Tag Archives: work life balance

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

When you work for yourself, you can find that your work schedule frequently spills over into leisure time and before you know it, you’re sleeping less, feeling decidedly less relaxed and the more aligned work life balance that had been part of your original plan seems to have gone out of the window. Another potential hazard is headaches, which along with colds are reportedly the number one cause of absenteeism from work and when your work for yourself, sick days are a tricky topic to navigate. Headaches can be stress induced from overworking, brought on by lack of fresh air or may at least in part be due to an ill conceived desk set up, so how do you protect your health in your home office and is your home office giving you headaches?

Is Your Home Office Giving You Headaches?

Let there be light – in the right places
It’s very important to introduce natural light into a working space. Not only will this help you feel bright and more awake, it is also proven to aid a good sleep pattern and productivity. If your desk is nestled in the corner of another room away from a window, consider aiding flow of light with bifold doors. These from Vufold are available in both classic oak and more modern finishes to match your décor.

Whether you are positioned near a natural light source or need to rely on a desk or ceiling lamp, you’ll need to take steps to prevent glare on your computer screen, which can trigger headaches and migraines. Position it directly in front of you with the top at eye level and take time to set the brightness and contrast level to comfortable settings. Glare from light bulbs and windows can cause issues, so try and ensure they don’t shine directly on your screen. Along with careful positioning you may want to fit an anti-glare cover to your computer screen.

Find the right angle
It’s not just your computer screen that needs to be in just the right place, if you’re spending more than a few hours a time at your desk it’s recommended that you invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair. As well as supporting your lower back, you should be able to alter the height and position of your chair so that it comfortably supports you at the correct height to comfortably navigate your keyboard and mouse and type with your hands in line with your arms and wrists straight, this should stop nasty aches and pains developing. If you find that your feet are away from the floor when you’re at desk level, purchase a tilting foot support and resist the urge to cross your legs, it’s really not good for you!

Keep things fresh
Keeping a clean and tidy desk doesn’t just help you to find and do things quicker, it also minimises the amount of movement you need to make, which can help you avoid uncomfortable twisting and turning of your head and neck. Back pain is a common byproduct of working at desks and while regular massages can ease problems, it helps to take preventative measures too. Can you position items such as calendars and telephones within easy view and reach? You should also clean your keyboard and desk regularly – it’s estimated the average keyboard harbours over 7500 bacteria, which is not the kind of office party you want to be promoting.

Take a break
One of the best things you can do to protect your health and productivity is to take regular breaks. Try and step away from your screen for five to ten minutes every hour and think about getting some fresh air during your lunch break too. Staring and sitting for long periods can cause a host of problems with your back, legs and eyes. While it can feel like taking a break is slowing you down, spending a moment stretching or resting your eyes will keep you more comfortable, which could just help you finish that important project.

How is your home office set up? Do you wish you had more sunlight or a more comfortable desk or chair? Are you good at taking regular breaks or do you find yourself staring at your screen and typing for hours on end while you’re in the zone? Perhaps you’re planning a home office refurb to support your health goals?

If you have any tips for creating a healthy and comfortable work environment, please share them below.

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Maintaining a good work/life balance

As a Mum and a Freelancer (in that order) I often struggle to balance the two competing worlds. Like most Freelancers I find that in terms of work it’s either feast or famine, and as a Mum the responsibilities are constant, as is the guilt, but that goes with the territory, whatever I did I’d feel bad, it’s a no win situation.

As a Freelancer I work from home, which means that technically I’m around whenever my family need me. I can do the school run, I can be there when my son is poorly to care for him, I can take time out during the school holidays to spend time with him. I do all of that and more, but it does mean that I also have to put in long hours in the evenings, early in the mornings, or my weekends are spent slaving over a hot laptop while my 9 – 5 husband spends time with our son.

Whilst I can see the benefits of working *for* someone else, for me the benefits of being a Freelancer far outweigh that. Although the work and the hours I put in are never constant, I am able to be more flexible with my time. This means I can create and maintain a good work/life balance, or at least strive to.

My tips for creating and maintaining a good work/life balance are…

  • Protect some time for family, for me 5 – 7pm are family time, where we eat together, talk about our days, have bath-time, read stories and snuggle.
  • Go for a walk. Being stuck at my desk all day is miserable and not why I became a freelancer. Go for a walk round the park, get some fresh air and exercise and take a brain-break. You’ll be more productive after.
  • Accept help – enlist family and friends who don’t mind entertaining your child for a few hours occasionally. My son loves his Grandad and spending time with him is a special thing for them both.
  • Don’t try and multi-task. If you’ve got a few hours of family time, focus on the family.
  • Work smarter, not harder. If you’ve magically got a spare hour to spend working, you can accomplish a lot in that hour, set time limits for tasks and see what you can achieve.
  • Be organised, even if that’s not in your nature. To do lists, a filing system, record keeping however simple will save you time. Having my own workspace has really helped with this.
  • Go to work – some people get dressed for work, or have a pre-work morning routine. I get myself a drink and plonk myself at my desk and get cracking.
  • Family comes first – for me at least. If I need to stay up and work until 3am to catch up then so be it. My son is only young for a finite amount of time and he comes first. Always.
  • Make friends. Freelancing can be a lonely life. Find and nurture a group of like minded fellow freelancers around you, they will save your sanity and sometimes your bacon!

I have found that by having a small circle of freelancing friends they can offer me advice, practical support, contacts and the feeling of having colleagues; we even go on “work nights out”, which is nice. 

I’ve recently discovered Hiive. Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. Hiive is designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries and is an incredibly useful network for freelancers. I have joined and think it’s well worth a look and can help you to balance your work and home life.

I love freelancing, it’s changed my life and my family life for the better. It’s not easy, in fact it’s bloody hard work. Finding the right work life balance is a constantly shifting task. Having an understanding husband is half the battle, but the rewards in terms of quality family time are worth the late nights and early mornings. 

What are your tips for creating a good work-life balance?

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In association with Hiive.