Work-life balance is difficult when home, office, and school occupy the same space, and long-term remote work isn’t working out like we thought it would. Every day can seem like a marathon and although technology can’t solve it all, it can help. Try these 10 tips while you’re working from home:
1. Cleverly designed calendar, reminder, and organization apps can help you stay on top of things.
Share your Google/IOS calendar with your partner. Review your daily agenda on your smart speaker. Add your Google, Microsoft, or iCloud calendars to Alexa. Google Home devices can also read you your schedule (if it’s on the Google Calendar associated with their linked account).
An alternative that doesn’t require email access is Calendly. A special Calendly link, which you can easily add to your email, allows people to schedule time on your calendar. Since the calendar is synced to your Google, Outlook, or iCloud account, you won’t get double booked. It even shifts different time zones!
2. Notice your video freezing or stuttering on calls?
Turning off HD video calling will use less data and reduce the strain on your network. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. have a setting for this. Need to use even less bandwidth? Turn off video or join via telephone.
3. How are your remote office ergonomics?
You may be feeling the pain (literally) of your setup. Switch between sitting at a desk and a standing desk; put your laptop at eye level with a stand, reams of papers, or even an empty box/tub. Invest in a good chair and even an exercise ball for some temporary relief during the day. Make sure your chair and desk are the correct height to avoid neck and shoulder pain.
4. Noise-cancelling headphones are the closest thing to a mute button for our homes.
Spotify/Tidal/Apple Music have a large selection of music, recreating office/coffee shop sound ambience. Need white noise? Try the Dohm White Noise machines for $30/$40. You can also try an app! (There are lots of free ones out there.)
5. Missing office chats outside your door or in the hallway?
Try Microsoft Teams; it keeps you connected with chats and video calls.
6. Is your video and sound poorly received?
Look and sound more professional with a better camera and microphone than what comes standard. Logitech makes the best webcams and Blue makes great microphones. Get a Bluetooth speaker that pairs with your laptop or smartphone for better quality.
7. Eyestrain is more prevalent, too! Try the 20-20-20 rule.
Every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Try enlarging fonts or turn on dark mode — white text on a black background. Newer iOS and Android devices have night mode or blue-light filter settings, or try an app like Flux, and use those settings at night.
8. How do you tell your family/roommates/etc. to quiet down when you’re on an important call?
Make a paper stoplight on your home office door, or hang it somewhere noticeable. (Of course, that doesn’t stop the dog from barking, but everybody has gotten used to those intrusions.)
9. Fix your email signature. How can people get in touch with you if you don’t have a VoIP phone?
Update your email signature with the best way to reach you via cell phone or chat services. Add to your signature: “Currently Working Remotely; Reach Me at (cell number) or MS teams (or another chat service).”
10. For personal things, auto-sort your shopping list.
It’s easy to add items to an Alexa or Google Home device shopping list, and to make additional lists, as needed.