A year of working from home happened one day at a time. At the outset many of us were using makeshift offices and sitting in kitchen chairs that weren’t intended to be full-time home office setups.
But as the weeks and months wore on, and as our new reality became clear, we looked to evolve our at-home workspaces and routines. And for many of us, that all starts with the chair we sit in.
DO YOU HAVE ANY GOOD WORK FROM HOME HACKS TO SHARE? AND WHAT’S YOUR CHAIR SITUATION LIKE?
Uh-no. My setup is very basic. I don’t even use a second monitor. I don’t even have a mouse. I design everything with touchpad. I sit like hunched over in my chair. My workspace hack is to get a good chair.
I actually got a new chair recently. I dropped like a decent amount of money on a nice chair cause I realized I was starting to experience back pain cause I don’t stand up at all during the day. So I figured if I’m going to sit all day, like twelve hours a day every day I should probably invest in a good chair so I don’t have awful back pain later in life. So, I got a decent chair.
I was able to grab the desk topper standing desk thing from the office back in September when we were allowed to go in every now and then and that’s been a nice addition. Not only does it allow for standing up but it has a little shelf thing to it so it adds six inches on my desk.
My chair could probably use an upgrade. I got an IKEA chair a few years ago from their built but slightly faulty furniture room where it’s like a quarter of the price. So it does well enough—it has one bum wheel but at this point I’ve gone through a year sitting in it so I don’t feel the need to change it.
I didn’t rig anything crazy up. I have a monitor that I bought at the beginning. A 27-inch Dell ultra-high def monitor that I purchased at the beginning of the pandemic knowing that I’d be working from home for a while. And that has been great. I haven’t had to borrow one from the office or anything like that.
The biggest thing was a good chair. So I have a Herman Miller chair here. I was seeing doctors multiple times because of my back issues at the beginning of the pandemic and it turned out that a lot of that was stemming from the fact that I was sitting in a kitchen chair working on my computer at a kitchen table that was not ergonomically correct. It was too high off the ground and too high above my knees.
It’s a hand-me-down. I would highly recommend them.
My desk is right by a window which is pretty nice.
My chair situation, is great. Herman Miller. I know a guy. It fell off the back of a truck.
I do feel like I have a very good office setup. Bringing a second monitor home from the office right out of the gate was the right choice.
I got a chair for Christmas from my parents. I finally had to admit that I would be sitting in this chair for a long time. I had been sitting in a wooden IKEA kitchen table chair from like 15 years ago up to that point, and I was wondering why my back was wrecked and I was super sore everyday and my parents were like “it’s cause you’re sitting in a pile of garbage,” and I was like “good point,” so I let them get me a chair and it is a huge upgrade. I should have done that a lot sooner.
I use an old TV as a monitor. Like a 2009, 25 inch flat screen. It works. It was super challenging going from two screens to one screen.
As far as chairs go, I’ve got a good one. My parents’ office, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, they were getting rid of all the stuff, so we took two of them. So we’ve always had two of them and I’ve always had one wherever I’ve moved. It was something I never really thought about and then someone brought up that they have a bad chair and I was like, “oh that’s brutal.”
I try to get off of my meetings five minutes before the hour so I can just get up and move. If you do that every two hours, you’re moving for ten minutes every two hours. That’s a good way to make sure you don’t get stiff and you don’t get tired and back achy and stuff.
And we have an old rolling office chair that I pulled into the extra bedroom. I have a broken adjustable height desk so it doesn’t actually adjust height but I have the same amount of space that I did in the office.
A couple things—my bears in my background which is kind of a signature. These (holds up easel pads), there’s nothing like writing on a whiteboard though.
My Aeron is downstairs. But I took this chair I’m using from the office. I forget which one. My chair situation was pretty bad before.
Yeah, actually I just realized this the other day but facing a window has helped me a lot. I moved during the midst of this pandemic and at the first house we were at I faced a wall and I couldn’t see anything that was going on in the world.
I do have a good chair now. I was sitting on a broken computer chair for a really long time and when I would lean back it would pop out and I’d have to catch myself every time. Finally invested in a better one with a real cushion seat, so as of a few months ago I no longer fall off my chair.
Not really. I like to work in different locations throughout the day. For my office setup I got a nice chair, but other times I’m sitting on a kitchen chair or a couch or something.
My office at home is definitely more ideal than my desk in the office because I can control the light that gets in so there’s no glare. As an editor protecting your eyes is so important for longevity.
My chair situation is good. You gotta have a good chair. A good chair sets you up.
