Written while listening to this
For most of us, it has been a week since we moved our offices home. I imagine most of us now have two sets of pajamas - one set for the day and one for the night. Moreover, most of us probably are having breakfast and lunch while working and dinners next to a pile of papers, mounting every day.
As we all try to navigate through a series of unprecedented events and uncertainties, it is only natural to get lost in how we manage our new routines. In the end, it was not us who made the decision but we all had to pivot to an unfamiliar setting - rather quickly.
But as the current situation suggests, it is in our best interest to create a sustainable environment for work from home today so that we find the motivation to get things done tomorrow.
What we need is a work-friendly space at home and it begins with seclusion because we are after only one thing: Concentration. If we do not have a customized area, a territory, if you like, concentrating will be a battle after only one week.
We do not necessarily need a separate workspace, but a dedicated space that mentally prepares us for work mode will do wonders. You may not need a desk, but a designated area where you won't be disturbed or distracted is key to your high performance.
We need seclusion from distractions, or we might just get ready with snacks in matching designer bowls, on the couch with favorite blue throw pillow, turning on that tv show we've been waiting for. However, choosing a space, we don't go for relaxation is the way to success. So better not designate your couch as your workspace.
The second thing we need is proper cues because there is a lack of triggers we are so used to. It takes only a few days to sink in procrastination. We cannot depend on our mood to start working; therefore, we need cues to replace the commute or the first coffee of the day in our favorite blue mug now sitting nicely at our desk at work.
What else do you need? Make sure you set up everything you need.
It goes without saying the need for daylight. A well-lit work area is crucial as distractions lure us easier after a couple of hours because our body clocks tend to prepare us for sleep in low-lit surroundings.
And a chair. Your chair mustn't be the comfiest but an ergonomic one. The difference is crucial. A too comfy chair will lure you into snoozing, but an ergonomic one will help you concentrate. If you do not want to invest in one, be sure to support your lower back and feet. Supported lower back and feet will help us sit straight, which keeps us awake and forlong our concentration.
So now, your well-lit, ergonomic, dedicated workspace keeps you away from procrastination. Your new cues have begun to emerge even unintentionally - for example, mine is unloading the dishwasher while waiting for the kettle, and the moment coffee is ready, I use that momentum to bypass the couch. Chores are great cues.
Once your physical surroundings and the emotional commute is set, we can talk about inspiration. It is our most necessary but less prioritized need, we take it for granted so quickly!
Yet, concentration thrives with inspiration. Besides, enjoying our surroundings is a powerful source to keep us want to come here daily to get the work done. While uncertainties trap us to procrastinate, inspiration gives us hope and the stamina to do the work for a better tomorrow.
My go-to inspiration for a home office would be decorative elements such as wall art - preferably modern prints. Plants - but I’d keep it minimalistic with air plants as they are low maintenance. And books, lots of books because they make me feel safe and grounded.
Victor Hugo was a great procrastinator. To compel himself to finish his daily writing quota, he kept his formal clothes locked away while working so that he became physically incapable of going out to socialize.
Although it might take a bit of trial and error until you find your right spot, we do not need to be miserable as Hugo was, we can cultivate an inspirational nook to keep our work performance high.
Once we find the spot, the best way to get used to it is to create a block of time. It will help our inner clock move our bodies to arrive to our new spot every day at the same time, and that's what we'll be talking about next.
Until then, stay safe.