade ourselves and learn new skills. The NLB Mobile app has over 700,000 copies of titles for you to choose from. So whether you’re interested in fiction or self-help books, there’s something for you. During this Circuit Breaker, you can also enjoy free access to SPH newspapers online at home. Just login with your myLibrary ID at the NLB eResources page and select the one you want to read.
Those looking for a light read can turn to the collection of OverDrive eMagazines that can be found on the app or its companion reading app, Libby. With a wide range of publications such as Allure, Bon Appetit, The Economist and Rolling Stone, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Parents who are looking for activities for their kids will be glad to know that they can find narrated eBooks that will educate and entertain the little ones. Choose a range of simple picture books your children can read along by themselves and tackle the longer ones with them.
The app also has a free online learning platform called LyndaLibrary which gives users access to a range of online courses taught by industry experts in areas like business, technology and creative design. Once you’ve selected a course, you can download the videos and easily stream it during your break or work on it after work.
With these resources on hand, we can make use of this extended Circuit Breaker to be productive even after office hours. While bingeing on Netflix shows is the easiest after-work choice, taking on a new project will not only challenge you but also better you in the long run.
This post was brought to you by the National Reading Movement.
Photography by Lance Leoh.