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Zu Anjalika

Separating Work And Living Space

It is important to know that the environment very much shapes the state of our mind

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

As if the universe has grounded and sent us confined to our homes – that is what keeps on ruminating in my head. For the last month or so, depending where you are located, working from home has become our new normal; even in professions that had never been considered before.

In my own household, we have me, running the news and user-generated content of a regional magazine from our dining table; the table, which had seen parties after parties when life was lots more mainstream. Then, in what used to be my office, on the topmost floor of our home, my partner of 13 years runs his multi-million dollar ship management department; entering and exiting virtual meeting rooms every so often. This was not our normal, say, two months ago. This is what the future looks like; the future that has been shoved to us way earlier.

Like it or not, that is a whole different discussion. At this point, we need to focus on what we are presented with, and the best is what we need to bring forward. 

The first step towards bringing the best work on the table is the space we allocate for it. Many assume that when you work remotely, you can work from anywhere – for example on the couch, while Netflix is spewing Money Heist. As much as that idea is appealing to many, working remotely requires more than just a sitting space, if you want to work effectively. It is important to know that the environment very much shapes the state of our mind. While not all of us are able to have separate space between working and living, there are a couple of things that you can do to create the illusion of that.  

The first way is to build a separation by way of décor.  For example, putting a long couch to section-off the areas of working and living. Another way is to have a little standing divider or line-up a couple of tall potted plants, between your work and lounge areas. The brain will then get a strong signal of putting in your best work, whenever you approach the area.

Setting some ground rules for the home office will ensure productivity further, so whenever, you step into the office, you will automatically switch into a work-mode. This also goes for the ten-minutes breather that you need. Walk away from the workstation; move over to other areas of the house. Having said that, the opposite is also true; do not take work to the couch in the evenings. Creating downtime in this period of working from home is imperative so there will not be any burnt-out feeling, when you go back to work in your ‘professional home space’ the next day.

It can be a little challenging to get some privacy, with the whole family being home. Getting distracted by the kids or noise from the television can interrupt the flow of concentration hence, it is important to communicate clearly to the family that you are not to be disturbed during working hours. 

Colours can enhance your mood or just do the opposite. Use rich colors when designing your workspace. A maroon rug, some plants, turquoise cushions – that will do the trick. As much as colours help to shift moods, so does lighting. Lighting can be a great tool to create a certain ambience in your set-up. Use coloured bulbs in your home office space. Besides a mood booster, it definitely acts as a cue to tell your brain that you are back in the office.  

One more thing I do to add an even more personal touch to my working area, is to burn a favourite candle. Not only do candles add character to your work area, some scents also help to stimulate your cognitive senses. My favourite is cinnamon; it gives the brain a boost that increases alertness and memory.

From the look of things, we might be confined in our homes lots longer than we think.  The only way to get through this is to go along with it, meaning adjusting our lifestyle to fit into this current situation. So, when the world opens up again, we know we have stood through this adversity with nothing less than utmost tenacity.

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Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is a certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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