For the past 18 months and following a big life move from Edmonton to Victoria, I’ve been working from home for the first time in my life. While it would be easy to point the finger at Covid, the truth is that it would have happened anyway. My life over 50 is all about doing things differently, challenging myself, and finding ways to improve my quality of life.
When I decided to make that big (scary) move, my goals included working with clients I love, carving out my own schedule, and enjoying the convenience of a home office. And here we are.
However, as you probably know as well as I do, working from home comes with its own host of advantages and disadvantages. Lines between work and life get blurred. The office is always accessible, and it’s challenging to find balance. But like any life change or intentional design, it takes iteration and discovering what works for you.
Today, I want to keep things personal and share my wonderful and difficult experiences working from home, along with several tips that have helped me live well each and every day. I hope they give you some great ideas to try…or inspire new ones!
The Delights of Working From Home
It’s safe to say that I’ve fully embraced the work-from-home lifestyle. I love the relaxed environment with few interruptions, which has allowed me to accomplish much more in a shorter amount of time each day. I even have the option of a slow morning, or I can wake up at 5 am and work for 3 hours before I shower and dress for the day. It’s so flexible and such a gift.
Speaking of flexibility, working from home means I can break up my workday with a yoga session or by going on a walk. Being at home has allowed me time to take the breaks I need without the constraints of having to be at the office. I’ve also been able to eat meals regularly, and they are healthier because I’m fixing them at home. Physically preparing my lunch is also a great break from sitting at my desk.
The last benefit I’ve seen is the economical and eco-friendly effect of working from home. It wasn’t until I didn’t have a commute that I realized how much time and driving a commute takes. In general, I drive my car much less and have lower overhead on expenses, which is a great feeling!
The Difficult Side of Working From Home
Of course, working solo from home isn’t always roses. Being alone all day can feel isolating (especially during Covid), and I have worked hard to find ways to enjoy being in the same space every day. It’s also difficult to spend so many hours at a desk or in front of a computer. The aches and pains of sitting are no joke.
I also absolutely miss having a design library to source from. I’ve always had a design studio with a sample library in the past, now I use online sourcing primarily and have samples mailed to me as needed. Without a design studio, I also miss having a space to hold client appointments, and I’ve had to search out alternatives (more on this later).
I’ve been lucky not to have this problem, but I know that finding a functional, private workspace at home can be a challenge depending on your home’s layout. You may have to get creative to find an unused corner for a quiet place to work. I’ve even heard of laundry rooms and closets being used as unique office locations!
7 Tips to Enhance Your Work From Home Life
1. Ensure proper posture. When I first started working from home, I would get a very sore neck and shoulders from being on the computer for so long. I’d recommend investing in an adjustable desk chair, keyboard tray, and laptop pedestal to ensure proper posture.
If you have a laptop, you could instead invest in a larger monitor and keep your work at eye level versus looking down into your laptop all day. This will save on chiropractic bills too!
2. Try a standing desk. You are likely to improve your productivity and overall wellness by investing in a standing desk. While standing all day isn’t recommended, it is healthy to vary your posture. I have some great recommendations through my Featured Maker of the month at the end of this post!
3. Local coworking spaces. I’ve started looking at local coworking spaces to get out of the house a couple of days a week. Coworking spaces have tons of offerings, including conference rooms with A/V equipment that can be used for professional presentations. This is the perfect place to host meetings with clients in addition to networking and interacting with other humans.
4. A well-lit space. For me, I’m most productive when my desk is facing a window. The light improves my mood and concentration significantly, and in general, natural light stimulates our physiological response to be awake. Facing a window is also great for Zoom meetings, though a ring light is a close second. If you find that a window-facing desk is distracting, I suggest looking for another spot that still has natural light but perhaps with a window beside or behind you.
5. Break up your day with physical activities. I’ve started booking a yoga class in the middle of the day, and it has helped me tremendously. Yoga or a walk is a great way to get me out of the house earlier in the day for some much needed movement. We could all use an energy boost mid-day, which is a great way to brighten your mood, increase productivity later, and remind yourself that you are more than your work. You’re a human who serves others best when you take care of yourself.
6. Separate your workspace. When your workday is over, close that door! After 5 pm, I don’t go into my office until the following day. If your office is in an unconventional location, you may have to get creative, but it’s worth finding a solution to keep it “out of sight, out of mind” and separate yourself from the constant reminder of work.
7. Connect with your peers. Community is so important to feeling a sense of belonging and connection. I have a bi-weekly scheduled Zoom call with a group of my peers to connect and share business experiences. If you don’t know where to find your tribe, try talking to people at coworking spaces, or attend local business associations events. Follow your interests and you’ll find the people who share them.
That’s it for now, but if you have any tips for working well from home, I would be delighted to hear them. And I’m confident that when you design a functional workspace at home and develop healthy routines, your work from home experience will be filled with joy, wellness, and a strong sense of fulfillment.
If you’re ready to turn your home office into a beautiful space that promotes productivity and wellness, you know where to find me. 😉
When I started to work from home, I found a comfortable wingback chair and pulled it up to my desk, thinking it would be great to sit in each day. Although it was slightly low for my desk, I added a toss cushion and thought it would be perfect. Well, a few months later, I started to get terrible neck and shoulder pain that wouldn’t go away. My chiropractor pinpointed it right away to the poor posture caused by my chair.
I searched for an alternative, and I found Human Home Ottawa.
I love their options for ground living desks and standing desks, and I’ve ordered a ground floor desk as an easy-to-store alternative to my regular desk. At the time of writing this, I’m still waiting to set it up, but I’m hoping it can help with my flexibility and neck hyperextension. I will report back and let you know!