It's an understatement to say our homes are in heavy use these days given how housebound we've become. As we adapt to the new normal, our spaces also need to adapt to accommodate our increased time spent working and schooling from home. Creativity abounds as people carve out makeshift home workspaces in bathrooms, closets, and vehicles. No idea is off the table...even if laptops are literally off desks and onto anything from ironing boards to filing cabinets. Whether your current set-up needs an overhaul, or just some fine-tuning, here are the essential steps to creating a space that supports optimal work and study habits.
1. Prioritize: Consider your family's lifestyle and needs. The nature of your work, schedules, level of independence, the layout of your home, and personal preferences will influence your optimal set-up. First identify what will have the biggest impact on setting your family up for success. Consider criteria like:
- A proper desk and chair to promote good health during long hours of work
- A closed door for privacy
- A professional-looking backdrop for Zoom calls
- Natural light for mood-boosting
- A large enough space to fit materials, resources and other work supplies
- A place nearby where you can keep an eye on young kids
2. Assess your space: Think outside your existing layout. Ask yourself what options you have that best meet your key criteria. What could you shift, let go of, borrow or buy to create a suitable home workspace? How can you better utilize vertical height, or underutilized storage spaces? If you anticipate working from home for the long haul, you may want to upgrade a dedicated office. If not, you can adapt spaces for dual-function, setting up a small desk in an empty corner of a bedroom or stairway landing. A dining table can also do double duty when you make it a habit to transition from one use to the next.
3. Equip & contain: Designating a place for things empowers everyone to tidy up as they switch in and out of work mode. Think of work supplies in two categories: (1) What is used heavily and warrants leaving out? Your decision will depend both on your work requirements and available space, but large furniture and tech are most likely essentials. (2) What can be stored nearby and taken out as needed? Carve out space for things like books and school supplies to avoid cluttering surfaces. The right storage solutions will keep things easy to find and put away. Use labelled shelving, bins, a cart or bag and group by category or person.
4. Personalize: The things we surround ourselves with can influence our mood and self-esteem. Consider a few things you can style the space with that will boost your motivation...an inspiring book, an award or thank you letter, a mug that makes you smile, a calendar with key deadlines, or a fresh plant. For kids, it may be their class photo, a favourite work sample/drawing, or simply a special notebook and pencil.
5. Limit distractions: Equally as important as having the right things, is limiting the wrong things. Kids and adults both benefit from keeping distractions out of sight. Whether it's food, toys or media, encourage the family to return things to their designated place before work time begins. For people distractions, embrace headphones and schedule use of multi-purpose areas. This is also good incentive to get work done on a deadline!
Creating designated work zones that align with your needs can contribute to more productive work and help the family transition from work to relaxation, and back again, more purposefully and neatly.
About Sarah Grant:
Sarah and her family are based in Kelowna, British Columbia and she frequents Toronto seasonally for projects. For further organization ideas and inspiration, follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahgrantinteriors
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