When I tell people I’m self-employed and work from home, the most common response is: “I’d love to do that, but I wouldn’t be able to focus”. I completely understand that, which is why I make myself turn on the computer by 8:30am – even if I don’t have a lot to do – and ensure I don’t encroach on my evenings or weekends with work.
I went self-employed last January and, as a relative newbie to home-working, I did have to learn a few things the hard way – so, I’ve compiled a list of things that make working from home a little easier.
Good coffee and a cafetière
When I still worked in an office, a person whom we creatively dubbed ‘the coffee man’ would visit once a day and sell us hot drinks at approximately £2.80 a cup. The coffee wasn’t even good, but it was better than freeze-dried office coffee and allowed us to stretch our legs for five minutes.
Just before starting my new role, I acquired a beautiful copper and glass cafetière and a bag of fresh coconut coffee, and I’ve never looked back. Look to local tea and coffee shops rather than supermarkets for really exciting flavours that they can usually grind up for you if you need it.
Planners and bullet journals
Planners and bullet journals are a brilliant way of tracking everything you do throughout the day and they not only make it more likely that you’ll get everything done, but they create a real sense of achievement at the end of the day. They’re also highly customisable, which creates an added layer of satisfaction. I favour an A4 planner with plenty of room for listing, which you can usually get some version of at Paperchase.
A work-only computer
I realise this is a little bit of a luxury – however, it’s at least a luxury you can log as an expense on your taxes. I used my old laptop for work, gaming and Netflix alike, but I always worried about having my livelihood all saved in the same place I played Stardew Valley for hours on end.
After an Amazon trawl I found a simple, quick, compact computer – an ASUS VivoBook NanoEdge laptop – that’s exclusively used for work and weighs considerably less than the old one. Plus, it’s stylish with a baby blue and white body and cost just shy of £200. It seemed like a small price to pay for the peace of mind of having one machine for work and one for play (although I am still guilty of using it to watch Vine compilations on my lunch break).
A sit-stand desk
Again, this is a bit of a luxury, but another worthy one. Sit-stand desks definitely live up to the hype; I had a constant niggling pain in my back when I first went self-employed and spent far too long moving from seat to seat, trying to find one that took away the strain. My Varidesk Pro Plus 36 desk simply sits on top of my existing desk and can be adjusted from sitting to standing just by pressing down on two flaps underneath.
Ideally, it would come a little higher for me (I suppose it’s not designed for the Over Six Foot Club) but that’s nothing an additional laptop stand to pop on top won’t fix. It also looks pretty swish; my ‘office’ is, realistically, more of a storage room, but the bright white Pro Plus 36 makes it look like a cool young professional works there.
Other ergonomics tools
Ergonomics are big business, especially for those of us that spend a lot of time at a desk. Foot rests, back rests, supportive seating, wrist rests and special mice to help workers avoid RSI are all useful tools to add to the home office – and all are things I’ll be gradually introducing to my workspace before any health issues can take root.
A big water bottle
The simplest tool, but among the most important! You’ve probably seen people with bottles that track how much you should be drinking by what time of day, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t have something similar in your home office space. It’s so easy to forget to drink, but keeping a big bottle nearby should help to keep hydration near the front of your mind. Maybe even add it to your to-do list…
Staying productive when working from home is all about having the right tools at your disposal, while also remembering to stay hydrated and take breaks.
What essentials help you when you work from home?