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A telecommuter’s Christmas wish list

Christmas dachshunds

To the love of my life:

Our time apart is coming to a close. I’m divesting myself of all the extras, unnecessaries and somewhat broken stuff as we prepare to merge everything we own.

I’ve scanned the house and chosen the spot where I’ll set up my office. It’s a cute, little corner tucked away from your office, so we won’t cause each other unnecessary distractions. You know the kind where we listen to very different music? Your Top 40 just doesn’t mash up well with my classics from the 1980s.

We’ll tie notes to the dog’s collars and treat her like a carrier pigeon, instead of yelling across hallways and rooms. Or, we could — I suppose — go for the more modern approach and instant message each other.

In the meantime, I need some help getting all the right equipment for my little workspace.

Could you see that Santa gets this list?

1. A fancy new coffee cup

Since we both love Starbucks, it’s an easy choice. You could go with this extravagant Swarovski mug set, marking the company’s 30th anniversary, or the more sensible Heritage 1971 Pike Place set. I’ll leave the choice up to you.

2. Greenery

Did you know Exeter University’s Dr. Chris Knight spent 10 years studying employee happiness and found workers are 15 per cent more productive when their offices have a few houseplants?

desk plants

“If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged, you are happier and you work better,” Knight said.

(Photographs, aromas and better lighting can achieve a similar effect, he noted, but I have lots of pictures of us already.)

3. A good headset

My old one broke and I’ve been improvising. It sucks.

4. A back cushion

Lumbar support and ergonomics aren’t new. It’s no secret that ergonomic working conditions:

✓ Reduce injury and illness
✓ Improve productivity and quality of work
✓ Reduce absenteeism

A more productive me makes more money in the freelance writing world, right? How can that be wrong?

I don’t want us to go all out and get me a new desk and chair, so I’ll take a good cushion for my lower back.

5. A cool desk lamp

The better the lighting, the more work I’m going to get done. Check out this cool vintage desk lamp:

vintage desk lamp

6. A new pair of yoga pants

We both love to stay comfortable. Let’s get each other some new sweats and yoga pants.

7. A bag of supply goodies

Look, you know I’m all about the modern world and I love my technology. But, as a writer, I like to kick it old school a lot of the time. A trip to Staples or Office Depot would fetch you some time under the mistletoe if you came back with some funky-covered notepads and some gel-ink pens.


I’m not asking for too much, am I? And what about our office party?

Tips & Resources Tagged , |By amacisaac on Comments

Telecommuting: You deserve a break today

Most days, I need a little pick-me-up.

It’s better than a nap.

It’s better than coffee.

It’s exercise.

telecommuter exerciseSome days I run; others, I hit the bicycle. Consistently, I try to lift weights to challenge my muscles.

A recent study from Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom shows I’m also boosting my productivity.

The study’s authors, according to, looked at the influence of exercise during business hours among workers who had access to a company gym.

The more than 200 employees at various companies filed daily self-reports on their exercise levels and performance levels. The researchers also compared productivity levels on days the employees exercised and days they didn’t.

“The study’s authors found that on days when participants hit the gym, they reported managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having more cheerful interactions with colleagues,” reported.

Productivity and telecommuters

Telecommuters fight against the myth of laziness and low productivity. Research shows remote workers are often more productive than their in-office colleagues.

They get to work without a stressful commute. They don’t battle the in-office distractions of chatter and cubicle visits. They work harder to combat this myth. And they often forget to watch the clock and punch out at 5 p.m.

Maybe that makes us workaholics.

It means we have to take care of ourselves, too. But we don’t have the luxury of a company gym or a great fitness facility just down the block … especially if we’re living in suburbia.

We have to be creative, and that isn’t easy for a runner who battles Canadian winters.

Not everyone wants to invest in big, expensive equipment like treadmills either.

So how do you get moving? Here’s how I jolt my body and recharge my brain:

Bodyweight workouts
✓ Invest in an inexpensive indoor rack for your road bike

indoor bike rack✓ Yoga
✓ Build a collection of dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls
✓ Play some music and dance with the dog (I close the blinds so the neighbours won’t think I’m totally nuts)
✓ Walk the dog (she’ll appreciate it more than your living-room boogie)

dog walkingEven a 10-minute dance and stretch break can be enough to get my writing fingers tip-tap-tapping across the keyboard again.

It beats waiting for equipment at the gym, freezing my buns off on a winter run or just sitting around the house waiting for the to-do list to to-do itself.

What breaks up your day?

Tips & Resources Tagged , |By amacisaac on Comments
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