Work From Your Connected Home: Week 1
Here at Smarthome, we understand that many of you are adjusting to working from home. We’re doing the same and doing our part as COVID-19 plays out. The landscape of remote working is unfamiliar for many of you so we’re here to help. Perhaps you already have a basic smart home ecosystem in place? If so, there are many ways you can harness your tech to help you work more effectively from home. Maybe you haven’t yet experimented with home automation? Well, there’s no better time to start. Each Monday over the coming month, we’ll bring you 5 actionable tips to help you work from home without losing your focus or eating into your free time. While we’ll mainly focus on tech-related tips, we’ll also be sharing some general productivity hacks.

Work From Home Hacks Week 1

  1. Set up a dedicated smart workspace
  2. Control entry with a video doorbell
  3. Create do not disturb zones with color-coded lighting
  4. Use the timers on your smart display to establish structure
  5. Minimize distractions with online tools

1) Set up a dedicated smart workspace

If you’re currently trying to work from home, you’ll need a dedicated workspace even if you don’t have a smart home office. This is the perfect opportunity to create a distraction-free environment so you can get more done in less time.
  • Make sure your chair is upright or very slightly reclined. You should be aiming for a neutral posture so you’re neither bending nor thrusting forward. You want your back relaxed but still supported
  • Use a laptop stand so the top of your screen is at eye level or just below. If you don’t have a stand, use reams of paper or phone books instead
  • Use an external keyboard and mouse at or below elbow height
  • Add a smart plug to your desk lamp so you can streamline control while enjoying the task lighting you need for focused work
  • Ensure that WiFi signal is strong enough for your needs. If you’re looking to start working from home more often and you have flat spots or patchy signal, consider a mesh WiFi network. With small nodes hosing signal to all corners of your home, you’ll be free to video call and download seamlessly
Remember: Even if you have the ergonomic set-up above, take frequent breaks every 30 minutes or so. You need to rest your eyes and stretch your legs so don’t skip this.

2) Control entry from your laptop with a video doorbell

If you’re working from home in a busy household, you should minimize distraction wherever possible. Do you have a video doorbell? If so, you can take control remotely from your laptop so you’re not constantly reaching for your smartphone. With Ring or Google Nest smart doorbells, for example, just download the app on your laptop as well as your phone. With Ring Video Doorbells, if you’re working some distance from the door, consider the Ring Chime Pro WiFi Extender. This will boost your network signal and ensure you never miss a visitor even if you’re engrossed in an intensive project. We touched on the idea of a distraction-free zone but how about if you really need some privacy?

3) Create do not disturb zones with color-coded lighting

If you have a video call with clients or you need to focus on a complex spreadsheet, how can you ensure nobody disturbs you? Save reaching for the Post-Its and make a game of things with your kids. Show them that when the lights are a certain color, you’re not to be disturbed. Walk them through how to create scenes like this in-app and school them on some home automation at the same time. You can achieve this with a color-changing smart bulb. Take advantage of an Echo device or Google Home smart speaker and you can activate Do Not Disturb mode hands-free.

4) Use the timers on your smart display to establish structure

While smart speakers can be useful for hand-free control and help organizing your day working from home, a smart display is even better. If you have an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub, use the on-screen timers to create some structure in your day. Think about a typical day at the office. From meetings to chatting with co-workers, from bathroom breaks to lunch breaks, you’ll seldom be anchored in one place for too long. Don’t fall into the trap at home of working for long and unbroken periods. You need to rest your eyes and stretch your legs. Consider using the Pomodoro Technique. This simple but highly-effective time-management technique goes as follows:
  • Set a countdown timer on your smart display for 25 minutes
  • Focus on a single task until the timer rings
  • Take a short break
  • After 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break
  • Repeat
Feel free to alter the time periods to suit but don’t work for more than 45 minutes without taking at least a very short break. If you’re working on a task and something else comes into your mind, write this on a sheet of paper and deal with it later. This will help to keep you focused. You could also use timers on your smart display to remind you to stay hydrated if you struggle to drink enough water.

5) Minimize distractions with online tools

Working online can be remarkably distracting, especially if you’re not in the office and nobody will raise an eyebrow if you lose yourself down a Reddit rabbit hole for hours. Add a simple toolbar extension to block websites that suck your time. Set limits and stay on track then make use of your favorite sites when you’re taking a break. Don’t open social media accounts or unnecessary communication apps when you’re in work mode. Avoid constantly checking your personal email. Check out Simpleology to help you get more things done in less time with fewer distractions and more purpose.

Final Word

Well, our aim today was to help you settle into a new routine working from home. The more you become accustomed to this, the more readily you can make use of more advanced productivity tips. So, we’ll be checking in weekly to dive deeper into getting more done at home with less effort. Don’t forget to bookmark our blog before you leave. We’re hard at work producing more impartial product reviews, handy guides and reporting on all the latest smart home news to keep you entertained. If you haven’t yet started automating your home, why not sign up for our email newsletter? You can immerse yourself in the basics of home automation. Then, when you’re ready to invest in your connected home, we’ll give you 20% off your first order.

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