Where to work when working from home

I’ve been working from home for close to a year now, due to the pandemic. One of the most surprising things that I soon discovered was the challenge of maintaining work-life balance. Although that didn’t seem very logical: I’m home full-time after all, so work-life balance should be a no-brainer. Not so much. Part of the work-life equation was figuring out where in the house would be the best place to work. This was best solved by trying out various locations. At first, I was taking my laptop to different rooms, exploring the flexibility that working from home (WFH) offered: on the couch in front of the TV, at the dining room table, on the back deck when the weather was nice. I was grateful to have options.

The settled-upon home workspace

But here’s the thing: the lines between work life and personal life are definitely blurred now, and this is a major theme of WFH that I and many others have discovered. And this includes our physical space. I realized that, for the sake of my mental health, it was important to find ways to keep “the office” and home as separate as much as possible.

The other workspace I sometimes used was a desk off of the kitchen, which a couple months ago, I decided to make this location my designated workspace. It’s not perfect, but it’s the most “office-like” and thus the best option. Although, I do end up wandering to other workspaces from time to time just to break up the routine ever so slightly. But for the most part, it’s important for me to not blur the lines any further than they already are! What has been your WFH workspace strategy?

Creating Space for What Matters

As Stephen Covey pointed out, ” The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Continuing to work from home (until further notice) has motivated me to clarify my priorities and creating space for what matters (hint: it’s not all about work).

Surprisingly, work-life balance, at least during the early stages of the pandemic proved a bit challenging. When working from home (WFH) full-time, it’s all too easy for the workday to blur into me-time. So, I had to set an intention to draw a clearer boundary between work-time and down-time for greater work-life balance. On the other hand, being commute-free now, I have more time to pursue my personal endeavors.

Having those outlets at the end of the day is super important, especially on those stressful and frustrating days. With that said, doing something fun or creative or athletic or mindful first thing in the morning is a great way to set a positive tone and mindset for the day, not to mention increase clarity and decrease reactivity. I’ve recently started a “10-10-10” routine each morning: 10 minutes of meditation, followed by 10 minutes of standing yoga (or stretching), followed by a 10-minute cycling class in the newly-created home gym. Mind, body, and spirit! I also make evert effort to end the workday right at 6pm so I can shift my focus onto other things like taking a walk, writing a blog post, journaling, catching up on my TV shows or the current book I’m reading, trimming the shrubs in the front yard, whatever it might be.

Work-life balance has always been a top priority for me. Not uncommon for an introvert, especially to have quality time for myself and away from the steady stream of meetings and co-worker interaction. WFH has presented both challenges and opportunities to achieve it. It’s been an education for sure!

I recently read an article entitled, “Microsoft Thinks You’ve Been Missing Your Commute in Lockdown“. After my initial chuckle (my commute is the last thing I miss), I read through the article and realized that the company is aiming to enhance work-life balance (via new features in Microsoft Teams) and encourage clearer boundaries between the workday and down-time. I give them credit for initiative and intention, but the bottom line is that since it means using technology, it kind of defeats the purpose of disconnecting, at least for me.

Another noteworthy article talks about Feierbend, the German word describing the time period immediately following the end of a workday until bedtime. In Germany, this time period is typically reserved for leisure activities to help create disconnection and a clear distinction between the workday and down-time. The article goes on to describe how certain working professionals are handling and adjusting Feierbend in the age of WFH, where, as many of us know all too well, the lines can blur all too easily.