Amid all the Zoom calls and email threads, I sit in my makeshift home office staring at the dust collecting on the windowsill. We’ve entered into uncharted territory, yet every day looks the same. I started my career with a love of language, of words and of writing, but over the last few weeks these things I once loved have quickly become chores.
Carla DeSantis wrote last week that there is a clear and necessary distinction between required reading and reading for pleasure. We forget this all too easily when we spend our days with our noses deep in manuscripts, but it’s especially true when all our “required reading” is now being done from home.
In an effort to escape the inevitable black hole of pandemic-driven isolation and mental breakdowns, I’ve thrown myself into my work. But at what cost? The improvised home office I worked so hard to make feel inspiring and inviting is beginning to feel like a cage. Yet I refuse to be trapped by own mentality. It’s in trying times like these that I am reminded of how important it is to maintain balance in our day-to-day lives.
As someone who isn’t used to working from home, I realized what I needed most was to create distance between my home and my home office. Simple changes can have a dramatic impact. Here are some tips for separating business from pleasure in the wake of this pandemic:
Change the ambience
Adjust the lighting in your workspace to distinguish work from play. Try moving some lamps around; maybe light a candle. Try using an oil diffuser to transform your monotonous workspace into a refreshed one.
Rearrange the space
Space is limited right now. Make the most of what you’ve got by swapping out the furniture. Maybe you want to create a child-like setting and sprawl out on the floor with the couch cushions. Who cares — there’s no one around to judge you.
Find a new playlist
Streaming services are great at tailoring playlists to suit your mood. Try searching your preferred platform for “morning wake-up music” or “evening relaxation.” This can work as background noise or as a focal point for your wind-down time.
Dust off the journal
Maybe you’ve been journaling your whole life, or maybe this is new for you. Either way, journaling is a great way to separate your work from your worries. Write longhand and give your editorial conscience a break. Maybe you have some old gel pens lying around?
You’re not expected to be productive every minute of every day, but it can be tough to buckle down when the only available workspace is in your bedroom. Separate your working hours with small but noticeable changes, and you’ll find it easier to relax when you step away.
Remember, it’s never one-size-fits-all: how do you make it work?
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