Making the most of your home office

Thursday 4th April, 2024

As the editorial team of this website will tell you, I am a superb procrastinator. I hope I don't sound arrogant when I say that I would rank myself as easily in the elite echelons of stuff-putter-offers and the easily distracted.

It might be a Dyslexic thing, it might be a Jack Shannon thing, or maybe it's just because my house is filled with so much cool stuff (like spoon-carving equipment). But like with most people, there is always a temptation to let your mind wander. Since the pandemic, most of us have been thrust into the glamourous world of WFH and Hybrid Working. And with the exception of a few dinosaurs, most people are very keen on it. Days in the office are for teamwork, internal meetings, and building connections. Days at home are for solo work and hammering out the calls. And like most of us, I've got a pretty good handle on the whole WFH thing by now, and I like to think I use my time productively.

So, even if you've been WFH for a while now, there might be a couple of ideas here to help shake up how you're working at home to help you make the most from your time away from the office.

Spend the money on a good chair

Ask yourself this- if your chair at work was giving you back pain, or it was a safety issue- would you push to get a better one? Hopefully, the answer is "YES!". So why would you put up with something not fit for purpose at home? Assuming 2 days WFH per week, and let's be optimistic and say you take your full lunch hour to walk the dog or do pilates or whatever, you're spending 14 hours a week in this chair. Minimum. Or 658 hours a year. So it's worth investing in something that suits you. Also, it's in your home- so don't ignore aesthetics. if your chair looks ugly and out of place in a room, you'll swiftly grow to resent it.

Also, you've got one spine. Look after it.

Don't work in your bedroom

If you can, don't have your work area in your bedroom. Bedroom is for sleeping and relaxing. Not working. You need to be able to compartmentalise your home to be able to make the switch form "work mode" to "home mode" easier. If there is any ambiguity, your brain will err on the side of sleepy time. After all, your brain likes sleepy time. Sleepy time is good, sleepy time helps brain work. Brain is, at best, apathetic about quarterly reports.

To get around this, build yourself a little nook in the corner of your house as a dedicated office. Preferably on a different floor to your bedroom. It might only be going up and down the stairs, but that micro-commute will help to slip the switch in your brain from sleepy-snoozy to corporate-go-getter.

Get a plant

No, seriously! Get a plant for your desk/windowsill. You can even give it a name if you want. If like me, you're a people person, one of the hardest things about WFH is not having people around you. Weirdly, I find a plant helps with this. I'm not saying you should go full Cast Away and get yourself a Wilson volleyball, but a bit of company never hurt anyone. It also helps to keep you motivated- need to do a good job and set a good example, the plant is watching me.

Cacti are a safe bet, as they are basically impossible to kill. Or for the truly lazy, a terrarium. This is a self-enclosed ecosystem, so the whole point is NOT to touch it or interfere.

Also, a terrarium makes you feel a little bit like the God of your own tiny planet. But without the vengeful smiting.


Smart, formal shoes help your brain to stay in work mode. Even if no-one is going to see them during a Zoom call, just having them on can help you feel more professional and motivated. Also, because you're not doing the walk on the underground, you don't have to worry about trodden on toes or blisters. Likewise, at the end of the working day, take your shoes off. It helps to build that professional/private divide.

Don't eat at your desk

It's a good rule for the office-office, and it's a good rule for the home-office too. If you can, get out for a short walk at lunch, and eat at the dining table. Having a firm rule on no food at the desk will also cut back on type'n'chomp grazing. Instead, put aside 5 mins at a couple of points in the day, to grab a snack. While we're on the subject, a great way to make sure you're still getting your snack fix without going crazy is a subscription box. There are plenty of them out there, who deliver pre-portioned little pots of yummy stuff.

Finally, when you're WFH, enjoy it! No arguments about the AC, and you can feel free to buy the fancy coffee without having to share it. Bliss!

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