There’s One Room You Should Avoid From 9 to 5, According to Experts
Convenient as it may be to ditch the daily commute, there’s a steep learning curve to working from home—from ensuring an ergonomically-correct workspace to figuring out how to stay productive when you’re surrounded by cozy, familiar things (including pets and kids). But now that many people are working remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s important to establish a routine of best practices that ensure you can continue to live and work in the same space.
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According to productivity experts, one of the simplest—and most important—ways you can do that is to avoid your bedroom during working hours. Why? Your room is a place for rest. If you bring your work into that space, your brain and body might associate it with productivity, which could make it harder to sleep. On the flip side, you might be tempted to relax or even doze off in your room when you’re supposed to be getting things done.
Jessica Borushek, a clinical psychologist, says the brain easily creates associations between experiences. “Whenever possible, creating boundaries between different aspects of your life can help to leave worries and anxieties behind when you transition from one part of your life to another,” she says.
A home office—even a temporary one—is the ideal scenario for focus and privacy. If possible, try to set up a separate workspace away from spaces where you need to relax and unwind. Consider spaces like a guest room, a basement, an attic, or even your dining room.
If you have no choice but to work in the same space you sleep—like, if you live in a studio apartment or there’s simply not enough room in your home for everyone to set up a workspace—there’s a solution: establish boundaries. One way to do that is to make your bed every day before starting work, says pro home organizer Ben Soreff. Think of it as a physical way to communicate to your brain that you’re in work mode, not rest mode.
You can also take things a step further by creating an official (and organized) work zone instead of camping out in your bed all day. Try room dividers or use office furniture, like bookcases, to put as much space between your “office” and your sleep sanctuary, says Soreff.
And while you’re at it, dress for the part. It’s tempting to stay in loungewear all day, but if you’re already in your bedroom, those cozy pajamas might prevent you from adopting a work-mode headspace. Borushek recommends wearing real clothes for work, including shoes, and not only for productivity’s sake. “If you’re wearing non-sleep clothes and shoes while working, it highlights a very clear transition when you take off your shoes at the end of the work day and put on loungewear,” she says.
Whether or not you’re spending all day working in your room, experts say it’s important to implement clear transitions when you’re done working. That way, you can truly relax in your home once your work is done. Establish rituals, says Sharon Grossman, a psychologist and success coach. When you’ve wrapped up for the day, turn off your computer, change your clothes, and go for a walk outside or meditate for a few minutes. Whatever ritual you decide on, the goal is to signal to your mind that it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself—something that’s vital to maintain a high level of productivity.