An Abundance of Potions

Day 17 – Momentary Vessels

Good morning to all 229 readers. Thanks to those who've already sent in their songs of comfort. If there's one you’ve been listening to that has helped you through these times, just hit reply. —Jack

Today’s challenge: Re-evaluate your workspace.

A perennial challenge, even for seasoned remote workers, is the blurring of boundaries—the struggle for containment. When you work from home, every personal day has the potential to be a work day. And every work day can slip into the personal. The result is guilt—that you’re both not working enough, and working all the time.

When boundaries are too rigid, they can fracture from stress, leading to eventual—and sometimes, disastrous—collapse. When insufficiently rigid, though, they produce a different kind of seepage: a homogeneity of the spirit. Moderation here, as always, is key.

For today’s challenge, take a second look at your workspace. Consider where at home you’re now working, and what else happens in the same space. Are you taking conference calls where you sleep? Are you writing where you eat? Do you have to move your laptop out of the way, whenever you make a sandwich?

“Dedicate” is a key word. Ask if there is somewhere in your home that you can dedicate to work. Look for existing boundaries or thresholds that can serve to separate your work and home lives. It could be a different room, or even a different floor, if you have one. Separation helps creates a sense of crossing, a sense that you are going to work. And, when you’re done working, a sense that you've left.

Maybe you already have a desk, but it needs to be moved elsewhere. If space is a luxury, ask if there is perhaps an end of a table, where you can set up a work station. If you’re sharing space with others, see if you can find a separate, dedicated spot for each person. Where physical boundaries are not an option, lean on other kinds of boundaries—particularly temporal. Many swear by the Pomodoro Technique, which boils down to this: Set a timer when you start working. When the timer goes off, stop.

Remember: The best boundaries are neither too rigid nor too lax. They're supple, yet structured. They're just flexible enough, so that they can act as momentary vessels for the fluidity of your life.