How to Create an Impromptu School/Office Space
By Darla Jarvis
Like everyone else in the country, I was thrown for a loop when the Coronavirus flared up and the distance learning train came blazing right at me at full speed. In our quarantine household, we now have four children with full-time with school space needs, and two working adults with home office needs. My husband has taken over my home office for his work, forcing me to create a portable workspace that is functional for both me and my children. To top it off, this is a temporary situation for an indefinite amount of time. What?!! NO problem, I am an expert- I got this! Here are some tips and guidelines that will help you create an impromptu work/school/office zone of your own.
Keep Your Space Sacred!
As for my office, I had to redesign its function so that my husband and I could work in the same area. He has his area for paperwork and I have mine. I have my work zones and schooling zones and no one touches those zones. This way if some organizational problem pops up, we do not have too many people trying to create different systems. It is much easier to have one system that we are all working with.
For a person who will be doing work and playing teacher, you will need to make sure your workstation is near where your kids will be doing their work. Make your temporary workspace comfortable. Move office chairs to the new space or add cushions to existing chairs. Make sure that you have mobility. You will need to be able to move easily with the ability to help one of your new students and get what you need for work. Efficiency is the key; make sure you have everything near you. That might mean getting an outlet strip or moving the printer. I chose to have my home office as my home base if you will. I bring items out of the main home office one task at a time.
- Everything Has Its Place.
This is when organizational systems start to come into play. All paperwork and steps that paperwork might need to take, must have a space. This tip applies to both the office and the schooling area. Developing an organizational system is personal so if you have a specific problem or if you need help with anything, please feel free to contact me. Darla@personalspace.biz
For example, I have found that schooling paperwork was flying at me from all angles and I didn’t know when it was coming. My older children need to print all written and math assignments. These assignments need to be reviewed by me before being handed in. I developed a review/ proofing bin for them. For younger children, you might want to have a complete bin. All completed work needs to be placed in that. At the end of the day, you could go through it and either correct it, post it for teachers or file the paperwork away. Each student should also have a place for their subject books and items they need for schooling so that they can be put away when they are not being used. Adding a charging station to this area for Chromebooks, tablets, and phones to be plugged in is important as well. This will help keep an area clean which is especially important if it is serving as a dual functioning room like a dining room, family room, or play area.
- Keep It Simple And Easy.
All organizational and functional systems need to be simple and easy. I am a fan of baskets, bins, letter trays, and magazine holders. All items need to have a place where they live permanently in a filing cabinet, drawers, etc. Paperwork should only have one stop before being filed away. All office/schooling supplies need to have a home that is near the workspaces and is easy to access. Crayons, scissors, pencils, paperclips, tacks, rubber bands, and glue sticks should all have containers. For kids put them on a tray, better yet a swivel tray in the middle of a table. You could also place them in a common area on a small table where all children can reach them. This will make clean up quick, easy, and most importantly, kid-friendly.
- Have A Writing Space For Everyone.
Have a writing space of 18”- 24” at least, per person. Each student or worker should have a place that is theirs, where they can house the items they need to complete a task. This can be a spot at a dining table, a small table in a family room, a folding table in their bedroom, or a desk of their own. Keep your new students away from your desk, workspace or office. It is important to not sacrifice your productivity when there are other solutions out there. The exception to this would be if you have a younger child or a person needing more attention. You should have a separate writing place for them in your office. With supplies nearby that are easily accessible to everyone.
I hope this helps you and your family as you are adjusting to this new adventure. Having structure and organization helps everyone feel better, especially when everything else seems so out of control. Take small, simple steps to make everyone’s quarantined lives a little easier. Stay happy and healthy from my family to yours.
Written By: Darla Jarvis
Interior Designer and Project Manager