Welcome back “stay at homies”! We’re so glad you’re here.
We are inundated these days with the “rules and recommendations” for dealing with COVID-19; social distancing, hand washing, drinking more water, and finally, staying home; but how to we plan for maintaining productivity and work/life balance now that we are called to “integrate” our opposing (at times) methods of operation while working remotely from home for an indefinite time? Yikes!
Working from home can be tricky for those (like me) accustomed to going into an office, OR, for others with already compressed living spaces. In order to be productive, it’s important to design a custom structure for your success. Part of what makes us productive at work is that our surroundings and organizational tools are already “set up” and we access an already functioning and organized space. Not only that, the physical “transition” from home-to-work-to-home, is helpful in attaching and detaching from our social or work selves.
But how do we integrate these two “selves” within an already functioning space, that is in fact (many times) pre-determined (and made for the complete opposite of activities and behaviors). For example, taking care of “home” responsibilities can be very tempting (and counter-productive) to your work flow during intended work hours. Let’s face it, moving from personal to business and back to personal activities in a single space (and with kids home, in a single HOUR) is a challenge! But the same way we’ve learned (and data has confirmed) that our brains can’t truly “multi”-task, our brains are also not so good at multi-DOING. So perhaps it’s time we simplify and design with that data in mind. However, I might add, some people ARE just naturally better at wearing multiple hats in one day than others.
So, that said, lets consider this…
CAREFUL CONSIDERATION AND ORGANIZATION
First of all, if you haven’t already done so in the past two weeks, take a long look at the space around you. Take it all in. When determining the “zones” in your home space, it’s very important to think about things like daylight, sound, path of travel, and air comfort and quality. Make sure to give these “sensory” things careful consideration when deciding where to define your new temporary “home office space”. In other words, give yourself, your work, your family, and this decision, VALUE. Thinking about how you CURRENTLY use your space, will also greatly inform how and where you can best create a new space during this temporary time at home. And who knows, especially for those with children at home, it may turn into something we will have to endure for quite some time.
Here’s a peek at my living-room-turned-home-office that served me well for almost 10 years! It all started with two tables and a bookshelf from IKEA, and a computer.
SO NOW WHAT
Getting your day going at your new “home” office space the same way you would start your day outside your home isn’t always easy (even on a typical good day at the office), but here are a few tips that worked for me when I worked at home, and who know’s, they might help you ease the transition and provide a little extra productivity and focus!
WORK SPACE FLOW // MY TOP 15 TIPS
Here are a few tips to help you offset the agony of intrusion confusion, and get your work groove going:
- Set your alarm and get up as you would on any typical work day.
- Maintain your usual morning routine. For example, if you read the paper, do it; morning workout, keep it up; lazy time with coffee and your favorite morning show, stick with your regularly scheduled programming.
- Get dressed for a typical yet “casual” work day. Being in work clothes (or specific work “pieces”) can get you in the right mindset. Save the PJ’s for No. 15.
- Make the bed! Perhaps this is an easy one for some, but being mindful about your daily routines will signal that you are approaching your day in “work mode”.
- Share your plan and work hours and create realistic boundaries with the people you live with. These people will be your “office” mates, and if you’re all on board you will be more successful.
- Because we can still be outside and fresh air and exercise is good for you, before you get down to work, or during specific break times, consider taking a short walk. A few deep breathing exercises on your balcony, patio, or front porch with a cup of morning coffee, would do wonders for your focus, and actually create a lovely “transition” from home to work.
- If it’s at all possible in your current space, work by a window! Data shows that working in daylight allows us to regulate our sleep/wake timing and it increases the levels of our alertness.
- Claim and set-up a designated work space. I like to set up my work space at the end of my dining table, in the most comfortable and upright chair I have in my home. Consider two work zones. For example, I like to write in my room with the door closed in a sitting area by a large window. But I cannot “work” there! So I have TWO zones. A writing zone, and a work zone. This further allows me to focus on the exact activity in that specific zone which increases my focus and productivity.
- Keep your work supplies organized and at the ready. Use a large flat tray and stock it with necessary work supplies. Include a small spray of fresh flowers, and fill a favorite pitcher with water to stay hydrated!
- Reduce stress by planning for interruptions, and set break times throughout the day. Maintain and enforce strict TIME MANAGEMENT codes whenever possible, stick to the schedule! For Moms and Dads working from home (I know, I was a single mom and I did it for 14 years with three kids), if your kids are old enough, put them in charge of the break timer and work clock, and when that buzzer goes off, they will alert you and the key here… you MUST STOP and respond! Give them 10 minutes (or whatever the break time is) of undivided attention. Putting them in charge teaches and promotes a unified sense of responsibility (yep, even for the mommies and daddies) and patience, which allows them to be a part of YOUR overall success!!! I may take a few tries, but consistency is key. Encourage them to align themselves with YOUR work clock. They will love being grown up…but love it even better, when the reward for working hard and being patient, is YOU. This is also a great lesson for older kids who need to learn how to STOP using technology to take a break for even 10 minutes, put their phones down, and focus on family.
- Home environments can be very seductive, and social media browsing could be a very real distraction. Turn your personal phone notifications and social media off during work hours as you would normally at the office.
- At the END of your work day, if space is an issue, put everything into a tray and set it aside, transforming your workspace back into a home, while keeping things ready for the next work day.
- Take an end of day stroll around the block (with the kids if possible), visit that porch or balcony again…but take a moment to create the transition.
- Make dinner more FUN or CREATIVE than usual. Since you haven’t had to “rush” home, use the time you would have been commuting to pour a glass of wine into a special glass, pour a cup of tea, treat yourself to candles at the table, turn on the music, or perhaps if its “kid time” create a dinner station for them in the kitchen, and encourage the kids to prep meals while you work. Putting the work away and signaling the evening is ON, and it is now a work free zone, will certainly help you and your family reduce the stress during these uncertain times.
- And finally, it’s time for sweatpants, streaming, and snuggles with family!
Friends, these are very uncertain times, and we have all been called to action. We are in this moment together and we WILL get through these days; we will be stronger, smarter, and so it seems by the looks of things so far, far more grateful.
Here’s a peek at a few more home office projects we completed that might inspire you.
EXECUTIVE HOME OFFICE
PHOTOGRAPHER’S PRODUCTION OFFICE
TWEEN AND TEEN HOMEWORK NICHE
KITCHEN OFFICE NICHE
I pray today, that EVEN JUST ONE of these tips I have shared today inspires and empowers you to greatness!
Remember this my friend, this might take a while to get it just right, and you will have to take your own unique space and personality (and your family) into account, but with a little discipline, a dash of creativity, a healthy dose of flexibility, and a whole lot of commitment, you can make it through. Better yet…you can ROCK IT!
Let me know in the comments which TIP was YOUR favorite! I would love to hear how YOU are making your home office / home school space work for YOU!
Photography by Riley Jamison for FOUR POINT.
As always, if you have any project questions or if you want WORK WITH US, tell us about YOUR next project and please say “HELLO” by contacting us here. Fill out our questionnaire, and let’s get started!
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Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time!
Until then, be well…be safe… and please stay home!