For those fortunate to have remote-capable jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, working from home is, perhaps, long-held #LifeGoals brought to fruition. Unfortunately, it happened in the most surreal and frightening way. It’s of course a blessing to be employed right now when so many are suffering job loss, but remote work — specifically working from home — can bring with it a host of challenges. One being carving out an actual workspace. Also, if you share your home with a spouse, children, pets, roommates or a combination, there are distractions and again, space issues. If you have a home office or a spare room in which to create one, congratulations! You are way ahead of the game. But, if said room has been infrequently used or is neglected, now is the perfect time to give it a little TLC. Here are five ways to create a more pleasant and productive home workspace — even if that space is a chair in your living room.
- Locate: Find a quiet, low-traffic space that has a place to sit and a desk, table or something that can serve as a work surface. If that’s not possible, find a spot that already has those elements and declare it your workspace. Sometimes, that’s as good as it gets! My husband likes to work in the living room at a chair with a small side table. Check out these ideas from Apartment Therapy on squeezing a work area into pretty much any little nook.
- Declutter: Spend time cleaning and decluttering the area. Toss or store loose papers and any items that you won’t use repeatedly throughout the day, then wipe down all of the surfaces. If you are setting up in a room that works double duty, such as the bedroom or living room, be sure to clean and declutter the entire room. This will remove visual distractions and will offer an instant mood lift. If you need inspiration, Marie Kondo, Becoming Minimalist and Real Simple are a few of my favorite resources.
- Decorate: This is the fun part. If yours is a dedicated space, you can of course decorate it with a desk jotter, office tools (I love this locally-designed Alexa Pulitzer mousepad from Perch, Emilio Braga notepad at Sunday Shop and accent lamp from Eclectic Home) and a few personal items, such as a family photo and objets d’art. If you are making do with a chair and side table, a coaster for coffee, water (stay hydrated!) or a cocktail (who am I to judge?), stack of books and decorative items that inspire creativity, but aren’t distracting and will still look at home in the room when you aren’t working are all good choices.
- Oxygenate: Plants are attractive, and, more importantly they generate oxygen and improve indoor air quality. If you have a brown thumb, go with easy-to-maintain plants, such as succulents and cacti. Fait NOLA recently launched home delivery and can advise you on the best plants for your needs and abilities.
- Diffuse and Infuse: Once a room is pulled together, the pièce de résistance, in my opinion, is a magical fragrance. Use diffusers, incense, candles or a combo to elevate your workspace and your mood. Here are a few of my favorites: The divine-smelling Mathilde M diffuser in Marquise at Relish; Sustainably-harvested palo santo from Potence Collective. The Restore candle, locally made by Goods that Matter, which raises funds for myriad charities and causes. This candle benefits the RESTORE the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. Also, I consider music an essential element in the ambiance of our home. LA-native and former New Orleanian Lucinda Williams has an album dropping April 24. In her honor, my husband and I created a playlist of songs in which Williams sings about Louisiana or names an LA city in the lyrics. It has been on short rotation during the workday.
Work with what you have (reuse, recycle, repurpose) and, if you do have to buy new, practice healthy distancing and try to support your favorite New Orleans businesses and makers like those I’ve linked to above in steps 3, 4 and 5. Even if your workspace only has to serve you until the end of the shelter in place order, it will be a lot easier, more efficient and more enjoyable to get your job done in a functional and attractive space.
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