When we think of working from home and being self-employed, we often think of the flexibility of hours, being able to pick the kids up from school and attending networking meetings, but what we often forget is the little things like looking after ourselves in terms of our own health and wellbeing.
It’s great that you can start a business as a virtual assistant with just a laptop, but are we really taking care of ourselves if we do this? Is working from bed with the laptop on our knees, on the kitchen table or in front of the TV, really a good thing to do?
When I started my business in October 2015, I set up my laptop in the dining room, plugged in and off I went, but before long, I was experiencing soreness in my back and shoulders, stiffness in my neck and pain in my wrists. The wooden chairs were too low when using a laptop on the dining table – and they gave me a numb bum after a while! Eager to progress my business from the start, I also didn’t take enough regular breaks, that’s one thing I promised myself when I started my own business.
It took a little while to realize while working at an office the display screen equipment assessments, regular eye tests and running around after my bosses really helped me keep myself in good condition when working all day at a computer, and getting up and down making all those cups of tea gave me a break from the screen and kept me mobile. Working from home and keen to keep pushing the business forwards, I barely moved from my seat and I owed it to myself to look after my body better than that!
So what did I do differently?
- I started using a wireless keyboard and mouse with my laptop instead of the touchpad – this soon sorted out the soreness in my wrists and thumbs;
- I also moved into another room which I set up as an office and went down to the local office furniture recycling centre to get myself a proper adjustable office chair to ensure my back had the right support and I wasn’t reaching up to the keyboard like I had been at the dining table – shoulder pain? Gone!
- I used a tool on the Health & Safety Executive website to do my own Display Screen Equipment Workstation Assessment, making changes to the positioning of the equipment on the desk (although my screen is at the right height now, it’s lifted up by board games until my budget allows me to buy a riser!)
- I installed Eye Leo to remind me to take regular breaks and to look after my eyesight!
- Whilst I barely spend any time on the phone, I do have a headset so I don’t get a crooked neck if a call goes on longer than expected.
I now don’t have any back, neck or shoulder pain and take more regular breaks.
It is easy to start working from home as a virtual assistant at little or no cost, but I do urge you to look at how you are working and whether you are looking after yourself, as you want to keep yourself fit and well to keep helping those clients.
How do you look after yourself when working from home? How is your workspace set up?
Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance provides PA, Event & Meeting and Business Support to executives and companies. To get in touch with Joanne, click here!
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