Make time and space for everything you need to do at home

Sign up to receive the At Home newsletter.

Welcome. On a recent virtual visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, I visited the Thorne Miniature Rooms, a series of dollhouse-scale dioramas created by Narcissa Niblack Thorne in the 1930s and 1940s that represent dozens of “historic rooms”: one center new 19th Century York Salon; the living room of an old Cape Cod cottage; an English salon of Georgian times. When I look into these perfectly constructed rooms, in which eensy pewter mugs are hanging in the closet and the sunlight always comes in at the right angle, I can imagine how I can get out of my own four walls.

Whether we go to work or go for a walk, many of us these days spend a lot of time in the same place, with the same people – the people we live with and our own gossiping thoughts. Pam B. wrote from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to ask:

My husband is retiring at the end of January. My corporate offices will be closed, probably until June or July, so I work from home. How do you stay focused around the house when your spouse / significant other / children are NOT working and doing what they want?

If you want to get anything done in a coworking-from-home situation, you need to set boundaries for your roommates. Request a room as your office, be it an actual room or a corner of one. Worried about distractions from her soon-to-be-retired husband rather than from young children, for example, Pam can set working hours and ask not to bother about them during that time.

Of course, it’s also important to plan for breaks: “I work from 9 am to 12 pm.” Pam might tell her husband to stop him from stopping to ask where the flour is (he will no doubt be in the Leaven will be stage for a month or two). If you set a clear break time, everyone will know it’s time at 12 noon to step away from the screens and eat turkey buns, take a walk, or take a siesta.

And if you need to block out noise while you work, there are many wonderful white noise apps available to help you create the illusion of your own room. (Noise-canceling headphones are useful but can be expensive, and you might not want to invest in more things right now.)

Comments are closed.