As coronavirus pushes more of us into self-isolation and lockdown, working from home is the new normal.
Getting work done at home is trickier than it sounds. There are new forms of distraction, it’s harder to separate work from rest, and if you don’t have a decent setup you’ll end up with a nasty backache from being hunched over a laptop on your sofa.
To take a look at the reality of home-working – and give us WFH newbies some inspiration – our new mini series, Where I Work, is showing you people’s home office setups.
So far we’ve peeked at the bedroom sanctuary of an intern and photographer, seen how one writer is working on a houseboat, and met a barefoot athlete who has no chairs in his home.
This time we’re in the home and studio of Sylwia Antoszkiewicz, 42, from Warsaw in Poland.
Sylwia is a style coach, stylist, and designer, who also runs a premium secondhand store.
Here’s how she’s working from home during the pandemic.
Hey, Sylwia! Where are you working?
I live with my nine-year-old son. As a stylist and coach I used to spend a lot of time in the city – at my clients’ houses, at the studios, photoshoots, TV ads sets – that’s why I decided this year in January that it makes no sense to live and work separately.
I wasn’t spending much time at a studio, neither at home – so I’ve rented one bigger place where I live and work at the same time. It soon appeared to be the best decision to make, although my friends were warning me not to do that.
Break down your working area for us.
I need to have a spacious place – clean and lean, with my notebooks, favourite pens (a little obsession) and a laptop.
But without flowers, art, scented candle and a coffee in my favourite mug, the day would not be called a good day.
Those little things keep me in one place and not distracted.
What’s a day at work like for you now?
We get up at 7.30am. At 8am we go out running – there in no one outside at that hour, so we do social distancing and get fresh air for the day.
It’s breakfast and shower tim’til 10am, which is when it’s the start of my work and my son’s homeschooling.
Lunch is around 1pm, then at 2pm I start video chats with my clients or work for my secondhand store, replying to clients, measuring things, order processing, packing, taking photos, etc.
At 5pm it’s a bigger break, dinner and time with my son. Then at 7pm I work for another 90 minutes and he has time to play before going to bed.
We are doing our best to adapt – time will tell if we were right!
What are your rules for working from home?
I’ve managed to separate the space – there is a space just for work, and the space just for living.
My first rule is that I never work in my pyjamas – I start only after I’m dressed.
And I never take work with me to my private space. It’s easier because the apartment is duplex, but believe it was not that obvious at the beginning!
My son says that now I don’t go to work – I go downstairs to work. As long as I’m upstairs, I’m home.
With little habits it’s easier to concentrate. When I’m ready I put my clock on for 45 minutes – like at school – so I work in time windows. After 45 minutes I have a break – for coffee, laundry, to kiss my son – the usual home staff. Then another 45 minutes, and that’s the system.
Working in the time windows is a big help, because working at home with a homeschooling kid is a challenge! He respects my time windows and got used to it after a week – he has his own plan as well.
What advice do you have for people new to working from home?
I think planning is the key. It’s so easy to go with the home flow like cleaning, chatting, watching TV, doing everything just not to do the thing you’re supposed to do. This little discipline is everything!
I try not to plan too much, though – it’s a trap! If you put too much on your plate you finish frustrated and tired.
Funny thing – looking back at my life before the pandemic, I have no idea how I was able to fit so many things to do just in nine to ten hours a day.
Now with my son at home it’s much less, but with the plan it feels just right.
I definitely recommend time windows – when the clock is on – I put my phone away and focus only on my work – it’s easier cause I know it’s just 45-60 minutes and then I’m free for making lunch, reading, or anything I like.
Do you have a snazzy home office setup you fancy sharing? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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