Image from The Old Painted Cottage
More and more, Americans are forgoing the corporate track for careers in start-ups and small companies that have non-traditional work hours and office spaces. Working from home is a reality for many, yet New Yorkers are struggling to carve out a workspace in cramped city quarters that are full of distractions. We at Done and Done know that the transition from an office routine to working from home can be difficult, particularly if you do not have the extra square footage to annex for a full-time workspace. We have thus strategized these solutions for you in order to maximize peace, productivity, and order in your home and work life: the pop-up home office!
TIPS AND TRICKS!
- Pick a space, a surface, and a chair. At the very minimum, you need a place to put your laptop and a seat which is relatively comfortable, perhaps also some space to shuffle through papers – 3′ by 3′ should work. If it’s not a traditional desk and office chair, then you can use your kitchen table, or even pick a sunny patch of floor and set up a modern bed tray and meditation cushion upon which to perch (which will help you keep your back straight). If you need air and light to focus, position a desk or the kitchen table by a window. If you don’t mind cozy, smaller spaces with less distractions and you have the a closet with a wide door, then consider transforming it into a to-die-for closet office.
- Think about way in which you can produce a sense of separateness from your apartment. Perhaps a bookshelf or a curtain would sequester your workspace away from the rest of the house so as to minimize distractions and give you an internal sense of quiet and concentration. If your office doubles as a guest room and you have a door separating you from the rest of the house, buy a white noise maker to block out any distracting noise from roommates, kids, or spouses.
- Invest in space-saving office supplies: laptops are an obvious skinny and portable to boot, but in case you are still working with a big old desktop, consider buying a smaller (and relatively inexpensive) work computer that has basic functions like word processing and internet access. Also, in the case that you need to print, mobile printers are teeny-tiny and entirely wireless, so you can pack them up at the end of the day. Buy a small wall clock so you are not always checking your phone. Lastly, get something to organize pens, pencils, and whatever else you need (a desktop organizer or a mason jar will do), and a stapler.
- Keep all office supplies in an attractive box that you won’t having out if it’s tucked away in the corner of your apartment, like something in rattan with handles. Things to also store that you would bring to the office: a metal water bottle, a tube of Chapstick, a small moisturizer, and some dry snacks. Get a small filing box that can be tucked under the table when you are finished working.
Sliding cabinet doors can easily hide a couple shelves worth of office supplies.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Give yourself ten minutes to set up and make a pot of coffee. If you didn’t tidy up the night before, as per Apartment Therapy’s life-changing 10 minute routine, do it now – a clear space helps you concentrate. Don’t work in your pajamas, either – you’re more likely to get sleepy after an hour. Turn the AC down a few degrees, as keeping it a bit chilly will help you stay alert.
Move into your workspace, take our your box of supplies and set your desk neatly. The trick of this system is to treat your office like it is a separate space, and not be constantly moving in between work and home-mode. One of the greatest challenges of working in your living space is that you have access to everything you own – if you need Chapstick, you are suddenly in the bedroom, digging through your makeup drawer to find the Rosebud Salve. If you were at work, you would make do with what you brought, and spend a fraction of the time thinking about it. Set a time for breaks when you start so you know when you will have a moment to decompress, stretch, and take a walk, and have more coffee if you need it.
Finally, take a tip from Sherlock Holmes: 3-5 minutes of meditation before you start working will build a practice of mindfulness, increasing mental acuity and the ability to multi-task. Try it!