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Working from home can be challenging on even the best days, especially if you’re dealing with pets, kids, or staring down your never-ending list of domestic chores. Even more difficult can be working from home in a small space, as it can be tough to carve out extra room without letting work take over your personal space.
Now that many businesses have implemented work from home policies to avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19, many employees have found themselves in unfamiliar territory. If you’re one of those newly initiated to working from home, now is a great time to make sure that your space is as comfortable and functional as possible - no matter your home size.
If you’re looking to make the most of your small space but aren’t sure where to start, read on for tips from organization expert (and self-professed work from home-er) Ivanka Siolkowsky of The Tidy Moose.
Where should you work if you don’t have a desk?
When we’re used to working in an office, it can be a big challenge getting used to a new space that doesn’t have all the usual comforts. Many of us must now deal with a lack of a designated desk space, but Siolkowsky warns against picking short-term comfort over long-term health.
“It’s very easy in small spaces to resort to bringing your laptop to bed or sitting on the couch because it’s comfortable, but - this is both organizational and for your body - you don’t want to do that,” she shared.
If you don’t have a desk available, she points to the kitchen table as the next best option.
“Create a little area there that is like a desk, like an office at work,” Siolkowsky suggests. “Maybe [put] a little plant by your computer, [make] sure you’ve got pens handy. It’s creating that office space so that you don’t get too far off of a routine.”
And if there’s no kitchen table?
If you’re in a compact apartment like a studio, you may not have the luxury of turning a dining table into your workspace. If that’s the case, Siolkowsky recommends using pillows to prop up your laptop either in bed or on the couch.
“Some apartments don’t have tables even, some people eat on their couch,” she notes. “What you can do is take pillows to bring your laptop higher up so that your arms are at a 90 degree angle and then the laptop is more at your own eyesight.”
While it may not be the ideal solution, this quick fix is helpful for keeping your neck and spine in alignment while you work, and preventing unnecessary strain.
Keep work and home life separate
Siolkowsky stressed that while working from home can take a toll on your mental health, one of the best ways to avoid adding extra stress to an already difficult situation is to clearly define your work and your home life.
Rather than bouncing around from place to place in your home, she suggests choosing one spot to stick to through the workday. Whether it’s a quiet corner, a portion of the kitchen counter, or a corner at your dining table, sticking with one location will help limit distractions throughout the day.
“Set up a spot that will be the best [for you] and will be the spot moving forward,” she says. “All of that time trying to figure out the spot is actually killing your work time, so find a spot that works.”
At the end of the day, she also recommends packing up your work essentials and tucking them away to mentally remind yourself that you’re no longer at work.
“Maybe you have a bin in your house, or a laundry basket even would work,” Siolkowsky adds. “You have your ‘office’ fit in the laundry basket so that when work is done, so is that office space. You’re now at home, you’re no longer in your office.”
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