Healthy at Home – Make Space in Our Surroundings
There is quite a disparity in the home situation for all of us who have moved home to social distance. People in retirement centers may be in one room. Due to the close proximity, they’ve been secluded to one room, often all by themselves and without the technical advantages that some of the big families with several computers, televisions, gaming systems, and video communication software are enjoying.
Some of us have full offices already setup and runny efficiently from our homes, while others have become remote workers with a little table or in the middle of a heavily trafficked room. There is software, hardware, ergonomic work furniture, communication software and hardware, as well as sound and lighting considerations.
At the same time, many of us are social animals who just don’t spend too much time at home and use our homes as landing spots to refuel and run out again. These people may be going through a huge transition to not only get used to not being around people 24/7, but also making their space more than just a place to sleep and shower.
In addition to all of the stresses, changes, transitions, and expansions that have been imposed upon our home environments, many of us have found that we have more spendable time and are clearing clutter, adding conveniences, and making overall positive changes.
A home should feed the body and spirit of the homeowner by taking into consideration space planning to include fitness and relaxation, environmental principles to provide a toxin-free, allergy-free, and sustainable space, cultural factors to comfort the homeowner, integrate the environment, and harmonize with nature.
Physical solutions to good, healthy design include:
- space planning for uncluttered rooms
- allergy reduction
- toxin reduction
- broad ergonomic solutions
- universal design practice
- reevaluation of traditional rooms within a residential space that may include opening spaces to encourage family activity, physical activity, and discourage a sedentary lifestyle
- integration with nature
Making changes in the home, just like anything, takes evaluation of priorities, goal setting, and an action plan. Funny how it all comes down to that action in the end. Of course, if you have 6 children home schooling, or home for the summer and you are used to being at the office while they’re at school or camp, there needs to be decisions about who will teach the kids, who will work what hours, and where and how will we get it all done.
It’s great to have shared spaces and open areas, however, when it comes time to sit down and get your report written and ready to present, you will need a spot away from the action that has the proper lighting, sound control, ergonomic seating, work tools, and communication software.
Having a space for each person may not always be possible, but it is preferable. If you can’t have rooms, create partitions, rules, and make it as easy for each person as possible.
One of the first things that everyone did when they were sent home to work, was to declutter. There is something about starting a day of work in a clean space that helps to cleanse the brain of clutter too. It’s important to understand that everyone has a different tolerance for visual complexity, meaning that it may not always be good for us to go minimal.
If you’ve been living in an environment with a high degree of visual stimulation, you’ve adapted and it’s pleasurable. We aren’t over stimulated by “things” as someone who feels peace and calm in a minimal environment.
Some of us have been over stimulated at work and go home to a tranquil space. If that’s the case, you may find it difficult to adjust and get going in the morning without the visual stimulation you’re used to. Some of us look for more complexity to offer intellectual and spiritual stimulation.
People with attention deficit disorders will not have the same threshold as an individual who requires less time to comprehend and retain information. There is a theory that an effortless attention can restore the capacity to pay attention. Drawing ourselves to nature in our surroundings can be a great road to effortless learning and work.
Before you purge, determine your threshold and consider what you are used to and feel comfortable with at home and at work or school.
This is a perfect time to be mindful about what you do and establish new habits like seasonal review, organization, and cleaning.
Working at Home
Whether your office occupies one bedroom or an entire floor, the floor plan should allow for storage, workspace, and sometimes a meeting place. This is an opportunity to personalize and make your work space unique, productive, and functional.
Noise is a major consideration. You don’t want to be talking on the phone with a client or vendor and have dogs barking and your kids yelling in the background. There are a lot of clever ways to insulate rooms from noise with partitions and treatments.
Clutter is a large factor in loss of personal productivity. The office is not a place to gather clutter. It can create overwhelm and anxiety.
Just like in a large corporate office, one of the main design considerations is to promote spontaneous collaboration (not with a 4 year old.) Collaboration can be encouraged in a home office with the right kind of office software. Zoom, Google Chat, Glip, or even Facebook Workplace can be used to collaborate on a great idea within seconds of inspiration
Many home offices are a desk in the bedroom with a file cabinet and a closet. Home offices have the potential to be so much more than that. A well planned home office can function as well, if not better than any office in a corporate setting.
Make a list of everything you need to conduct your business.
