It occurred to me about a week into this shelter at home pandemic that I had more time on my hands than I had anticipated. Much like a large percentage of the country if not the world these days. So long to my slogan and words I tended to live by — “so little time, so much to do.” The “so much to do” part was alive and well. The “so little time” had gone away.
I had just moved out of my home days before we were sequestered and living in a condo on Cape Cod. With more rain in April than I could tolerate I decided to tackle the overflow of items in my home and begin organizing and editing what I had. Sounds exciting, right?
Here’s the thing — it actually was exciting. It was exciting to:
- See the energy in rooms transform having a different vibe before my eyes
- Find things more easily
- Organize items based on frequency of use — so they were at my fingertips and at the ready
- Put aside items I simply did not need or were redundant (how many grill tongs does a person need?)
- Discover items that I had loved but were packed away for aeons
- Imagine the potential of each room and redefine its purpose.
This last point, my friend, has been a game changer.
Not unlike many of you, my oldest daughter Chloe has moved in with me to work from home while this quarantine continues. Because she’s working from home I’ve made a few changes to make her feel welcome and accommodate her, but they are changes that I’m going to stick with and some that have been on my “meaning to do” list for a while now.
- Set your house up in zones.
My daughter is not being educated virtually during this time (I have no idea how people are navigating that challenge, although this tip might help them as well), but she does need a quiet place to work. The first floor of my townhome is fairly open with a kitchen, dining area and living room that’s set up in a L shape for some separation, but not too much. I actually think it’s the right balance of open floor plan meets separate spaces.
Because I had “set up” my office at the dining room table with just my laptop and phone for easy clean up — she decided to be on the second floor in her room. I could have easily moved my laptop to my living area where I have a higher coffee table to place my computer and that would have worked out well too. In order to avoid the remnants of a day’s work, I purchased plastic file containers at Staples and simply placed whatever paperwork I might have been working on in the appropriate folder that resided behind my sofa — out of sight.
- Utilize furniture pieces that do double or triple duty.
After the first week of Chloe working from home with me, she decided she needed a desk to work from. Fortunately, I had a small desk that was in her brother’s room at my previous home and we moved it upstairs to create her official office space. It worked from the get go and continues to work beautifully. So much so that I’m keeping that desk between the twin beds in her room and have eliminated two night stands (why would I have felt the need for two nightstands, I don’t know) and the room functions well for work and sleep hours.
- Eliminate what’s unnecessary in a room to have more open visual space.
Just as I eliminated the nightstands upstairs, it occurred to me that I had more furniture in these smaller spaces than was necessary. My living area has a sofa and a comfortable oversized chair to help balance the fireplace that is not symmetrical on one wall. I LOVE symmetry, so this was a tough one when I was styling that room. One chair was the answer. I did think that when others came to visit though it might be nice to bring in some lightweight chairs that could “live” behind the sofa, on both sides of a window. So, I bought them. They have stayed in that one place for more than five years now. I finally removed them and brought them to the basement for someone else to use in the future. The room looks visually lighter and brighter as a result. That got me excited about removing items on my kitchen counter, accessories throughout the house and the weight of these items is lightening my mental load. I love the way it looks too!
For me, I was gaining traction and momentum as I saw the changes take place in my home and it encouraged me to move onward. Set a timer, have realistic goals and do a little each day. You may find you’re more inspired than others so work on it that day and take a day off. Over time, you’ll be glad you took the time we have now to do these things. Think of how appreciative others will be when they can put the items you don’t need or use to good use. When quarantine is over of course. Be safe.