Change Up Your Work Environment

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I don’t know about you, but our house is starting to feel a little haunted. Not by ghosts or ghouls or anything – it’s more like all of the stressed, cooped-up, uncertain energy from the past six months has built up and can’t escape. 

And it’s definitely impacting my ability to work. I feel stifled, uncreative, and like I’m locked into a box. Even though remote work wasn’t new to me when the pandemic began, being trapped in my house all day is new to me. 

Before the pandemic, workdays were spent here and there – flitting from a coffee shop to a friend’s patio to the local bar to squeeze a few more minutes of work before happy hour. 

These days, it’s all home, all the time. And it’s taking its toll.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my office at home. It’s a bright (some would say retina-burning) shade of teal, and I have two desks to spread out on. Under normal circumstances, it feels like an oasis where I can focus, innovate, and be creative. 

But my oasis has turned into a desert. Somehow, my bright, beloved office is now where my motivation goes to die. It’s tragic, really. 

Lots of folks will tell you that the best way to successfully work from home is to have a “designated workspace” where you can settle into your daily grind. But, after months of this, I think the concept of working remotely is more variable and complicated than most people let on. 

Of course, it’s important to have a place where you can feel focused, relaxed, and ready to work. But, this place might not be an at-home office (gasp!). Here are some ways that you can push the limits of the “designated workspace” and find a remote work routine that inspires instead of stifles. 

Any Room Can Be an Office

When I was younger, it annoyed my (very thoughtful) parents that I always did my homework at the kitchen table instead of alone at my desk in my bedroom. But I liked to be where the action was!

I still feel this way, and while being shut up alone in my office can help me when I’m in deep-focus-mode, it can also make me feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the household. For lighter, more casual tasks, consider setting up your laptop at the kitchen table, on the couch, or in your sun-filled front room. 

If you have a patio, deck, or other outdoor space, don’t underestimate the power of a light breeze and some sunlight to get those creative energies flowing again. You don’t need to be in this new spot all day, but rotating between two or three rooms around your house through your workday can help beat those same-room-blues. 

Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade

Even if you have an absolutely heavenly, custom-designed home office, your needs for that space have likely changed since this time last year, especially if you’re now working remotely. I know funds might be tight right now, but these small investments pay off in productivity, happiness, and – yes – motivation. 

I can’t recommend purchasing a standing or elevated desk highly-enough. If you’re an antsy or fidgety worker (like me!), the standing desk helps you get out some of that nervous energy as you work. If you struggle with posture problems while sitting at a desk, a standing desk opens up new opportunities to straighten up and even stretch while working.

Upgrading your monitor size can also help with eye strain while working at home, and a good pair of noise-canceling headphones will help you hyper-focus, no matter which room of the house you’re in. 

Take some time to think about which upgrades to your workspace might help you enjoy it more. They could be as simple as some new lighting, a more supportive office chair, or a framed photo of someone who inspires you. 

Get Out of the House

Again, this might not be feasible for everyone right now, but if you’re able to leave the house and work elsewhere safely, DO IT!

When I’m at home, it can take me up to an hour to get down to work. I can just always find something else to do: play with my cats, chat with my partner, vacuum the run, eat a sandwich. But, when I head to the nearby coffee shop, I’m seated, focused, and in my workflow before my dirty chai is even finished being made. 

There’s something about being a new place, surrounded by other hard-working people, new sights and sounds that makes that first hour of work easier to get under my belt. (I’m sure that the infusion of caffeine helps, too!) 

Of course, always remember to mask up and keep hand-sanitizer nearby if you plan to leave home, and avoid crowded spots where people aren’t following good social-distancing measures.

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