With most of us working or going to school from home, we’re all trying to make the most of the space we have – especially those of us in big cities with small apartments. Whether you’re working nine-to-five or on that freelance grind, here’s 8 simple ways to make the most out of the space you’re now calling “the office.”
First, let’s talk about your setup
A great place to start is to define your work area. Not everyone has room for a desk, especially if you’re already occupying a small living space, but a standalone desk isn’t necessary. Your kitchen table is a great place to start! If it’s the couch or your kitchen counter you’re working from, those can work too, just make sure you have proper back support.
If you are lucky enough to have a spot available, a great (and non-permanent) option is a folding table or desk that can be tucked away at the end of the day. Not only does this save space in your home, but it also helps to set a boundary and indicate that the work day is over. Once your work space is put away, it will be much easier to walk away from your to-do list.
Bless your “home office” with good vibes
According to the rules of feng shui, a Chinese practice that encourages balance and stability, there’s a few things you should do to increase at-home productivity that just make sense. First, don’t sit facing a window. According to feng shui, doors and windows feed energy in and out of a room. Not only could a window to the outside world be visually distracting, but it could also draw out energy you could otherwise be using to check things off your list. Speaking of energy, a solid wall behind you or a supportive chair could help add stability and focus. Finally, pick a well-lit space to work from. If your apartment doesn’t get a lot of natural light, make sure you have a lamp (or two) to keep your space bright.
When it comes to building your home office, you may not want to compromise form for function – especially if your office is also your main living space. Instead of investing in a new, clunky desk chair like the ones you might be used to, opt for seating that’s stylish, too. There’s a few things you’ll want to keep in mind: proper back support, and a soft seat that you’ll be able to sit in all day long. That means counter stools or minimal formica chairs aren’t the best option. Instead, try an upholstered dining chair in a bright fabric that looks just as good as an accent piece as it is comfortable to sit in.
Next, let’s get into the work-from-home mindset
Ask any work-from-home veteran and they’re likely to share the golden rule – no working from your bed! According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard, it’s best to keep work out of the bedroom, otherwise, your mind loses the strong association between your bed and sleep. When your sleep schedule is off, it can snowball into a whole host of issues like fatigue, mood swings, and more that could keep you from being most productive. Another feng shui takeaway is to place your desk as far away from your bedroom as possible if you can, for this exact reason.
This one may feel obvious, but if you’re having a hard time getting into a productive headspace, then create a new work from home routine. Many of us are no longer commuting, which means we have a few more hours to ourselves, but that also means we’re missing that pivotal transition period between work and play. An easy way to signal to your brain that chill time is over is to change your clothes. This may sound silly, but trust the experts: one study found that wearing formal business attire helped subjects feel more “authoritative” and competent. So yes, you should change out of your pajamas.
If you find that you’re less motivated without positive reinforcement from your coworkers, set up your own reward system. For example, you can give yourself 10 minutes to scroll through your social feeds as a reward for completing three tasks. Maybe your reward is a stretching session, a snack, or a walk outside – find something that works best for you.
Finally, it’s important to set clear boundaries between your work life and home life.
Like we mentioned before, this is where a folding desk would come in handy. But if you can’t physically put your work away, then make sure you’re walking away from your work. If you share a living room with roommates, like many of Common’s members do, head to the common area for some socializing. Use this time to catch up on all things unrelated to work, like the show’s you’re all bingeing or what’s happening in the neighborhood. This mindset switch will help your brain log off, too, and helps to maintain a healthy work-life balance.