For the past five years, I lived in a 500 square foot studio apartment in Queens. This may seem too cramped for comfort to others, but as a relatively short person with a small cat, I always felt like I had ample space to do what I needed to do from home.
That is, until the pandemic hit. My bedroom and living room were now also my office and gym. Being able to see my desk from my bed made it hard to sleep. That lack of sleep made it impossible to be productive.
My kitchen is separated from my living space, but I figured working out of that space would just leave me snacking all day long.
But if I kept working the way I had been, I feared I’d never get a full night’s sleep again. So, I decided to give working out of my kitchen a try.
I had to relocate some of the items on my kitchen counter to make space for my laptop, which ended up taking more time than I expected.
That put me behind for my morning meeting – but now that I was seated directly next to my coffee maker, I was able to participate on the call while making my morning cup of coffee. Things were working out already.
I had been hoping to see an immediate improvement in sleep by moving my office to my kitchen, but it seemed like this was going to take time. I woke up groggily on day two after a night of tossing and turning, headed to my kitchen and got to work.
By noon my lack of sleep haze had started to subside. I found myself looking over at my windowsill, which has a variety of succulents on it. This offered a welcome break from my screen but kept the temptation to turn on the TV at bay since it was in the other room.
By the morning of day three, I was finally sleeping better. I moved through the workday more efficiently, and found myself feeling more creative during brainstorm meetings.
As it turns out, there’s actually some science behind this. When you use a dedicated space to complete a specific task, it increases your motivation to complete it. Which is probably why sleeping, working out, working in and relaxing in the same space was not working out for me.
On day four I not only felt more productive, but my overall mood had been impacted for the better. As ridiculous as it sounds, I looked forward to entering my kitchen in the morning after I’d gotten ready for the day in the other half of my studio apartment.
One coworker remarked that she felt more enthusiasm from me this week than she had all of quarantine. Things were looking up.
Day five of this experiment fell on a Friday. Before I moved my office to the kitchen, Fridays had been my least productive work day, because by this point I had not slept well in four nights straight and was running on empty. I had even been in the habit of putting work off to complete over the weekend when I’d had a better night’s sleep.
Not only did I have the energy to complete all the work I had due, but I finished an entire movie without falling asleep in the middle of it.
I’d usually spend my Sunday dreading the work week ahead. This Sunday, I didn’t feel that same dread because I felt confident that I wouldn’t be sleep deprived and running on empty the way I had been before.
If you’re currently working out of a small space, I can’t recommend a kitchen office enough. It will do wonders for your productivity, sleep cycle and overall mental state.