Nowadays, having a home-based job has become a rising trend. This works especially well for parents whose children are still too young to go to school. The most common reason why parents opt for this kind of work is because they want to be hands on with taking care of their bundle of joy, and at the same time earn enough to provide food on the table and pay bills. Let’s face it, having a family is expensive and to have just one parent provide is out of the question.
How then do you manage working and taking care of your child? How do you still become productive, work wise, while being an awesome parent? There are several areas in your life that you can change in order to become more productive such as adapting habits and routines as well as making some changes in your environment. This article will tackle the latter. That is, your workspace and how to create a space for you and your job considering you have a child in the house.
What is an Ideal Work Area?
Before we can discuss how to create an ideal work space, we need to define it first. So what characteristics must a space have to make it conducive for work? We can sum up all that in one sentence. An ideal work space is one that is pleasant to all senses. What do I mean by this? We have five senses, right? Sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. If you are able to make all these happy, you won’t have problems with productivity as being productive is largely influenced by what you feel and think. If just one of these will have a negative feel, you’ll get distracted and productivity will be difficult to have for that day. Now to elaborate, what we want to achieve for each sense is discussed in more detail in the following sections.
Looks good to the eyes – Clean and Organized
Sight is probably the sense that you are most in touch with, mainly because it’s what you notice first. What you want to do with your space is to make it look good to your eyes. That means it should be calming and not have too much stimulus. You want to be able to let your eyes focus on just one thing, and that is work. So if you have a lot of stimulus in the space, your eyes will have difficulty focusing on what needs it. Hence, keep your space clean and organized.
Clean means that there shouldn’t be any trash lying around including little bits of paper, and organized means there shouldn’t be any clutter. All things must be tucked neatly in their specific corners and spots. There shouldn’t be any jumble of things piled here and there. Ideally it should look spick and span, spotless from dirt and trash, and organized.
How do you do this? Keeping it clean is no problem and is probably common sense, but how to make it organized is where you might get stuck especially if you’ve chosen a spot with tons of random things lying around like your kid’s toys which is found anywhere in the house. The easy and most common solution to this is to organize these things and place them in containers. The ideal and visually appealing containers are clear boxes that you can tuck away on your shelf or cabinet. Find a container for each item. Files and papers should go in a box or file organizer, and office supplies should have its own container as well. As for your baby’s toys, it should all go in one big box or are placed in several boxes, organized according to type of toy.
About cleaning, just keep a trash bin somewhere in your room. There, you can throw all sorts of trash that you don’t need. For files and papers though, you can opt to use a paper shredder so as not to have them piling up in your trash bin as well as to get rid of confidential information that you may have on your files.
Calming to your ears – Quiet
Whether you like rock music or classical, working in a noisy space will not have good results for you. Noise, especially unpleasant noise, will not only make you less focused but might even irritate you. Hence, your space must be quiet. The most ideal would be as quiet as a library but if that’s just not possible, perhaps mulled or minimal noise is enough.
The most probably source of noise in your house is most likely your children. So to make an environment quiet, work in a space that’s far away from where your kids are playing. Also, ask them to speak in monotone voices. Additionally, the same rule applies for all the other adults that live in your house. Silence should be observed while you’re working so aside from monotone voices, set a specific volume level that you can tolerate for all devices that produce sound such as music devices and the TV.
Nice to touch – Good Feel
The sense of touch can be fulfilled in regards to what it immediately feels. To be more specific, I’m referring to the chair and table. If you don’t sit on a comfortable chair and work on an unstable and jagged table, it can also affect your productivity and may have a negative effect on your body after work. Hence, the space should have a proper chair and a decent table for you to work on. Additionally, having a dirty space can also be bad for your sense of touch especially if you are very particular about cleanliness. So clean up all that dust and wipe all the spills from your coffee and keep your workspace free of that sticky gross feeling.
In regards to keeping your space clean, regularly wipe your table and vacuum every other day. Bring a coaster for your companion drink while working and be diligent in wiping off spills as soon as the spilling happens. If you don’t want dirt to pile up on you, do it regularly and quickly wipe off anything that has potential of becoming a sticky feeling on your table.
To achieve a perfect chair and table, ensure that you get a stable pair. The chair must support your posture so it should have a back to lean on. To make it more comfortable, you can get a cushioned one or get a swivel office chair. As for your table, in addition to being stable, the desk should be smooth and free of any creases. If there are, you can remedy that by putting something over it that’s thick enough. You can be stylish about it and place glass, but make sure to keep your child away from it, or just be resourceful by using a thick board to hide the dents and creases.
Pleasant to the nose – Odor Free
Our nose is very sensitive and is very particular with what it smells. Having a putrid odor in your space will most likely drive you away from it, so you won’t be productive at all. Keep your space smelling nice or have no smell at all so as to keep your nose happy.