HAVE YOU PICKED UP ANY HOBBIES AS A RESULT OF WORKING REMOTELY THIS PAST YEAR?
Yes. A big one has been punch needle. And now I want to get into making rugs. I’ve made small pieces but I want to make an actual floor rug—like an area rug—so I gotta still build that frame and finally buy the latch-hook gun, basically a tufting gun they call it.
Taking care of the plants. Jumped on the day trading bandwagon right before quarantine started so there’s that.
Over the summer I started a container garden on the porch. But in the winter that wasn’t going to work due to the cold so I got two Ikea shelves, like six feet tall, with two shelves on them. So I have a bunch of containers on one shelf of it and some grow lights, and then the shelf below that I have two 25-gallon hydroponic tanks with more grow lights.
A lot of stuff has died [over the winter] but I’m on the second or third generation of basil and pepper plants I started with.
I started playing chess last year when chess was really big on the internet. I’m really bad at it but I think it’s mostly because of paradox of choice—cause I’m really good at card games like poker and stuff.
So instead I’ve transitioned over to Mahjong, so I play a lot of Mahjong now in my free time. There’s an app for it but you can also play it as mini games in larger video games.
ARE YOU RANKED?
Honestly, I don’t think anyone’s going to know anything about Mahjong that’s reading this. No one knows anything about Mahjong other than my friend Alex who lived in China for a little bit. But no, I’m a beginner—like an intermediate beginner.
What are my hobbies? Earlier on with the extra disposal income I got a little aggressive trying to hunt down rare shoe releases. Sneaker drops. So like, because I wasn’t going out and spending X-amount of money at the bars every weekend I got a little aggressive with spending in the footwear department.
For a while I was getting a new pair of sneakers maybe once a month, also trying to distract myself from the fact that the world was falling apart. But we’ve moved on from that phase. They’re great. They sit on the shelf behind me and I never wear them. They’re all too nice to wear.
I’m actually barefoot right now. My feet are freezing. I’m just too lazy to put socks on.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PAIR?
Off-white Jordan IV in my size. It’s actually a 14.5 women’s.
Collecting sports cards. There’s a whole market out there, it’s wild. We went to an Estate sale recently and that was a lot of fun. The man was a collector and he was looking to downsize so we bought a few boxes of cards. There was some really cool stuff in there! We also have been going on EBay and buying sealed boxes from the late 80’s, early 90’s and opening them and seeing what we can pull. We pulled a couple Michael Jordans, Scottie Pippens, Larry Birds—stuff like that.
WHAT’S IT LIKE GOING TO AN ESTATE SALE DURING A PANDEMIC?
It was really structured. They were only allowed to have a certain amount of people in the building. We had a mission so we were in and out.
I did get more reading in last year. That was one of my New Years resolutions. Then, once I was stuck in the same 1,900 square feet with the same three people every day for months and months, I made it a priority to set aside time to read, alone, at the end of the day.
Hobbies, no. I lost a hobby. I used to do stand up every night and now I don’t do it at all so that’s weird. I think that’s really why I was feeling trapped because I never spent time in my house at all unless I was sleeping.
I replaced it with exercising—I exercise every day now so I’m healthier which is odd.
Nail art. I always liked to paint my nails but they’ve gotten more involved lately.
The need to get outside and explore more has definitely been something that I have embraced. I’m such a snob that I just wouldn’t go snowboarding on the East Coast anymore but the boys have really wanted to go so I have gone a lot more than I have in years past which has been great.
I surfed more too. Oh, and a gratitude journal—in my Japanese DDC edition of Field Notes.
Yeah—I tried to get more into stretching. I tend to be go-go-go so it’s helping me calm down a little bit.
I definitely started cooking more. Trying to cook new things, using new ingredients. Chicken Alfredo. Stir fry with just vegetables. My favorite thing to cook is to get a big London Broil, marinate it, and have steak fajitas or soft tacos. Have lots of ingredients, like avocados, cilantro, fresh jalapenos chopped up in there, lettuce, tomato–pretty much go all out—sauteed onions and green peppers, we make that at least once a week. It’s my favorite.
Catching a wave. Gardening. Cooking up a new recipe. P90X. Making time for that next chapter. Finding creative outlets and managing to carve out some time to pursue them has been really important this year. It doesn’t matter what it is, but having a project to go back to helps provide a little bit of structure we’re lacking in so many other ways. These activities, along with our typical cycle of meetings is bringing some degree of normalcy and rhythm to an otherwise “unprecedented” year.