Learn about the importance of creating a designated workspace that is not the couch, when working from home.
- When it comes to managing time while working from home, your workspace is a powerful tool. It's the physical and the mental boundary that you create between work and your personal life. As much as possible, you want to keep work in your workspace and you, which is everything but work, in your you space. This is similar to the principle that I teach in time management fundamentals of everything has a home and no visitors allowed. Your workspace is the home for work and the home for everything else is, well, everything outside of that workspace.
I recognize that each person watching this video is going to have a diverse set of budgets and available space. So, I believe the best way to approach this is to first start with the ideal and then we'll work backwards from the ideal, helping you find adaptations that work best for you. The ideal workspace is a designated room with doors that's relatively soundproof and removed from the rest of the house.
This means it's not in an open traffic area. It's not close to the front door of your house or apartment. It's a space where you can close the door and shut everything out. Within this workspace room, you have many places for home, such as filing cabinets and stacking trays. You also have enough space for any other resources or tools that you need to perform the kind of work that you're doing at home. In summary, the ideal workspace is a home office.
Set aside only for work. Try to adapt this as best you can to your situation. I once worked with a real estate professional who couldn't afford to finish her basement. But she could set aside a portion of it by placing up temporary dividers to turn part of her basement into a makeshift office. But what if there's no way to find extra room in your house? Then designate a space for work and nothing else. I know of one manager who got an inexpensive desk that she could close when she wasn't working.
This removed the temptation to put personal items into her workspace, which is distracting. It also helped communicate to herself and people around her that when the desk was open, she was in work mode. The stronger the visual divider you can create, the better. You're probably not comfortable with marking the floor with tape to designate the workspace but at least mentally, create a boundary line around this desk. This communicates to you and others, when I'm in this space, I am only doing work.
When I'm outside of this space, I'm only doing other things. Create a clean separation in your mind. Now, what if you don't have a desk and you're in the habit of sitting on a couch or in your bed. I believe it's important to change that habit. Certainly, do not work in bed. This creates all sorts of sleep issues, which could hurt your performance in the long run. Doing work on a couch is usually going to create poor posture and makes it harder to make a transition mentally between work and your personal life.
Get a simple desk and a comfortable chair instead. What if you prefer to leave your house? Working outside can have its advantages. The fresh air and the sun can be refreshing. Just make sure it's a place that's dark enough that you can see your computer monitor and as much as possible, that you designate a specific workspace and create a boundary. Even if you're outside, putting a chair underneath a tree make that particular tree your work tree.
One last note. Some get in the habit of going to a local coffee shop or similar place to do their work. This creates the opportunity for a lot of visual and audible distractions. If you must use a public place, I recommend finding a membership in a shared workspace. Even a cubicle in a public library would be better assuming you're not making phone calls. These options allow you to better focus and remove distractions.
By clearly creating this workspace, you establish a boundary of stability. It gives you your headquarters. From this foundation, we will build all the other strategies of effective time management when working from home.
- Creating a productive environment
- Creating a balanced schedule
- Using virtual meetings
- Staying responsive
- Balancing roles as a parent, caregiver, and professional
- Managing interruptions and emergencies at home