Have you struggled with claiming independence for your personal working space?
During 2020, many workers discovered the work at home model. No doubt, some welcomed it as fresh; something they had always hoped to do. Also, without a doubt, many experienced unexpected challenges, and outright impossibilities (three school age children at home and remote learning) to productivity.
In my personal case, I began working from home a few years back, but the time required sitting at a desk/computer was much less before 2020. Two things that changed that significantly were I started writing books in 2019 (more time in a chair) and with my other ‘jobs’, work became remote with Zoom instead of meeting in person. The virtual meetings logically should be no different, but they are because you simply don’t move. You don’t drive somewhere, get out, walk up a flight of stairs, or down a hall before taking a seat to talk and then repeat all in the reverse when it’s over. And, at least here in the South, you spend another 10 minutes saying your goodbyes after you stand up to leave.
Which brings me to my own quest for independence in a home office. How do I make this arrangement comfortable? Or perhaps more comfortable. Full confession, I have a well thought out office space in my bedroom and I was happy there for a few years. Until the fall of 2019 when I was working long periods to finish/publish my first novel, Shaw Point. Sitting inside a space the size of a large closet designed within your bedroom, gets claustrophobic after 10 to 12 hours of work that leads to 8 more hours of sleeping. Yeah, too much time restricted to one room of your house!
This realization landed me at my dining room table.
I love this room. It is large, bright, and sunny. It is a ‘feel good’ room. Unless I have company over, no one cares that I’m spread out on my large dining table. Now that it is 2021, family and friends are visiting again. This is wonderful! I love using this room for serving food and visiting with people. But, I have no where to work again!
I do not have my final solution yet. A few of my writing friends tell me they just carry their laptop around, including outside on the deck or patio to alleviate the ‘stuck’ in one spot quandary. Perhaps I need to learn to be more flexible but currently, I’ve resisted this concept because while I’m writing there are generally a minimum of 3 notebooks open and sometimes reference books or other miscellaneous clutter. And I think I need that near to work!
Alas, it seems my only immediate recourse is to return to the bedroom office. With that in mind, I’m dreaming/thinking of what could improve that situation.
The first is light. In my bedroom, the paint is a lovely deep green. I love the color and it is perfect for sleeping and dreaming. It is not perfect for working long hours, so I need to paint. I also need to brainstorm on task lighting in the actual office area.
The second is comfort. A new office chair is needed. Also, I need to tweak my standing option (I purchased a device that allows me to stand or sit while typing at computer). When standing I find if my screen is at optimal height, my arms are strained and when my arms are comfortable typing, it is an uncomfortable position for my head/eyes.
Finally, is inspiring décor. For some this may be no clutter, just clean, monochromatic walls, desk, floor, etc. But I need to view beauty. Something restful to the eyes and gives me a little emotional ‘happy’ when I see it. Fresh flowers are one thing that I do for myself. The trick is combining all this in the space I claim as my own.
I’m wondering how you’ve coped if you found yourself working exclusively from home.
Have you managed to claim your independence for a workspace in your home? Or is it filled with remnants of other people or other uses (like my dining room situation)? I realize my own quest is a work in progress and no doubt you may find yours the same, but I do think it is important, as we adapt to more work from home hours that we recognize the importance this small space has on our emotions, health (eyestrain and backaches are real!), and productivity.