Now that it's been 138 days (for me) working from home, it's time to make sure you're keeping yourself safe and healthy! There are important things to consider when you're planning the coming weeks (and months) and that includes your workspace.
A quick note first: If you're a healthcare worker or a frontline worker who is out in the midst of the pandemic keeping the world moving: Thank you. I can only imagine how difficult it must be every day to climb out of bed and put yourself right in front of it all, so on behalf of everyone who doesn't have to: Thank you.
Last week I covered some tips and tricks for the most important aspect of working from home (in my opinion): Routine. Making sure you keep it, some ideas for keeping yourself excited even if your normal commute has gone away.
What's also important? Your workspace.
Now, I live in a New York apartment so I know that we're not all blessed with loads of space or spare rooms that you can move to when you want to get some work done. So when I'm talking about workspace, I'm going to make sure I include you apartment-dwellers too, don't you worry.
Why is a workspace important?
Your brain is a weird thing.
You'd think that you can consciously tell it whatever you want but half the time it's really going on a merry adventure and you're just along for the ride. So it's important that you do a few things to train it in the right direction so that it's working as a teammate and not as your foe!
Dividing your work and non-work hours with a routine is critically important as we discussed last week, but that also applies in the physical realm too. This means having a spot for work, a spot for play, and a spot for rest in your apartment or house.
What this does is help you physically move from your “office” to your “home” even though you haven't left the four walls and while I might sound like a crazy suggesting it, it really works!
How are you meant to find space?
There are kids, and pets, and housemates, and pots and pans, and noise. Where on earth are you meant to find space?
Well, here's where you can get tricky.
First, think of it negatively as opposed to positively. Don't think about where you can work, but think about where you shouldn't.
You should never work from your bed because that will ultimately destroy your ability to sleep. You'll lie down and the last time you were sitting there you were thinking about tasks, and work, and clients, and staff, and everything that works against your sleep.
You shouldn't work from your bathroom, because, well it'd be difficult I imagine.
You also should avoid working from your couch/TV/relaxation area wherever possible. In smaller apartments I know I'm starting to make things difficult but where you can, you should avoid this.
Every place you sit to do work for a day will become a little spot of stress when you sit there again later and try and enjoy yourself.
My way of finding space in a small apartment
If you have a dining table, or a table at all, anywhere in your apartment, that's probably going to be your workplace, and here's a crazy idea: Pick a chair and a spot at the table that becomes your workplace.
Yep, I sound nuts, I realize.
But make that chair and that spot you work at the only spot you sit and do work throughout the day. Then at all other times, sit somewhere else and/or on another chair.
In the short term, you'll feel nuts telling the people you live with “Sorry, I can't sit there, that's my workspace” but trust me: It'll pay off in the long term because you won't ruin your apartment for yourself.
Headphones are also a great friend to block out the noises and feelings of being at home (and noisy upstairs neighbors). They can transport you to a place just like work and give you a feeling like you're in a bubble far away from your kitchen table. I wear these ones almost year-round which blocks all the noise out.
How do I know this?
I'm not a professional psychologist, but I've got some personal experience!
Rewind before I moved to the US and I was living in Adelaide, South Australia, in a 2 bedroom HOUSE (oh the memories of all that space).
I worked from home, and had discovered the magical adventure that is rolling out of bed, and ALREADY BEING AT WORK! I had a full desk set up with my computer in my room and I could switch back and forth seamlessly between lazing about in bed and being at work! I could also take my laptop into the living room and work while watching TV. THE DREAM!
After a while of doing this, I started to realize that I was finding it really hard to wind down after “finishing work”. I found it harder to relax before bed and was having trouble sleeping. My work slipped because I couldn't concentrate when I was meant to be working, and I found myself thinking about work while I was sitting on the couch at the end of the day.
It sucked! The goodness of working from home was all but gone and I craved to get out and go to an office (which I ultimately did).
With that experience, since moving to New York, I've stuck to these small and realtively easy tricks and I haven't had any trouble getting on with my day even though I barely go outside anymore!
Do you have other tips and tricks?
Send them through or comment below! I love to hear how you're all coping!