With the Pandemic going strong more spaces are coming to serve multiple purposes. My childhood home was no longer a cozy place of memory but a chaotic work-live space with five other people vying for the same resources. My apartment in Philly is no longer the place I go to relax and crash after a long day since I now spend my entire day here.
One thing I realized quickly was that both places needed to undergo changes to function for everyone. I needed to subdivide these spaces and practice new habits to make the most of my live-work space. Here are some of the following ways I have adjusted my apartment (and even my childhood home) for the past and upcoming semester:
- Each space has a defined purpose. Even if it’s technically all in one room each part of the room has been defined. In the case of my apartment I have a desk along one wall which serves as my studio and work space. My kitchen table serve as my creating space (for models, large drawings) while the kitchen counters are reserved for cooking only. My couch and mini folding desk serve as my lecture space, for comfy class and note taking. My comfy chairs by the window and bookshelves are where I can watch TV, take calls, and just unwind. My bedroom is for sleeping, exercising, and chatting with family. Back in my childhood home I did something similar. I had a desk in my room for studio class. My other classes I set up a bag with an iPad, a notebook, a charger, and any miscellaneous things needed for class and took the bag to the back porch or in the living room for a change of place. This was easy to clean up, store, and made changing work places possible.
- Each defined space is set up and left alone. I keep everything in a very similar arrangement constantly. This way it is ready to work no matter the time. It also allows me to leave things as they are without a ton of take down and set up every time I need to do something. This is much easier to do in my apartment but even at home I set up “kits” or “bags” of things needed for each class or task so I could pick up, move, and work.
- Set boundaries. While it’s great to have room to spread out and be able to assign different chairs and tables purpose don’t go haywire. In my case nothing work or school related is allowed to go into my bedroom. Not everything has to be programmed. Some spaces can just be.
- Have a schedule. Seriously, knowing when I start something and when I get to call it quits has really helped. There’s nothing more exhausting than not being able to walk away for a real break when all you’ve done is work on the same thing in the same space. Give yourself breaks, or even 10 minutes between changing set ups to refresh. This goes for work/school too! At night I completely shut the door to keep out computer screen light and allow myself a break from the set up in my living space. This boundary is also timed. At a certain time each night I close up shop and each morning I start up at the same time.
I understand that some of this advice is contingent on having lots of free space. And even space that isn’t shared. But this is do able even with five other people living in the same space! It really just requires communication, flexibility, and mobility.
Honestly be kind to yourself! Try things out, maybe one at a time, until things click. If anyone has any other suggestions for really pandemic proofing their work-live spaces for maximum livability and work productivity please share! I love to keep improving and hope this helps!