Better At: Working from Home — 5 simple tricks to boost your mood and productivity

·3-min read

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The global pandemic brought with it a new way of working — from home! And that trend is predicted to continue. In a survey of CFOs by Gartner Inc, 74 percent of companies said they plan to have employees work remotely post-pandemic.

Working from home definitely has its benefits (PJs! comfy couches!). But it also brings a host of challenges, which is why we’ve gathered the best tips and tricks for making those days a little easier and whole lot more productive. Let's start with your environment, shall we?

Consider your surroundings

One key to a productive day? Keeping your home at a moderate temperature. A study by Cornell University found that temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit lead to more errors and lower productivity. So try and aim for a temperature between 68 to 77 degrees.

You’ll also want to go toward the natural light, which can boost mood and performance and help you get a good night's sleep — crucial for having sharp focus the next day. A study from the Ergonomics International Journal found that working in natural light can even reduce drowsiness by 56 percent. Translation: Move that desk next to the window.

Even better: Take your work outside and soak up all the benefits of the great outdoors. Dealing with multiple monitors? A portable monitor can help bring the two-screen experience anywhere.

Minimize distractions

Whether it's the neighbor's barking dog or the temptation of a glorious flat-screen TV just a few feet away, distractions are inevitable when working from home — leading to lost time throughout the day. A 2008 University of California report found that on average it took participants 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task after an interruption.

So how to stay focused? A great pair of noise canceling headphones can definitely help. Also helpful: turning off notifications and blocking time to check emails. This way, you won't be constantly distracted by incoming mail, leading to lots of wasted time.

Scheduling blocks of time for focused work can keep you on track throughout the day. (Photo: Getty Images)
Carving out time for focused work can keep you on track throughout the day. (Photo: Getty Images)

Schedule easy tasks for later in the day

Tap into your body’s natural rhythm to get the most out of your workday. Circadian rhythms vary from person to person, but most folks follow a similar pattern. In a nutshell: We are most awake and attentive just before noon, and we lose energy at the 3PM slump we all know too well.

So get the tasks that require the most brainpower done before lunch, and schedule mundane jobs for later in the day.

Perfect your posture

Nothing says WFH like a good ole backache. Ergonomics are key to proper posture, so take note: You should be seated 18 to 24 inches away from your monitor, with your line of sight at the top of the screen or just below. To ensure a just-right height, try a monitor riser.

To ease the aches and pains that come from sitting all day, opt for an acupressure mat — devotees say it can help with back pain and even headaches.

Take a break

Carve out time during the day to do anything but work. Research shows that taking breaks can actually improve your productivity. 

Sneak in some exercise, too — a Harvard study reports that moving your body can boost creativity, sharpen memory and improve concentration. So go ahead, schedule a sweat session for lunchtime. On days you're too busy, even walking down the block during a phone meeting will reap rewards. 

Ok, enough with all this reading...get back to work!

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