To avoid having putrid smells develop in your space, don’t bring food in there or make sure to remove all food that you bring in. Make sure to let the sun in every morning to kill off bacteria that may produce unwanted smell. If odor still persists, you can get yourself an air purifier or use air fresheners like Lysol to do that for you. For the more resourceful, you can make up your own freshener by mixing baking soda and water in a spray bottle.
Suits your taste – Appealing
Finally, this last sense is not more on what your tongue likes but more on what you like personally, your sense of taste in terms of your preference. This means that your space should coincide with what you like in a space. It should appeal to your personality and taste in terms of architecture, color, and the like. It should also have a touch of your personality. Since it is a place where you’re going to be spending most of your time, having that personal flare will make you treat it as your own and a part of you. So you’ll become more comfortable working in it and you’ll be more likely to maintain and take care of it.
To do this, use furniture that is styled the way you want it. For example, use modern designs if you like modern architecture. You can also opt to throw in a few tiny things that represent your personality like printed containers or fancy pens. As for the color of the space, you can’t just pick your favorite but you can pick one that suits your taste from among those that are allowed. Ideally, you want the color of your space to give you energy and keep you focused, so the best colors to use are bright but not too glaring. Examples are pale blue, olive, moss green, light yellow, beige, and the classic white.
So now we have an idea of the characteristics that a work friendly space should have. How do we find a perfect spot in the house that fulfills all these? In my opinion, any area of the house can be converted into an ideal workspace. You just have to be creative about your approach.
When searching for your workspace, the key here is to focus on making it work friendly instead of pointing out why it’s not an ideal space. Here are some ways to tweak some areas in your house into a workspace.
Office or Study
If you have a study or office, you need not look further. This is the perfect spot to work on. It’s got a proper area to work on plus, there’s a proper boundary to keep your kids out. There’s most likely a door for your study, so close it if you don’t want your kids to bother you, or just keep it ajar so that you’ll still hear a little bit of what’s going on outside in case you need to rush out to check on your kids.
This might not be ideal if your kids are too young to be left alone to play, though. However, if they are asleep, you can work here but keep the door open so you can hear if your baby wakes up and needs you.
The next best thing to a study is the kitchen. The reason being you have a table and chair. Well it might not be a table per se, but a counter or island is good enough. Also, despite having all sorts of utensils and items around, it can still work as a great space for you if you just keep it clean. All you really need to do is clear a space where you can work on and wipe it clean. Remove any thing that you won’t use for work such as containers with food items, utensils, and condiments.
There is a downside with working in a kitchen and that is you are vulnerable to one distraction which you will have a hard time denying. What is that? It’s food. Yes. Food. So to make sure you don’t keep on opening your refrigerator or go looking around for snacks, eat beforehand. Or, whip up a snack ready for you to eat so that if you become hungry, you’ll just reach for it beside you rather than look around and waste more time.
Okay, perhaps this is the next best thing to a study, but not everyone has a dining area. If you do, then this is the ideal spot for you. The dining area is a perfect spot to work on. It’s got a table and chairs. And if you set up this area well, it’s painted with a warm color that’s perfect for a work friendly environment and just lighted well enough, too. It may even be beside a window which you could use as well. A window means there’s light coming in from outside and you get to be visited with a few rays of sunlight.
I don’t think there’s really anything you need to tweak in your dining area, unless of course you have things on the table. So just remove them. One great thing with this is that you can have your baby around on the floor or somewhere you can see him while he’s playing. To make sure though that he doesn’t bother you too much while working, place him in his crib or play pen. If you’re not pro fencing your child in a play pen, just put a bunch of toys in front of him on a good spot a few steps beside you and he’ll be busy doing his thing.
I did mention that any space can be turned into a working area, so a living room can be one as well. Just pull up a table in front of your couch and you’re good to go. Make sure to work with an upright posture so that your back won’t hurt at the end of the day.
What you don’t want here is the TV, if you have one. In order to avoid the temptation of watching TV, turn it off and unplug it. That’s not enough though. If you see the remote, you might still be tempted to watch some good old television, so hide it or place it somewhere far. You can hide it in a drawer or place it in your bedroom where it’s such an effort to retrieve the remote. You could even cover the television with a cloth if you want.
Just like the dining room, the great thing with working on this area is you can have your baby around. You can have him play somewhere beside you so you can keep watch of him while you work. Although having a child around while working is a big distraction, you don’t really have a choice in the matter. It comes with parenting and you’ll just have to learn to cope with it. But if you’re comfortable enough, you can opt to hire a baby sitter to keep your baby company at another area in your house. Of course, if another family member can play with your child while you’re working, you don’t need to keep him in clear eye sight at this time.
Other areas that you can work on are the bedroom and the patio. Just do what you would to the previous suggested items. Clean up and set up a nice good space to work on, making sure there’s a good source of light and something can support your back for posture’s sake. Keep an open mind and just remember the points that are needed for a work friendly space, and you’ll have no problem finding a good spot to be productive.
What do you do to still work with your child playing around the house? Share your methods in the comments below.