Our regular life patterns have changed quite a bit these past few months, with many of us now working from home. But while our routines have changed, our spaces haven’t. We’ve been forced to find alternative uses for the existing rooms in our homes, with many people now working from the dining table, from a desk in their bedroom, or even from bed. A study has shown that as many as 80% of professionals work from bed on a regular basis. And while that may be tempting (and so incredibly comfortable), is it really a good idea?
Even simply working from the bedroom, in a designated work corner, can have its fair share of challenges, disrupting your sleep hygiene and turning a space designed for relaxation into a room where you are expecting to stay focused, driven and, well, awake.
Ready to be more productive during the day and get better sleep at night? Here are reasons why you should move your workspace out of the bedroom, as well as solutions, perfect for even the smallest of spaces.
A BETTER WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Physically going into work gives you resting periods at the beginning and at the end of the day, even if that time is spent in traffic or on a crowded subway train. Those important moments signal to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or that you’ve made it through the day and are now ready to move on to more home-oriented, pleasurable activities.
But what happens when you can roll out of bed 15 minutes before starting work still in your pajamas and must, just as quickly, move on to life chores like making dinner and folding laundry immediately after that end-of-day meeting? According to the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being more Productive, you may start feeling like you’re always at work if you don’t try and maintain healthy boundaries. This means you lose that soothing feeling of “coming home”, which may end up causing more stress in your daily life. It’s therefore important to create new routines through small boundary-crossing activities. Those could include:
- taking a shower
- putting work clothes on
- taking a morning walk “to work”
- making coffee
The goal is simply to transform “home you” into “work you”.
That boundary is even more important if you work from your bedroom—or worse, directly from bed—as you lose a part of your home that is meant to be relaxing, a spot where hanging out with a pet for a few minutes or doing a quick guided meditation may help bring down your stress levels at the end of your work day, getting your mind and your body ready for home time and separating the two parts of your life in a healthy way.
A DEEPER, MORE RESTFUL SLEEP
Technology can greatly affect the quality of your sleep. Most of us will scroll through Facebook and Instagram before bed. In fact, studies show that 35% of us look at our phones 5 minutes before going to bed, with 14% of us staring at a screen immediately before trying to get some shut-eye. But such a practice can hinder your sleep in drastic ways as the blue light emitted by your electronic devices can restrain your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your daily sleep-wake cycles. Experts recommend removing any electronics from your bedroom, including:
- charging phones
- reading tablets
Working from the bedroom or directly from bed will cause you to be using your laptop in the room, and probably even your cell phone, disrupting the calm and causing you to experience a less restorative sleep, which may then affect your focus, your productivity, and the quality of your work during the day.
CREATE A SPACE THAT’S SPECIFICALLY FOR WORK
Ideally, this would mean having a designated home office, but many of us don’t have the luxury of having an extra room at the ready. So where do you set up a space that’s designed for success? Try to find a spot you won’t always be staring at it once the day is done in order to really establish that work/life boundary. If you can fit a small desk or console table and a chair, plus have enough space for your computer, a notepad, and a glass of water, congratulations, you’ve just found yourself a new office space.
Think outside the box. Here are a few spots in your home that could potentially make great business headquarters:
- the entryway
- the laundry room
- a closet
- that awkward little nook under the stairs
- the window, with the windowsill serving as a desk
Change the layout of a room if you need to and don’t shy away from using vertical space with a standing desk or wall shelves if you’re short on square footage. The important thing is to create a small, practical surface that will anchor your work-from-home routine. And don’t forget to check how it looks on video calls! You may find that purchasing a backdrop, or moving to a hallway or a closet during Zooms makes you feel more professional, depending on where your space is located within your home.
BUT WHAT IF THERE’S NO SPACE?
If you’re stuck in a small apartment or condo, or are living with other people who now also work from home, it may be difficult to carve out a little space outside of the bedroom. But the good news is that it’s still possible to create a functional home office space in your bedroom, making you efficient in the daytime and allowing you to experience amazing restorative sleep at night.
The most important thing when working out of your bedroom is to take breaks, leaving the room or going outside, as being in the same room all day can make you lethargic. And make it your mission to hide your workspace as much as possible when designing the space, so looking at your desk doesn’t cause stress at bedtime. Hanging curtains that you’ll close at the end of your work day is a perfect way to separate the room and avoid seeing the mess, or try to conceal your office in a piece of furniture like an armoire with opaque doors.
If your workspace must be in clear view, make sure to declutter it every day as studies have shown that mess can have a direct effect on the quality of your sleep. You should do these things as the end of every workday:
- arrange (or, better yet, hide) all papers
- close and put away notebooks
- put pens, paper clips, and other tools in their designated spots
- return dirty coffee mugs to the kitchen
- remove all electronics from the space, or hide them in a drawer or a cabinet
UPGRADE YOUR BED
Studies have shown that the pandemic is causing an uproar in sleep disturbances, nicknamed “COVID-Somnia”. It is so incredibly important to take care of your well-being and mental health during this time and better bed essentials may help you get a more restful sleep, allowing you to cope with daily stress better. A new pillow, a high-quality mattress topper or soft bedding can help create a greater sensation of comfort, helping you relax after a long day spent working from home.
With the right home office setup, clear boundaries, new habits, and a peaceful bedroom, you’ll be able to work from home productively, while ensuring you’re getting a good night’s sleep, helping you face any challenge ahead. We’re all in this together!