Melissa C. Koh

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My Work From Home Essentials


Even through we’ve slipped into the end of circuit-breaker measures, we will definitely have to adapt to this new normal – of working from home whenever possible. But let’s be real, working from home needs a tremendous amount of willpower. There’s only so much you can do to stay on track before you fall into the deep abysses of netflix and tiktok.  With temptations all around us, how do we draw the line between work-time and me-time? For me, separating work and home can be really challenging. I can’t just leave Noah aside as I struggle to complete the tasks I’ve set out for the day. Adapting to the work-from home arrangement, I’ve been practicing these habits to help me stay focused, even when I’m constantly switching between work-mode and mom-mode. 


Look and feel ready

I’ve found that the things I do each morning sets the pace for the rest of the day. If I allow myself a few extra minutes to lie down and scroll through social media on my phone, I’ll be left lounging there for the rest of the day. The moment I wake up, I resist the urge to crawl back under the covers and immediately get out of bed. At this point of time, I’m still tired and groggy. Waking up like this feels like ripping off a band-aid – quick and painful, but by the time I’m done getting ready, the grogginess and desire to retreat to the pillowy soft bed is gone. Making my bed also reminds me that I will not be crawling back into it any time soon (at least until bedtime rolls around).

Even though I know I won’t be meeting anyone, I would still go through my morning routine as if I were heading out. I like to take this time to recalibrate, and make a mental checklist of the things I’d like to accomplish today. On normal days, commuting from home to where I need to be really helps me transition from a state of focus. But when I know I’ll just be staying at home the whole day, the ritual of getting dressed, applying sunscreen and some light make-up allows me the quiet time to reset and gear up for the day ahead. 

For the past month or so, I’ve been wearing these fashion pieces over and over again. The tailored cut and dramatic silhouette of this loungewear set makes it look much more polished than it feels. It’s an outfit that makes you want to strut outside in a nice pair of heels, only a thousand times more comfortable. On days where I want to feel more feminine and put-together, I slip into this breezy and lightweight dress. It’s extra comfy, perfect for the long hours hunched at a desk. Bonus points for making every girl feel like a princess in this flowy number!

Create a zen workspace

Once I’m dressed and ready to begin work, the first thing on my agenda is always to tidy up my workspace, and gather all the items I may need throughout the day. At my designated workspace, I keep items like lip balm, hand cream, a tall glass of water to stay hydrated and facial mist to stave off mid-afternoon bouts of sleepiness. With these essentials at arms’ reach, I limit reasons to have to leave my workspace. This one’s important, as it prevents me from losing focus and getting distracted by frivolous activities.

We all know about the insane benefits of staying hydrated, so I’ll spare the details. And this might sound silly to some, but I take my water bottles and drinking glasses very seriously. Nothing makes the world’s most important beverage more palatable than drinking it out of a beautifully made vessel. I feel fancier drinking water out of a nice tall glass and I swear I probably subconsciously drink more water throughout the day thanks to this beauty. 

I’ve been trying to avoid caffeine lately, as I’m breastfeeding Noah. To replace my mid-afternoon cuppa, I’ll usually reach for a soothing yet refreshing face mist when I begin to get restless and my mind starts feeling foggy. I like the Caudalie Beauty Elixir for its peppermint and rosemary extract, which instantly perks me up, leaving me refreshed and ready to get back down to work. It also delivers a major dose of hydration, and I don’t even have to touch my face (perfect for this time, when it’s best not to touch our faces unnecessarily).

My lips also tend to get very dry in air-conditioned environments, and I’m ashamed to admit that I do have the awful habit of peeling my lips. To stop myself from getting distracted by my chapped lips, I’ll always try to keep a lip balm on hand. This Moroccan Mint lip balm from Handmade Heroes leaves a nice cooling sensation on the lips, calming the urge to peel my dry lip. It’s especially soothing and moisturising, so my lips feel protected even in an air-conditioned house. Bonus: It smells really yummy too!

Staying connected

Working from home sounds like an ultimate dream, the downside of it is being unable to connect with your colleagues on work projects and discussions. Nothing truly beats being able to walk over to your colleague’s desk to ask for her opinion, or being able to hold group discussions as and when needed. To facilitate my team’s collaborative effort, I’ve been relying on productivity platforms like Trello to delegate tasks and to stay updated on my team’s progress. If you’re interested in streamlining your work tasks and communication with colleagues, do check out my blog post on the apps that help me stay connected with my team when working from home. 

As a new mother, staying connected doesn’t just mean in the workspace. I’m constantly toggling between filming, shoots and making sure that Noah is happy and healthy. To help keep our minds at ease while we work, James and I use a baby-monitor to stay updated on how Noah’s doing in his nursery. But most of the time, when Noah gets restless or starts crying, I still experience mad amounts of mom guilt and I want nothing more than to give him a really big hug. Juggling work and parenthood is really still a work in progress, and we’re still learning as we go but for now, we’re doing what we can to toggle between the two. 

Switching out of work-mode

Just like how I need my morning skincare and make-up routine to transition myself into full-on work mode, I like to dedicate a block of me-time, to signal the end of my work day. Self-isolation can really take a toll on our mental states and switching off from work-mode to allow myself some time to reconnect and unwind is crucial. Personally, I’ve been getting into Tiktok recently, and besides all the catchy dance moves and hilarious antics that I can endlessly scroll through, I find making Tiktok videos to be an exciting way to end off the day. It really gets our creative juices flowing and lets us release some of our craziness from being stuck at home.

What are your tips for staying focused while working from home? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, stay safe!


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