Why I Stopped Working in my Bedroom and Started Working in an Office
Over the past four months I’ve been working three or four days a week as a freelance designer from my bedroom, and on the whole it’s been great. It’s hard to complain when you have the freedom to set your own work hours, stay in your pyjamas all day and take as many coffee/lunch/Netflix breaks as you like. To many people it probably sounds like the dream working situation. However I’ve noticed that over time I easily became distracted and started to lack inspiration by spending all my time in one room.
The spaces in which you work, play and rest have more of an impact on how you feel and behave than you may realise. It was a day I had not long ago that really opened my eyes to the importance of space. I got up at a reasonable time, made some breakfast, had a shower and started working at my desk in my bedroom. I worked at my computer up until lunchtime, made some lunch and ate it at my desk whilst watching an episode of a TV show. I then worked at the same desk until dinner time. So far that’s about nine hours sat in the same place, with only short breaks to go to the toilet, get drinks and make food. I then made dinner and watched a film whilst sat in bed (in my bedroom yet again). I didn’t leave the house at all.
On reflection I realised there were many things wrong with working like this. I was starting to feel lonely with no one else around. I was seeing nothing but the same four walls for hours on end, which hardly inspires creativity. And most of all I was blurring the space in which I worked and the space in which I rested. My mind and body didn’t know whether to relax or focus, and over time it became harder to get into the right mindset.
As a result of this struggle I asked The Belfrey, the church that I’m working for two days a week as Creative Media intern, if I could start to work full time from their offices, splitting my time accordingly between church work and freelance design work depending on the day of the week. They very kindly said I could.
I’ve been working from the church office for a few weeks now and it’s had a massively beneficial impact on my work life. Having an office to travel to that isn’t my bedroom makes working more intentional, instead of it being a blur between focus and relaxation. The walk/cycle to the office means I get to exercise and breathe in the fresh air each morning and evening, which has clear health benefits. The places and people I see on the way are much more inspirational than my bedroom walls. There are other great creative people at the office that I can chat to throughout the day. I no longer feel lonely at work. And when I come home on an evening my mind automatically knows that this is a place of rest, not work.
I know not everyone has the luxury of an office space. Some people are forced to work from their bedroom because there is simply nowhere else available. In fact that was the case for me for many years. So here are a few tips to make the most of working from home:
- If you can, create an intentional workspace away from the places that you rest. Maybe use a spare room as an office if available or create a workspace in the corner of your living room. Even physically dividing your bedroom into one half to work and another half to rest will make a difference in how you think about this balance.
- Surround yourself with inspiring and creative things. Books, artwork, colour, a window. If you aren’t leaving the house to travel to an office each day, you need external sources of inspiration to get your mind going!
- Set clear hours and breaks. Know when it’s time to get a drink or stop for some food. Take full days off each week to rest rather than working a little and resting a little everyday.
- Get out of the house! The weather may not always permit it, but going for a short walk or a trip to the shop can refresh your mind and wake you up.
Space is important. Create a conscious distinction between places of work and places of rest and you’ll be happier, healthier and able to work for longer.