October 01, 2020
How I created the perfect space that made my life much easier.
Spending time at home is my new normal. Being fortunate enough to work remotely, I've set up my home office in the living room and my cinema on Netflix. Plus, I've not only taken my first virtual yoga class, I'm now a total convert to online exercise.
It was that virtual yoga class that tipped me off: Creating the right space is vital for getting what you need out of any activity, whether that's your slow flow practice or a romantic date night in.
Although I purchased a few key items, I found it just as important to evaluate how I use my space and optimize what I already own. Here are some of my tips and tricks:
Replace Old Lightbulbs With Smart Lights
Lighting can mark the shift from focused work to downtime. Once I replaced my standard lightbulbs with energy-saving smart LED light bulbs, I could command them to dim or brighten simply by speaking — handy when I was already on my yoga mat and required a cozier ambience.
If you choose a product like Cox Smart LED Bulbs, you'll also be able to use the Homelife app to the set the parameters (by using "rules") for when lights automatically turn on and off, dim or brighten, depending on your schedule for starting work and getting ready for bed.
Bonus: When you're away or on a staycation, you can set those smart lights to turn on and off to simulate someone being home.
Separate Living from Working Space
I already placed my desk to face the wall to minimize distractions. So I went one step further by sectioning off the desk with a tall planter that blocked my view of the open-plan kitchen and living space (and the chores awaiting me there). You can also use a folding screen or small bookshelf for a similar effect.
To create a greater psychological divide between work and life, I put away papers and other paraphernalia after I clock out, so that work remains out of sight.
Move Furniture to Create New Activity Zones
As a cardio enthusiast, I now stream workouts at home nearly every day. So I decided to reduce the space taken up by my eight-seat dining table and push it against the back of the couch — creating a counter-style eating area that leaves more room for lateral lunges and jump squats.
Think about how you can use and move your furniture to make the most of your floor space. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an extra room to use as an in-home gym. Get creative! You can use your kitchen chair for tricep dips, your couch for ab exercises (YouTube can show you how) and your kitchen counter for barre exercises to improve posture and core strength.
Find Storage Where You Can
Well-designed storage doubling as something else has helped maximize my space while making it easy to whip out gear for various activities: yoga, weights, movie night and popcorn-making.
You might look for ottoman-style chests that can also serve as hallway or living room seating, or a shelf to section off your activity space. In my case, I customized my work desk by replacing one side with a trestle that now stores my yoga props.
Install a Smart Lock
Before the lockdown, I'd invested in a smart lock for my front door as insurance against my forgetfulness. My phone could get me in minus keys, plus I could check remotely whether I'd locked the door at all. However, when the time came for me to self-quarantine with worrying (but ultimately harmless) symptoms, I was pretty grateful I could unlock the door without getting out of bed, allowing my best friend to safely drop off groceries.
Smart door locks like those offered by Cox Homelife replace the standard deadbolt and can also be programmed to automatically lock at a certain time, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Boost Your Signal
Whether it was working remotely or video conferencing with my family, I realized how much I rely on a fast internet connection.
So I checked in with my provider to help evaluate whether I had the best plan for video streaming. An ultra-high-speed service like Cox Gigablast can juggle household needs like streaming while downloading, and video chat while someone else is gaming.
You can also give your WiFi network some TLC by repositioning your router high and central so the signal is optimal in each room — or even upgrade it. Smart routers like the Cox Panoramic WiFi Gateway gives you wall-to-wall internet coverage, and allows you to view and manage connected devices and pause wifi for dinner—all in a tap.
Smarter Home, Easier Life
After all, as we settle into our collective new normal, optimizing our space increasingly means optimizing the technology that connects us with other people — and the world around us.