According to The Wall Street Journal, working at home–particularly in bed–is on the rise. Whether it is because more people are working with clients and fellow employees abroad (and therefore in other timezones) or because there is simply more work to do, thus making it necessary to work as many hours as possible, it seems that lots of us are turning our beds into workplaces and our pillows into chairs.
Doing just a couple hours of work in the early morning or late at night while propped up is common, and when you factor in the added distractions of Facebook, Twitter, news sources, humor sites and all the other Internet side shows, those couple hours can turn into a long while of hunching over a glowing computer screen. Unfortunately, this is pretty terrible for your overall health. Staring at a bright screen while in unnatural positions can hurt your posture, eyes and sleep, among other things.
Fortunately, there are some tools and tricks to keep working at home from harming your health too much.
1. Gives your eyes a break. Staring at a bright screen, especially when the rest of your room is too dark or too bright, is never good. Focusing your eyes too much for too long can cause serious eye strain, leading to headaches and possible work errors. Every fifteen or thirty minutes, look away for a minute or so in order give them a rest. Also, make sure you adjust your text size so you won’t wind up squinting.
2. Make your primary home workplace outside the bedroom. If you have to work from bed sometimes, then do so–but the key word there is sometimes. Mixing your sleep space with your work space confuses your instincts. You know how when you lie down, your body knows it should get tired? Keeping your mind awake while laying down fights your natural desire to sleep when in that position.
3. Use a proper laptop holder. When you place a laptop on your actual lap, especially when you’ve got a big, thick blanket covering you, the machinery’s heat output can’t circulate. As the heat builds, it gets extremely warm in your lap, leading to possible damage of your computer as well as irritation on your skin. Try checking out Amazon for one–maybe it’d be a good holiday gift idea for the laptop bed-worker in your life!
4. Unplug an hour before bedtime. It can be tempting to work up until the last minute before sleep, but think about it: if it negatively affects your rest, you won’t be as productive tomorrow, thereby making it fall under the category of “not worth it.” By literally powering down your screens, you’ll be giving your brain a chance to chill out before it needs to figuratively power down. And waking up feeling great is one of the best ways to get stuff really done the next day.
5. Practice better posture. Don’t hunch over–make sure your monitor is eye-level to prevent getting a bent back. Keep it at a distance so your wrists are straight to prevent strain. If possible, get the type of bed that will support you.
Photo: Flickr user jonas.lowgren