Saturday, September 12, 2020

Squeezing an office in a small space

Like many people, I've been working from home since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the most part I prefer it. There's no commute, fewer meetings, fewer distractions. Plus, it's quiet, which I need since my job involves a lot of writing.

So instead for the first 4.5 months I worked on a laptop from the couch and kitchen table. The window views were nice, but the cats didn't seem to appreciate having to share the table (it looks out onto the birdfeeder and is their favorite window hangout). Eventually the lack of ergonomics took a toll and in early August I knew I had to make a change.But there was one issue--lack of a proper workspace. Because I live in the 740-square-foot house, I don't have the luxury of a separate home office. The spare room used to be set up as an office, but gets much more use as a bedroom. I didn't want to set up a desk in the living room, where I'd see it all the time, or the basement.

My new co-workers do not enjoy sharing their space.

I measured a corner of the spare room and it was big enough for a small desk. I shopped for desks online, but everything I liked in my budget was out of stock. Plus, I wasn't sure I'd like working in a separate area, facing a wall no less.

I went up to the attic and measured the old IKEA desk to see if it would work temporarily, but it was even bigger than I remembered. The boyfriend insisted it would fit if we'd rearranged all of the furniture in the room, but it was going to be a tight squeeze and that's what I'd been trying to avoid.

Office with bookshelf, desk and chair
Office circa 2007

Luckily I found another solution--my old kitchen table that first belong to my great-grandparents. My mom said my great-grandpa Gordon used to clean fish on it. So it's hardly a priceless antique, but I like it anyway. 

A table with two cats sitting on it.
This old table has been well--used for generations.

Luckily the boyfriend had already refinished and restained it, so it was ready to go. I repurposed a chair and rug I already had and--voila--a free work from home space. The only new thing I added is a chair pad, which was a gift. 

My new, repurposed work space.

It's advice we've all heard, but having a dedicated work space really has made a difference. It's easier to sit down, focus and be productive. Then at the end of the day, I can pack it up and leave work behind.

A large cat sit on the desk next to a laptop
Of course the cats still insist on "helping" me work at times.

Best of all, the rooms doesn't feel crowded at all and still functions as a bedroom. So if you too are struggling to find work space at home, try carving out some room for a small desk. It might be just what you need.


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