How to sort your work/play shit out

Switching from work to play when you’re at home can be a tricky task to navigate — especially when your brain may already be feeling very muddled. Here’s how you signal to your brain that you’re in work mode.

WORDS Bea Taylor

home office

Now that WFH is the new normal for many, we’re realising the little things like banter from workmates, ambient office noises and even the daily commute are major stakeholders in helping us switch from home mode into work mode.

Home office set-up

The first thing to tackle is your WFH set-up. Creating a dedicated work zone will help you separate work life from personal life. If it’s possible, keep that zone out of your bedroom — there’s nothing more tempting during a difficult (work) day than a comfy bed mere metres away. Instead, find a corner in your living area. Or, ideally, a separate room altogether if you have the luxury.

Now it’s time to think ergonomics. Your home office needs to be practical and encourage productivity. One of the key players in this set-up is the almighty office chair. First and foremost, this should be comfortable with suitable back support in spades. Make sure it sits high enough so your arms, when resting on your desk, are roughly at right angles or pointing slightly downwards. A desktop is ergonomically preferable to a laptop, but the set-up remains the same; the top of the screen should hit eye level and a keyboard and mouse are musts. Do. Not. Take. This. Advice. Lightly.

Lighting, also crucial. Any form of natural light you can take advantage of is something to chalk up as #winning. Positioning your desk under a window will give you a bright outlook and make doing work feel less like an arduous task.

Remove distractions

While it’s a positive that you can now freely watch YouTube videos on your computer without worrying about having to hastily hit ‘ctrl t’/‘command h’ when your boss walks past, unfortunately it’s not a positive for your productivity. Without external pressure to focus, it falls on you to manage yourself.

If your phone isn’t essential to your work, say ciao and leave it in a different room. And, if possible, face your desk away from the pantry or fridge — out of sight, out of mind. Right?

Keep your desk clean

A cluttered space can encourage mental clutter. But that’s not the only reason to embrace your inner Marie Kondo. If your home office is set up in a shared living space, the last thing your fellow bubblers want to see is a Steve Jobs of a desk situation.

Structure your day

It might be tempting to sleep in but try to leave that for the weekends. A change in routine will help separate work from play and setting your body clock to the same routine during the week will stop you from feeling like shit.

It’s also important to take regular breaks during the day, leaving your desk each time. And if you’re struggling to switch off, take a lap around the block and ‘arrive home from work’.

Be presentable

Would you go into the office in the clothes you just rolled out of bed in (go and see someone if your answer is ’yes’, btw)? By no means are we suggesting slapping on a full face of make-up and tottering around in heels but making yourself somewhat presentable will help you feel ready to tackle the day, and will make changing into loungewear at the end of the day the thing that helps you switch off. General rule of thumb; judge your clothing suitability on whether it would be appropriate for a Zoom work call.

Keep the comms up

Regular communication with those fellow bubblers is just as important as keeping in contact with your team — you don’t want someone walking behind your morning meeting Zoom call in their tighty-whities.

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