[Updated 24 January 2021]
With many of us staying home and continue to fight the pandemic, we also have to get used to working from home. For those who are new to this type of working condition, working from home can be pretty great. After all, you don’t have to deal with a long (or stressful) daily commute, plus you have more breathing room to do your own thing without a superior or co-worker looking over your shoulder ?
But that’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and rainbows! While working from home can be wonderful, it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. Chief among them is overworking - mostly because when your work life and home life are under one roof, it’s hard to switch off your ‘work mode’. So if you find yourself stuck in front of your desk all day, here’s a list of 10 things that you should definitely be doing in order to help maintain your health and keep productive ?
1. Take a break
While it might sound counterproductive, forcing yourself to take a break and walk away from your desk for longer than the duration of a bathroom break is absolutely necessary when you’re working from home. This is to help keep you from overworking and taxing yourself too much mentally. After all, when you’re working from home, it’s all too easy to fall into the mindset that you don’t need a break.
You’re at home instead of the office. That pretty much constitutes a ‘break’ in itself, right?
That’s where you’d be wrong. The fact of the matter is, taking a break actually helps to improve your focus and productivity. From a short walk around the garden, a power nap, prayer break or even just taking some time to stretch, getting up and away from your desk does wonders for your mental health. So, really, you can’t afford NOT to take breaks. But if you don’t trust yourself to take an appropriate number of breaks, you can always schedule them into your day; just so that you’ll be able to see how you’re making use of your time.
2. Remember to blink
Um… what? ?
Yes, we’re aware that people (and all animals for that matter) blink automatically. But it turns out, when you’re at your desk and staring at a computer screen all day, you tend to blink about a third as much than usual - which is the common cause of dry, tired and strained eyes. The act of blinking may seem inconsequential, but there’s plenty of benefits from this simple action.
Blinking helps cleans your eyes from foreign objects and provides them with much-needed lubrication via protein-rich tears (pretty wild, right?). So if you’re stuck in front of the screen, do make a concerted effort to blink more often and eventually you won’t have to think about it. Also, try to follow the 20-20-20 rule for looking at a screen. That means every 20 minutes gaze at a point 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds ?
3. Use blue light blocking glasses
Even with breaks in between, you’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. For those people who are prone to headaches, eye tiredness and eye strains because of it, you’ may want to try using blue light blocking glasses to combat these issues.
Digital screens (like computer and smartphone screens) emit a blue light that stimulates the production of cortisol; which is a major stress and alerting hormone that interferes with sleep. While exposure to this light is not obviously harmful, our constant exposure to digital screens can disrupt our sleep cycle - leading us to feel more tired and therefore more susceptible to tension headaches, eye strain and recurring eye twitches. By using blue light blocking glasses, you can help to minimise all these effects - a boon, especially if you’re going to be spending more than 8 hours facing the screen!
Note: Blue light blocking glasses may be a helpful tool, but it's not a cure-all for everyone! The most ideal practice is to minimise your exposure to digital devices, especially in the time leading up to when to go to bed.
4. Stand while you work
Sick of staying seated all the time? Why not stand as you work instead. Standing burns 30% more calories than sitting down; plus, it’s a great way to improve your health and lowers the risk of obesity (as well as a host of other health-related issues - like diabetes, back problems and heart failure).
It’s super easy to get started too! For example, when you need to make calls or teleconference with your team remotely, instead of sitting down, why not stand or pace around as you’re talking on the phone. Better yet, why not set up your workspace to include a standing desk ?
There’s plenty of ways to create a makeshift standing desk at home; from using a shelf of your bookcase to raising your current desk by adding something below the feet. Don't forget to alternate sitting, standing and moving as it can help to elevate the strains placed on your body ?
5. Increase Your Font-Size
Another computer tip that will help take away the strain from your eyes is to increase your computer’s font size. In general, the larger the font size, the easier it is to read whatever it is on your computer screen. This may seem pretty obvious, but plenty of us are guilty of squinting at the screen (and giving ourselves a self-inflicted headache) instead of just increasing the font size - mostly because a bigger font just seems ‘weird’ and takes some time to get used to ?
While it may be strange at first, increasing the font size of your computer has plenty of other benefits besides saving yourself from eye-strain and headaches; such as faster reading and greater comprehension of the text on the screen at first glance ?
6. Watch your posture
If you’re reading this from your desk right now, release your shoulders from your ears, unclench your jaw, and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Feel better? Good! Not to sound like your mother, but when you’re sitting at a desk all day, it’s imperative that you watch your posture as sitting in a bad position for long periods of time can cause not just back pains, but neck pains as well.
If you’re going to be sitting at your desk all day, be sure to set up your workspace so that your monitor is level with your eyes (which makes it easier for you to sit straight and not strain your neck). Additionally, invest in a good, comfortable and adjustable chair. Be sure that the height of the chair allows for you to sit with your shoulders pulled back and relax so that you’ll be able to sit without slouching.
You’ll soon notice that all these little adjustments to help you maintain a good posture while sitting at your desk will make a ton of difference (especially when your neck stops killing you at the end of the day ?).
7. Work out at your desk
If you’re feeling fidgety from sitting down for too long, why not try working out at your desk? You don’t have to do anything too strenuous - like whipping out a set of dumbells or heading to your home gym for a run on the treadmill (well, you can if you really wanted! See here: 8 Easy Way to Keep Fit And Healthy Even When You’re Indoors); but if you’re not scheduled for a break just yet, try doing some simple, discreet exercises; like desk yoga - which involves some neck rotations, shoulder shrugs and satisfying back twists.
If you have a little bit more privacy, you can also opt for more challengings desk exercises, such as doing desk push-ups, chair squats and wall sits. Plus: A good majority of desk exercises require zero equipment to help get your blood pumping so get ready for a much-needed endorphin rush!
8. Recite duas
All things start with the worship of Allah, so do squeeze in some awesome duas into your day to ensure that you have an amazing rest of the year ?
As narrated by the Prophet PBUH:
“There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it up above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.’” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
The beauty of duas is that they can be recited anywhere at any time. Having to work from home affords you the unique opportunity of being able to recite duas straight from your desk. Not only will reciting dua help keep you mindful, but it is also a good way to reap mountains of reward ?
9. Practice dhikr
Like duas, dhikr can be easily done anywhere and at any time. During a lull in work, instead of letting the moment pass by just like that, why not seek Barakah (divine blessing) by remembering the Creator with Dhikr ?
“O You who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance”[33:41].
Additionally, it’s prudent that we increase dhikr whenever we can- even when we’re working at our desk- as it removes the worries and sadness from one’s heart. Below is an example of one of the easiest dhikr that you can incorporate into your day:
"Whoever says, 'Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,' one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.” As narrated by Abu Huraira [Bukhari].
10. Plan your day around prayer times
Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam and a lot of the time in the office, it can feel a little awkward at times when you need to leave to pray mid-way through a meeting. An unexpected (but much welcomed) boon when it comes to being stuck at home during the current circumstance is that you can now plan your day around obligatory prayer times!
These natural scheduled prayer breaks are an excellent way to bring yourself closer to Allah while simultaneously keeping yourself feeling refreshed and ready for work ?
From taking breaks and simple tech hacks to indoor workouts and a gentle nudge to remember the Creator, there is plenty for you to do at home despite being stuck at your desk all day. All you need to do is stay creative and make the most of your current situation ?