Working from home is great. My commute is across the hall not across town. I don’t have to shovel the driveway first thing if I don’t have plans to go anywhere. Heck, there are days I don’t have to leave the house at all.
What’s the down side? There are days I don’t have to leave the house at all. If I get engrossed in a major project I can become a hermit. A couple of times I found I hadn’t left the house at all in two days. That’s just wrong.
But even on normal days, because I work from home I don’t get as much activity as someone who has to leave home to work. I don’t have to shovel the driveway and scrape the car before work. There’s no walk to work, even if it’s just from the parking lot to the office.
My house isn’t that big so if I get up to use the washroom or get a drink of water, I just don’t have to go that far. And consulting with colleagues means picking up the phone or whipping off an email. There’s no getting up and wandering over to the next office.
I belong to a gym and try to keep fit that way, but I’ve realized I’m just not doing enough. The past two weeks we’ve had some really bad weather so I’ve missed a few regular workouts because of road closures. And my baby boomer body is starting to complain. There are aches and pains where there weren’t any before.
And that’s not all. When you work in an office and need a break you can wonder over to the water cooler or a co-worker’s desk for a little chat. It gets you away from your computer, away from your desk. It doesn’t seem like much, but that regular moving and changing of position makes a big difference for a middle aged body. Too often I find I’ve been sitting at my desk for three or four hours without moving at all.
What do I do when I need a short break? I hate to confess it, but I play computer hearts. And besides keeping me glued to the computer, it has another bad side effect. I’ve discovered that when I play computer games, all sense of ergonomics goes out the window.
Instead of sitting up in my expensive desk chair and keeping my body properly aligned, I lean on the arm of the chair – with my mouse arm – cross my legs and basically turn myself into a pretzel.
The result: repetitive strain injury. My shoulders and neck are aching. My forearm hurts too. And my hand just screams when I type. And forget using the mouse. In the past two weeks I’ve spent more time with my chiropractor than with my friends. It’s been costly from a financial and a productivity standpoint.
It’s time to make some changes.
1. No more computer games! It’s not like they’re that much fun anyway. I’m not a teenaged boy. If I need a short mental break I will read some other blogs, get up and walk to the kitchen for a drink, or go and read the newspaper for ten minutes. Anything to give my arm and shoulder a break.
2. Ergonomics rule. No more leaning on my mouse arm. No more pretzel positions. When I’m at my desk, I will sit properly.
3. I will get out of the house every day. Even if it’s just to walk around the block or to shovel the driveway, I will get out, move, and see the sun like a normal person.
4. I’m going to add one extra fitness day during the week. This will get me moving more. And if I do have to miss a day due to outside circumstances, I’m already doing more so it won’t matter as much.
5. Stretching. During the day I will add a couple of arm and shoulder stretches every hour or so. Last night I even dusted off my yoga matt and did some stretching and abdominal exercises while watching tv. It didn’t add any time to my day because I was multitasking.
These are minor changes, but I’m hope they’ll have a big impact on my physical well being. This little episode scared me. I can’t afford to lose my ability to work at the computer so I need to protect myself and my livelihood.
If you have anything you do to keep healthy and safe while working from home, please share with us by adding a comment below.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Don Miller over at the Making Sales Making Money blog proposed a Home Based Business Group Writing Project: a bunch of home based business bloggers writing about working from home. If you want to see more of what others wrote, visit Don’s blog.