If it is at all possible to have a dedicated office space at home, try to set it up (or move it) into a room with a door that closes. A physical barrier, particularly one with a threshold, helps the brain to shift away from a focus on work and enables us to shift our mindset to non-work spaces. If you do have a separate room or space, keep it tidy, clean, and free of non-work clutter – it may be tempting to put the ironing board and your roller skates in this room ‘for storage’, but this will act as a distraction and re-blur the line between work and home that is the purpose of the room. Be disciplined about your space on a daily basis, too. Just as we wouldn’t end a day without attending to our admin tasks (emails, invoicing, banking, client lists and updates, etc.) it is a good home office hygiene practice to do some or all of the following:
- Clear away glasses, mugs, and plates
- File away notes and attendant paperwork, and (if you are me) re-shelve the books that have accumulated on the desk during the workday.
- Try to work the same hours each day with 2 snack breaks and at least one longer meal break built into your schedule every day. Set up alarms on your computer or phone if you are not good at time management, and research apps that can help you organise your time more effectively if you need some extra help in that department
Rituals of time management, including breaks, clear-up and clean-up, and start/stop times will ease your stress and help you focus. A physically clean space is better for your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing. And the last thing you want to think about during a deadline or a Zoom meeting is cockroaches on your desk which were attracted by crumbs.
An end-of-day home office ritual may seem a bit strange at first, but this process becomes your ‘commute’ into personal time; to say nothing of the pleasure you will feel on entering your office the next day to see a clean, welcoming space. Tidy spaces are visually restful, and we need as much calm in our lives as we can cultivate right now – try it for a fortnight and see.
The pop-up home office
I personally like a big mug for a hot drink when working, but pick a cup or mug that suits your personality and makes you feel good while working.