Desks, chairs, worktables and chairs, meeting tables.
Samples, products, price books, industry reference manuals, books, office supplies, forms, and stationery. It all requires a different type of storage. Smart planning can make it all function well and still look nice. Bulletin, whiteboards, chalkboards, as well as paper organizers can be especially fun to work with and increase productivity.
Are you having as much fun thinking about putting this all together as I am telling you my secrets? There’s more!
Secrets and Tips to Save Money and Use What You Have
If you’re like a lot of people, you may have a hodgepodge of furniture from all over the place and all different decades. This can end up being the most spectacular office if you paint it all the same color to unify the look. Some of the most interesting office pieces have come from used furniture stores and repurposed. This serves a double purpose of being good for the environment. Have a piece of glass cut for the top of a big old library table and use it as a work space, desktop, or a meeting area. You can use dining tables or boards with file cabinets as pedestals. Once, I had a desk that was a huge boomerang shape. The top wore out but the legs were still good. We had 3 pieces of wood cut, stained and joined to recreate the same shape but with the rich, beautiful raw wood look. Then, it was big enough for a standing section as well as a sitting section and a meeting place too.
A home office can have work islands and special storage just like a kitchen. A local cabinet-maker can build one for you or you can find them already built as furniture. An island can be a sitting, standing, meeting, and work area too.
Every office needs storage. You can have walls of bookshelves, modular storage, shelves, and hanging systems. Credenzas and even furniture from your bedroom and dining room like armoires, sideboards, industrial shelving, bakers’ racks, and china cabinets can be used in a home office for storage.
A closet can be made into a little desk space. A correctly placed shelf for a desk surface and shelves, above and to the side, can make into a perfect little mini-office. The space under the stairs that is collecting dust-bunnies can be cleaned out and turned into a cozy little office space. It’s critical to keep a space like this light in color and to add some artificial light to keep from feeling “closed in”. Under cabinet lighting and a nice task lamp can solve this problem. Closets can be a nice place to hide electronics like printers, faxes, copiers, and credit card terminals. It can also hold forms, office supplies, and filing cabinets.
Chalk boards, white boards, and bulletin boards are perfect for your office at home. They hold notes, ideas, memos, art display, vendor notices, and can be attractive and contain clutter all at the same time. They can cover a wall, be hung on the wall or placed on an easel or art shelf. Closet doors can be upholstered or painted with chalkboard paint. Even an entire wall covered in cork or upholstery can be used for practical purposes and serve as acoustical privacy too!
- Keep office and home mail separated
- Set a time to start and stop working and work in your office only
- Don’t take business papers out of your office and into the living area.
- Label all computer discs and tapes immediately
- Keep business stationery at a handy location on your desk
- File daily
- Have a spot in your office specifically allocated for placing the things you need to take with you when you go
- Let the family know that your office is your territory only. Kids with gatorade spilled on keyboards and presentations don’t make for a happy home/work environment
- Don’t take your laundry into your office to fold while you work, home work stays in the living area
- Leave your office to eat
- Take breaks to stand and move around
- Schedule your day and stick to the schedule when ever possible
- Review how things are working out each week and adjust accordingly
Toxins in the Home
It wasn’t good when we were home from 6 pm to 6 am and had toxins in our home, but now that some of us are here 24/7, it’s even more important than ever to recognize indoor pollutants and eliminate them to provide a healthy living environment.
Indoor pollutants can be classified into five categories:
- volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
- toxic by products
- electromagnetic fields
- occurring natural pollutants
You can learn more about the pollutants by working with your health coach. Our program Healthy Home covers:
- healthy space
- visual complexity
- toxins in the home
- physical solutions
- spiritual and cultural considerations
- integration with nature
- aging in place
Your home can encourage emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness. There is no time like the present to turn things around and make your home work for you and your family.
- eat more fruits and vegetables
- Minimize stress
- wash your hands
- get enough sleep
- drink in moderation
- exercise every day
- eat at home
- list your gratitude
- keep it clean
- a good book is your friend
- plant your garden
- forgive others
- share generously
- learn something new
- HAVE FUN
- BE CREATIVE
- REWARD YOURSELF
- BE A RAINBOW
- FIND YOUR BALANCE
- FOCUS ON GOOD
- LOOK AFTER OTHERS
- MISTAKES ARE OKAY
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