Since Shelter-In-Place orders were given by many cities, counties and states in late March and early April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have already been quarantined together at home with your family or partner for some time.
You might have run into some challenges in working effectively from home and maintaining your interpersonal relationships due to these close quarters. I’m right there with you! So today I’m sharing some of my best tips for working and living together during extended quarantine.
Create Visual Separation
I live in a loft in San Francisco, which comes with even more challenges than for those who share a house or apartment, which at least gives you some separation by rooms with walls and doors. So my first tip for those living and working together in a loft, studio, or a single room is to create some visual separation.
In a bedroom loft with no operable window, by definition 50% of the wall area must remain open. My partner decided to build a wall, and created a large window within the wall to meet this requirement.
But what if you can’t do any construction? A quick solution is to install a drapery track and hang retractable full-length draperies. If that’s not an option, another easy way is to place tall plants, standing room dividers, or a folding screen to form a visual barrier between areas. For added flexibility, put your plants on stands with wheels!
Create Sound Privacy
Visual separation is only the first step. If you both need to be on conference calls or Zoom meetings at the same time, or one partner needs to sleep while the other works, sound privacy is essential. Using noise-cancelling headphones are key!
Wired headphones are fine, but wireless headphones will maximize your freedom and ability to move around the space without interrupting your call. Also great for watching TV or streaming movies while your partner works or sleeps. If you don’t like headphones, place surround sound speakers close to your head to minimize sound transference.
Keep or Establish a Schedule
Not knowing when things are happening can be a source of stress for people living and working in close quarters, so I recommend keeping a similar schedule to the one you had pre-quarantine, or establishing a new quarantine schedule.
Waking and sleeping at the same times each day is proven to be healthy for our bodies and minds, year-round. Having an established, set time when you’re going to be working and when you’re off the clock helps partners and children to be respectful of your needs, and stops those embarrassing video-conference background interruptions from happening as often.
Take Time Alone
Sometimes you just need some me-time. Before the quarantine, you might have gotten that during your gym session or on your commute. Now that those have been eliminated or taken a different form, it’s even more important to create time and space just for yourself.
A great way to do this is to take a walk (with a face covering and socially distanced, of course). Go to the park, around the block, walk your dog, or walk to the grocery store.
Another tip is to walk to your service calls or essential in-person work activities. Yes, you can still drive or use public transit, but why do that when you can be enjoying the fresh air, birds, and trees?
If you can’t leave the house, a good way to get some alone time is in your personal oasis, your bathroom. Make sure to let your partner know you’re going to be using the bathroom longer than usual, then light some candles or incense, dim the lights, and take a long bath or shower. Maybe read a book, listen to a podcast or some relaxing music while you use a face-mask or other beauty products. You’ll come out refreshed and happy.
Use these tips to make your quarantine life easier, and carry them over into your regular life, too, when you can get back to it. A happy home life makes everything easier!
Kimball Starr Interior Design creates beautiful, thoughtful spaces for home and work throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Nevada, and she can for you, too. Contact her today for a consultation!