Many of us are working from home at the moment. Some of us for the first time, most of us more than usual. So in this post for National Organising Week, we asked some of our APDO members to show us their workspaces, and give us some tips to make working from home work for you.
Show us your workspace!
At the beginning of lockdown, I was sharing an office workspace with my husband. Then, when our youngest child moved out to get married in the summer, we changed their old bedroom into an office space for my husband! I am very fortunate now to have a lovely space of my own – ready to re-decorate, organise and make mine!
A lot of my work is done from home but, as I don’t have room for an office, I work in my living room. Since there is only one table here, at first I found it hard to separate work time from free time. I solved the problem by simply sitting at a one side of the table for work, and on the opposite side when it’s time to relax. Putting all my work stuff away after work is an additional reminder that the office is closed. I find my mind is much better able to make the switch through these two simple actions.
I’ve seen all sorts of home working set ups since I’ve been back in client homes post lockdown. Necessity has produced creativity to establish the best arrangement, and there is a great deal of compromise going on. Our house is no different!
My husband has taken over my home office and after a few weeks’ sofa surfing, I settled on a desk in our living room. I’m out for a few hours every day with clients but, once the kids are back and the after-school TV starts, the headphones go on to zone everyone out! Whilst my work files are all still securely stored in the office, I have moved all the basics to have them at hand. Plus, I have a great view of the comings and goings on my street which has been great fun as passers-by have been waving at me!
My workspace used to be our upstairs home office. Since both my husband and I work from home now, I have given him the upstairs office (because he needs space for two monitors) and I use the kitchen/diner as my workspace. I also added a few things to the home office in the past months, making it a relaxation room as well as a workspace. The relaxation room is where I do my reading, calligraphy and meditation at weekends.
Most of the time the space works well for both of us, although I now realise I need a space for my printer in the kitchen/diner, which means I need to declutter and make space in one of the kitchen cupboards!
When I realised that I would be working from home more I also realised that, as much as I valued the holistic meditation space I had set up in my home office, it was taking up too much space in the room. I removed it to add a second desk, so that my daughters had one desk and I had my own. I also added a second IKEA KALLAX unit which is perfect for storage, including business files. I also use portable drawers to store stationery, as I like to keep as much clutter off the desk as possible to reduce “mind clutter” and distractions.
I’m lucky to have a spare room as my office. I use a desk, set of drawers and two shelves of a bookcase for work-related matters. My husband has been home based for more than 20 years but we’re lucky to have a separate space for him to work in.
I clear my desk at the end of the week rather than every day, as often I’m mid-way through something and it would take longer to put it all away and bring it out again! If I go into that room over the weekend it is purely a spare room at that time, not an office.
What works for me?
- A clear distinction between personal paperwork (I keep this behind me) and work paperwork (I keep this on a bookcase and in drawers).
- Creating a layout on the desk that I can stick to, so that I know where to find what I want, when I need it.
- Having a consistent layout creates a habit for the brain with less ‘thinking time’ and more ‘automated actions’.
When I started my business, I worked from the dining table and created an ‘office in a box’ with all the things I needed for my day-to-day work. It worked really well for a while, and I could pack it away when my working day was done so that we could carry on with family dinner and activities.
Later, however, I wanted my own space to spread out, display images, store more work equipment and have a standing desk, so I targeted our spare room. As many spare rooms do, it had become a space for storage and laundry. My first step was to look through everything, and I found that the things we had stored in there were no longer as important to us as they once were and we felt comfortable giving them up in favour of creating my office. I took photos of some items that held memories and donated, sold and disposed of anything we no longer wanted to keep. I was then able to organise the cupboard space for my work and to store some family items.
There isn’t a lot of space, but I have a home for everything, my stand-up desk fits perfectly and I can run workshops and video calls with clients in peace. I’m lucky to have this space because shortly afterwards the rest of my family moved in for lockdown!
My husband works from home and so has his own office. I have a dedicated space which we call my “Harry Potter cupboard” – we put a few shelves in the cupboard and made a fold down desk. I only need it for occasional admin so it is perfect.
If you don’t have a dedicated space, it helps to put everything away at the end of the day or at the end of the week to ensure that you leave work at work. If you are thinking longer term, then think about a small desk, perhaps converting an old dressing table, or using cupboard or wardrobe space. When working from home, the most important thing is to go online and do your own mini work station assessment: ensure your laptop or PC screen is at the correct height, and invest in a supportive and moveable chair. And, of course, make it Zoom-friendly so you don’t have a dressing gown hanging in the background!
If you enjoyed this post, did you see Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo‘s advice on organising for these current times? And look out for our next National Organising Week post tomorrow, where we reveal our members’ Top 10 organising products!