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T Picks: Things to Boost Productivity While You Work From Home

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

From left: A.Muse’s herbal brew tea, Vitruvi’s diffuser, Down Dog’s fitness app, Babaa’s knitwear.
From left: A.Muse’s herbal brew tea, Vitruvi’s diffuser, Down Dog’s fitness app, Babaa’s knitwear.

In the midst of a world-sweeping pandemic that has upended nearly every facet of modern life, people are finding it more and more challenging to get things done. It can be hard enough to be productive in the best of times, let alone when we’re facing a global crisis.

If, like us, you’ve set up your ‘Work From Home’ station and found yourself listlessly swivelling on your chair, unsure how to navigate through the abundance of time during the day while the world continues its battle against a vicious pathogen, you’re not alone. The idea that we have so much time available during the day is terrific — but these days, it’s the opposite of a luxury. We are home because we have to be home, and we have less attention span because we’re living through uncertain times.

While life has to go on, it’s also important for us to take the time to step back and reflect. In this new homebound lifestyle and rhythm, the world is trying its best to recalibrate. Parents are balancing work and childcare at home. Communication at large has decamped to the virtual sphere. There’s a lot to take in.

Here, the T Singapore editorial team creates a list of things, from apps to comforting knitwear, that might just help make it a little easier to get back on track.

A Stimulating Storybook for the Kids

Courtesy of Open TrolleyDr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” storybook.
Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” storybook.

Part of the “work from home” challenge for me is having to entertain a six-year-old while maintaining a daily work schedule. Books are a great way to keep children entertained, but the trick is in finding something that can engage them. Puzzle books help stimulate the mind while writing a journal can encourage self-reflection in this lockdown period, and also help them express themselves creatively. Meanwhile, storybooks or encyclopedias can truly widen their horizons in a time where outdoor exploration is being curtailed. Normally I would support independent and bricks-and-mortar bookstores or even libraries, but since these are closed, you can try the online book store Open Trolley. Most books can be delivered within a week, and other genres like self-help and philosophy are also available to keep adult minds challenged as well. Personally I think “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss is a particularly apt read for the younger set as it encourages mental resilience. — Renée Batchelor

A Well-Designed Tumbler to Keep You Hydrated

Courtesy of The Editor’s MarketKinto’s travel tumblers.
Kinto’s travel tumblers.

The importance of drinking enough water is often neglected, and it is especially crucial now with a virus in the air. The thought of having to chug two to three litres daily can be intimidating, but it can be done. For myself, a cute bottle like this Kinto Travel Tumbler, coupled with an app like WaterMinder really helps — a trusty reminder that drops you a notification every few hours and allows you to log the volume of your go-to tumblers. Tip: Drink a glass of cold lemon-infused water in the morning. The cold water wakes you up, and the lemon helps boost your immune system. — Michelle Kok

Cosy Wear-Forever Knit Pieces

Courtesy of BabaàBabaà’s knitwear collection.
Babaà’s knitwear collection.

Babaà, a humble, direct-to-consumer knitwear brand from Spain, has built itself significantly to produce high-quality cosy wear made around the core value of sustainability since its foundation in 2012. Using only its local and natural materials, as well as a healthy making process, the brand aims to nourish the textile industry without compromising on style and comfort. With a trove of clothing options made in wool, cotton and merino, Babaà appears to be well-positioned for an elevated work-from-home look for those straddling between presentable clothes and a blanket. — Lynette Kee

Supportive Swivel Chairs

Courtesy of HygHyg’s collection of shell-seat chairs.
Hyg’s collection of shell-seat chairs.

The Hyg collection of chairs, designed by Simon Legald for Normann Copenhagen, are each sculpted by the Danish designer to highlight functionality through beautiful design. Inspired by the Danish “hygge” mode of life, which acknowledges every aspect of living as a cosy, special experience, the shell seats are curved with intent to support the human body, enable productivity and shape wonderful moments at home. The swivel-wheel pieces can be comfy versatile additions to the home office, but static versions are also available, serving as bar stools or just pretty, plain chairs. — Terence Poh

A DIY Herbal Tea Kit

Courtesy of A.MuseA.Muse’s customisable herbal tea blends.
A.Muse’s customisable herbal tea blends.

For those who don’t drink coffee in the morning yet requires a caffeine boost to stay awake, a warm brew of herbal tea is a calming alternative. It helps you focus and there is a zen to it. A.Muse’s customisable herbal tea blend lets you choose from a base of rooibos (South African shrub leaves with a sweet and nutty flavour) and spearmint. You can add in flowers (from earthy lavender to sweet chamomile), herbs (lemon balm, reship, raspberry leaf) and spices (ginger, star anise, cinnamon) for an extra aromatic kick that suits your liking. — Tung Pham

A Face Mist as a Midday Perk-Me-Up

Courtesy of ChantecailleChantecaille’s Eau de Rose de Mai rosewater face mist.
Chantecaille’s Eau de Rose de Mai rosewater face mist.

Never underestimate the sense of smell as one of the most important stimulants. For those who are not working in air-conditioning, a face mist can be a great, midday perk-me-up for both your skin and your senses. Just leave a bottle in the fridge for a more refreshing blast. I’m using Chantecaille’s Eau de Rose de Mai, a pure rosewater mist to help refresh my tired skin. I love the natural, rose scent and that it is both vegan and free of any synthetic fragrances or colourants. If you don't have a face mist ready at home you can try ordering them online at Escentials or even pick up one like Avène Thermal Spring Water from Watson’s the next time you’re out grabbing groceries. — Renée Batchelor

An App That Helps You Take a Breather

Courtesy of Down DogDown Dog’s fitness mobile app.
Down Dog’s fitness mobile app.

The flexibility of working at home means you can hit the pause button and reset whenever you need to. For me, that means rolling out my yoga mat and fitting in a quick practice in between the flurry of emails. There are a number of fitness apps out there but Down Dog is the one I keep going back to. What’s superb about it is that it lets you customise your practice to fit your preferences down to a T, from the type of yoga (11 of them, including ashtanga and easy restorative stretches) to the instructor’s voice (there are six options; my go-to is Sammi’s crisp and clear guidance). The best part? Down Dog just made its app free until the 1st of May in support of everyone who’s staying at home. If you’re a teacher, student or a healthcare professional, you can get your free access up and running till the 1st of July. — Bianca Husodo

A Diffuser That Can Be Part of Your Home Decor

Courtesy of VitruviVitruvi’s terracotta stone diffuser.
Vitruvi’s terracotta stone diffuser.

Diffusing essential oils is a great way to clear the mind, energise and revitalise yourself. I’ve also been relying on lavender-based blends to help with sleep, and it’s proven to be really effective. At home, I have been using my trusty Muji Aroma Diffuser, but on my list is the Vitruvi Terracotta Stone Diffuser that doubles as a sculptural piece of decor. — Michelle Kok

A Healthy Indulgent Treat

Courtesy of The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.’s dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan flavours.
The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.’s dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan flavours.

The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and locally made desserts make for indulgently delicious treats while working from home. My favourites are the acai berry sorbet and vegan dark chocolate. — Jack Wang

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