With the new shelter-in-place rules, I am now spending 24/7 in my apartment. On a normal day, I move from place to place — the corner coffee shop for breakfast, office for work, down the street for lunch, to the gym, etc. — but this routine has been disrupted now that I am in the same, small space. Now that I don’t have the option to leave, how do I make my small space work for my routine?
Trapped in Space
Dear Trapped in Space,
For those of us used to moving around, staying in one small space and maintaining a semblance of routine can be extra tricky. As our team has worked to adapt to “inside-only” life, we’ve developed the below exercise to make the most of our own small spaces. Try the below and see if it works for you!
To begin: first, identify your routine by listing out all the activities you do on a typical day from start to finish. Get as specific as listing things like, checking your phone when you wake up, making coffee at the counter, eating breakfast at the table, video vs. phone calls, etc. The list will probably be quite long!
Then, map those activities to the places in your home that they’ve been occurring in. In terms of space, think both about the room in and piece of furniture on which they occur. Your list might look like this:
For most of us, we’ll quickly see that activities tend to cluster in places, often our beds and dining room tables. While we love using space in multiple ways, the lack of movement between spaces can enforce a feeling of stagnancy or sameness, especially when you use the space the same way day after day.
To combat this, next try to “de-cluster” those areas and vary where your activities take place. Effectively, you’re mapping a change in your psychological/mental focus (i.e. activity) with a change in your physical space.
To mix it up, consider the following:
Switching Rooms: If you have access to multiple rooms, mapping activity by room is a great and easy way to change it up. Do you have a desk in your house that you can do work at instead of the table? Is there another table you can create a DIY home-office in?
Switching Vantage Point: Live in a small space? Consider something as simple as changing what seat you sit at your table or even you are sitting in the same space. Perhaps you eat seated, but work standing up.
For example, at your dining room table, you can consider having one side set-up as a workstation and moving to the other side to eat. With work, you can “decluster” based on types of meetings. Perhaps all your video conference calls are taken in your bedroom or focused work is done standing vs. seated at the table. Challenge yourself to switch places with every activity. These small moves are a physical reminder of the mental shift you want to encourage.
After you’ve done one room, go through each of the other places and repeat. When you’re done, remap your routine to places. As you go through this exercise, consider these guiding questions: “Are there any spaces in my home I am using for multiple uses? Could those uses be separated? Is there space in my home that is being underused? Is there a way to use that better?”
If you continue to find yourself with clusters, repeat the exercise. Soon, you’ll find you are better utilizing the space you have and once you put it into practice, creating great variety in space for your routine. If you feel this mapping is overly prescriptive, you’re right! Starting with my stringent rules is a great way to encourage a shift in behavior quickly. Try sticking to your mapping for at least a couple weeks. By then, you’ll likely find you are more naturally moving and using different parts of your space for what feels right in the moment. And that, ultimately, is what we are aiming to do.
Let us know how the mapping goes for you! We’d love to see how you’ve changed your interaction with your space via social @thelandinghome or via writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in #CreatingSpace,
Amac and The Landing Team