Wow! It goes without saying these are unprecedented and trying times we are facing at the moment.
I have spent some time over the past few weeks wondering how I can help out in the community. Those on the frontline are pleading with us to stay home. I can’t do much but I can offer support. Support to everyone in terms of how you can work with your home in times of isolation.
Now more than ever our homes are becoming our retreats. Our literal escape from the world around us. But for many, they are also becoming our offices and classrooms too and this in itself can present it’s own stressors. All around the world we are being ask to isolate. To stay home and to avoid going out. Humans are naturally gregarious creatures. Even the introverts among us, we are wired for human contact and comfort. It’s important to remember that whilst we are shut off physically, we have bene blessed with the gift of technology to allow us to stay informed and connected.
This is not going to be easy, but it can be done. In my work as a design psychology coach, I know all too well the affect our walls have on us emotionally and physiologically. I have long held a deep understanding for the impact of the physical environment on our health and wellbeing. I want to draw upon my knowledge and experience and share with you to help you make simple, yet powerful and effective changes to your home to help get through this.
In recognising the overwhelming economic impact of this pandemic, I will follow these guiding principles to ensure that every suggestion offered will be:
- actionable today
- free or affordable
- rent friendly
- environmentally friendly
Where possible, keep it seperate!
When you set up a home office, you’re literally bringing your work home with you. Having a seperate space you can identify as your work space gives you freedom to step away. Do not under estimate the importance of this. Don’t set up your laptop on the couch – as tempting as it might be, because pretty soon you’ll subconsciously be recognising the couch as a work space and you’re ability to relax and unwind there will diminish. Same goes with bedroom. Now, if you can’t afford the luxury of an actual room, any space in your home that can become a dedicated work space will do. The corner of a room with a desk is ok in this instance. I’m currently writing this from a makeshift corner in the dining room because my husband is now working from home too and has the actual home office for the time being. In these circumstances this might look like anything from a small card table to a desk in the lounge room, whatever you choose make it dedicated and purposeful to work or learning and work and learning only.
It’s looking like we’re in this for the long haul. The advice from the Australian Government if to prepare for a minimum disruption of up to 6months so I’m encouraging you to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Your computer screen should be set at eye level and your chair should offer some form of lumbar support with your feet touching the ground. If possible borrow a chair from the office. A stack of books will help raise your laptop if nothing else is available. Prefer to stand? That’s ok too. A chest of drawers can offer the appropriate height so if you can, borrow one from your bedroom and turn that into a standing desk. I know there are sit/stand desks available and if that’s an option for you by all means source one, but my purpose today is to offer solutions that can be actioned now at little to no cost.
Get fresh air
If possible, set your office area up in a location that allows you access to fresh air or some means of ventilation. If that’s not possible, a medium sized indoor plant will help purify the air. You need approximately one plant for every 10 square meters. Plants also help us feel better generally. So when in doubt, plant it out!
Stick to a schedule
Plan out your day as best you can. This might be trickier if you’ve got little ones at home, but remember this is not a normal time and your best is enough right now. Take small frequent breaks, stepping away from your dedicated office space and give yourself permission to not do the house work during your work hours. You wouldn’t come home to put on a load of washing normally so don’t worry about doing it now. Buy a planner and some blu-tack, get it delivered to your home and stick that on the wall. It will help keep you accountable.
I was going to post this with inspirational shots of beautifully styled home offices but it felt wrong and it’s not what this post is about. Life is messy. Homes are messy. Today life is messier than usual. Our homes can be messier too. In the interest of keeping it real here is a shot of my girls craft table.
Fashioned out of the lid of an IKEA toy box and some drawers that used to be in their nursery… for storing nappies. Because right now you need to know that good enough is good enough. Here’s to doing our bit and staying at home. Let’s help make the best of what we can during a difficult situation.
Here’s to happy, healthy homes.
I’ll chat a little about managing anxiety at home next time. Stay safe x