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Making your workspace (and home school) more ISO-friendly

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Struggling to catch up on emails from the laptop on the couch?

We speak to interior designer Nadine Neilson of Journey Home for her tips to help you refresh your #WFH and home school setups to maximise productivity. 

A dedicated space  

You may not have room at home for an entirely separate office, but a dedicated workspace is a priority.

“I wouldn’t recommend you pick the ‘worst spot in the house’—for example, the daggy desk at the back of the dark corner facing south,” Nadine says.

“We want to keep your motivation up, so that you’re happy to go to this place every day. So a light, bright spot would be best.”

A comfortable chair with good back support is also key: “I would recommend putting cushions on the chair so you’re sitting forward.”

Limit distractions

Your space should ideally be away from distractions; for example the TV or the kitchen, to avoid being compelled to clean up or “just watch two minutes of the news.”

“Be aware of ‘two-minute thinking’ when working from home,” says Nadine. “If you’re saying ‘Oh I’ll just clean the kitchen or do the washing, it’ll take two minutes,’ all these tasks add up. You’ve got to keep that to a minimum so you have an effective workday.”

Let there be light

A good rule of thumb is if you can have a view to the outside world, you will be far more alert and productive, says Nadine.

“If you can’t do that, it’s recommended you face your desk to the room, rather than a blank wall, to avoid that “enclosed” feel,” she says.

“If you are working with a blank wall, put a mirror or photograph/artwork up to help you feel like you’re not just being ‘blocked.’”

Marie Kondo your desk

Clean your desk every night so when you come to work in the morning it’s a pleasant environment, advises Nadine.

“Having clutter around tends to clutter the mind, so keep things as tidy as possible.”

Set a strict schedule

Continue with the morning schedule you usually would set yourself for traditional office work, rather than being tempted to sleep in. Shower, get dressed (pyjamas don’t count) and make yourself a tea or coffee.

“I always bring my handbag to my desk when working at home to create the feeling that I have ‘arrived’ at work,” says Nadine.

“After that, I create a schedule for the week which shows in ‘blocks’ the time I need to spend working, the time I can have a lunch break, and the time I can generally clock off.” 

Nadine Neilson.

For the kids…

There’s no getting around the fact that homeschooling is tricky, but Nadine has a few interior tips to help create a more functional home school space.

  • “If your kids don’t have small desks in their rooms, the dining table is probably the best area for homeschooling multiple kids. Put a cloth out and set it up as a dedicated space for them so they can leave their books there. If you’ve got open plan living, it means you can usually still keep an eye on them there too.”
  • “Move some furniture around to define the space; for example put a rug down so they know that’s ‘their’ area while schooling.”
  • “For multiple kids, divide separate spaces with folders to create mini cubicles for less distraction. You could even use a different coloured table cloth for each child’s ‘section’ so they feel like it’s a fun, personal place to learn.”
  • “Think about temporary storage options. Places such as IKEA have a good temporary shelving range if you don’t have much storage, so that you’ve got a dedicated spot for books, folders and stationery and it’s not scattered all around the house.”
  • “Use alarm clocks to indicate recess and lunch, play soft music while working, and use a nice bright area with access to light, such as near the window. You can even put up their artwork on the walls temporarily. Making it a nicer space and adding structure to the day will make kids more willing to be there.”
  • “Prop up chairs with cushions since not many people will have multiple office chairs at home with good back support.”

Photography by Rodrigo Vargas. Styling by Nadine Neilson, Journey Home

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