THIS IS HELEN, A CONTENT CREATOR AT MARY YOUNG. SHE’S CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH CREATING ‘SPACES’ IN HER HOME. HELEN SHARES EASY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WFH SPACE FEEL LIKE A WORKSPACE SEPARATE FROM YOUR HOME WITHOUT JUST ADDING SOME PLANTS TO IT (ALTHOUGH PLANTS ARE A GREAT ADDITION).
It’s still a pandemic, and we’re all doing our best to keep each other healthy. Whether it’s keeping our masks on or social distancing. One of those things, for many of us, is working from home - if not all the time then at least most of the time. We may not all have started out with the WFH experience a freelancer might have but by now, I’m sure you have your way of carving out a workspace for yourself at home. I myself, have worked really hard on creating a little space and routine so I can switch easily into work mode! If you’re like me and do not have a designated home office, these tips might be useful to you. If not, I’m hoping by sharing what my must-haves and do’s are might inspire you to do things that make you love your work from home space (if you don’t already), whether it’s something I’ve suggested or it just prompts you to look into things you’d want to do that isn’t on this list. A lot of the things on the list can be used for any space you want to create. For these specific items I listed, I used the idea of creating a habit (refer to ‘The Power of a Habit’) to switch out my in-office habits with WFH habits. It allows me to be equally as productive at home. My philosophy is to do as much as I can to make my office corner feel separated and have everything that I need close to me so I’m not spending unnecessary energy making small decisions throughout a workday (those add up and deplete will power which makes it harder to do difficult tasks). These are also the ‘tools’ I use to help me create separation between my desk and the rest of my home – while making it a fun and refreshing space.
A Designated Glass (or Mug) For Your Morning Coffee (Workdays ONLY)
I loved going to work or hang out at cafes - and the habit only worsened during my working holiday in Korea where the cafes are abundant, always open and the ambiance is carefully curated. When I came back, as soon as I found it hard to focus at home I’d want to go to a cafe. I knew I couldn’t and needed to figure out a way to take the experience of a cafe into something that could recreate at home. So, I took inspiration from a cafe in Seoul that made all their drinks in unique vintage glasses and mugs - and decided to do that but on a much smaller scale. On workdays, I’ve been drinking coffee out of this very cute little floral teacup and alternate it with a small glass. I am keeping an eye on Hallowed Hauls and Luvewantshop in case any cute vintage glassware crops up – I wouldn’t mind adding one more to the collection. I feel like it turns my morning coffee routine into a thoughtful experience for myself.
Make a Wall Moodboard
It’s not a new concept though, I’d be lying if I said this is an original idea. I saw this on Pinterest, people are taping stuff up with Washi tape - what I like in particular is that the items can be anything! It’s incredibly customizable. I have a wall mood board in front of my work desk that consists of two polaroids, a photo my friend took, some artwork I made, dried flowers, and an empty coffee bag. It’s fun to look at, and because I’m used to it being my work background, I’ve started to associate it with productivity. The other great thing about it is if I’m feeling stuck, and looking out the window is not helping, I’ll spend a few minutes looking at the mood board trying to find details I didn’t notice before. It usually helps refresh my brain and I’ll be ready to tackle whatever I need to do.
Unique Ceramics to Hold Your Favourite Writing Utensils
Are you like me and have favourite pens? Well, I put mine on display and within reach in a ceramic teacup made by @em.esquivel, and next to it is an incense holder I bought in Gyeongju, Korea. I rarely put incense in it but I like the way it looks on my desk.
Switch It Up (With Different Light Sources)
One of my goals this year is to better my focus - as I was doing light research on what I could do to my environment to help one of the things that came up was using light as a way to train your brain. It’s something I had never thought of before - and you may already know, LED lights increase focus. Or in my case, bright light (sunny natural light, or bright ambient light) sets the mood for productivity. If it’s a gloomy day then I’ll use an LED lamp that I bought from IKEA. When I’m relaxing or winding down, I’ll light a candle, use my glow lamp, or any dim warm light sources. It’s been especially helpful when working from home because I’m in the same space almost all day it can be hard to separate or ‘turn on/off’. Manipulating lighting to create an environment that’s best for me at the moment is something that I’m very tentative of. It seems like such a small change but your brain notices - and it does wonders.
Hair accessories don’t necessarily do anything to the WFH space - but it’s a great way to get myself ready for work. The combination of thick hair and a pandemic hasn’t made my hair the easiest to deal with. Luckily for me and anyone else who shares the same sentiments - scrunchies AND hair claws are in, therefore everywhere. When it’s time to get focused, my hair goes up. I try to buy my hair goodies from local makers, my recent purchase is from AlexusProjects. I love the colours and fabrics she chooses, she also makes other beautiful goods including face masks!
If you’re working from home - chances are almost everything is online. This means carving out a digital space that feels good and helps you feel more productive matter too. I’m a sucker for apps that claim it’s a great note-taking app or productivity app - it’s just a lot of fun for me. But there is only a couple that I really do use. The first is Notion - once I took the time and overcame the learning curve, Notion has become the organized digital notebook of my dreams. Although I’m still finding that it could be better in some ways or maybe it’s me who needs to learn how to use it better (dm any Notion tips please & thank you). I love the way Rowena Tsai uses this tool and referred to her video when I was first learning how to use it.
For days where I feel like I just can’t stay focused and I’m too preoccupied with my phone, I use Forest. I’ve been using the Forest app for years now, I first got it when I was doing my undergrad but found it handier for busy workdays. Forest is a Pomodoro timer that “plants a tree” when you start a timer. Once you start the timer, it won’t let you leave the app (if you do it send you notifications warning you that your tree is dying). I like to do 120 minutes with 20-minute breaks in between. As the day goes by and I start losing focus, I lessen the work session to 60 minutes with a 15-minute break. That’s not the traditional way of doing it but it works for me.