I’ve been working at home for just shy of a year—and it took more getting used to than I would’ve thought. It took me several weeks to learn, for example, that I had to get ready in the morning as if I was going somewhere. Getting dressed (even if it meant putting on a different set of soft pants than the ones I’d slept in) and then changing back into my pajamas at night became key to dividing the day between work hours and off hours. So did getting a change of scenery (a walk before or after work, as though I was ‘commuting’ still), taking a real lunch break, and creating a physical way of dividing my home office from my regular home.
That last part is easy to do if you have a separate office, maybe. But in a very tight two-room apartment, this took a long time for me to figure out. (I’m still not great at it.) I’d spread out at our one table in the corner of the living room, then push everything to the side at the end of the day, so that my work stuff literally encroached on dinner and lurked in my peripheral vision all night.
When one space serves as both your home and your work, your relaxation space and your meeting space, your unwinding-on-the-couch and get-stuff-done space—and especially now, with many of us staying inside all the time—it’s both hard and essential to create a physical divide between work and home. As I’ve learned, if you can’t close the door on your office—if you’re working at the kitchen counter, say, or even on the couch—you can at least pack it out of sight when 5:00 hits.
Here are a few tricks for creating a mobile at-home office (and putting it away).
1. Office on a Tray
2. Office in a Drawer
3. Office in a Bag
Also helpful: Aha! Hack: 5 Smart and Surprising Alternative Uses for Binder Clips. (Hint: They’re great for keeping cords and chargers from taking over your living space, which they’re prone to do.)
N.B.: Featured photograph from A London Townhouse Designed to Catch the Light; photograph by Rory Gardiner.