Working From Home: Finding What Works

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kayla David and Sarah Kelly-Palmer of Family Service of Rhode Island. These two lovely human beings are experienced therapists and co-hosts of the “Be Well RI” Facebook Live series on Wednesdays at 10am. Through these conversations, Kayla and Sarah are helping kids and adults deal with pandemic-driven challenges that are affecting the way we live, learn and work. Our talk was focused on some of the challenges and opportunities that arise out of working from home.  If you would like to watch, here are the links:  

For those of you who prefer the abridged version, I’ve got you covered.  Here is a list of the most helpful tips I shared, according to some viewers who shared feedback.

 + Whether setting up your work-from-home space for the first time or re-booting one that doesn’t work well, clear the space and add in only what you need/ really love to have near you.

+  You might benefit from using different areas of your home for different work functions. The lighting and background in one space might work best for video calls. A lesser-used area might be best for focused work or more private conversations.

+ Eliminating your commute gives you bonus time in your day. Spend it doing something you really want to do.

+ Blurry boundaries can lead to burn-out. Limit your work time to the same number of hours as you worked in the office.

+ Set up ground rules with others sharing the space, like when you can be interrupted and for what reason.

+ Stay connected to co-workers with “Breakroom” video calls. Pour yourselves some coffee and catch up on what you are reading, watching or learning.

+ Be extra kind to yourself and others. You didn’t just change physical work locations. You have a lot more taking up brain space. There are more decisions to make, and those decisions are harder.

With some attention to detail and small changes, working from home can work better for you!

Become a LEGO® (Storage) Master: Ask These 6 Questions

How do I store all these LEGO® bricks?” As a professional organizer, I get that question a lot. As a parent of avid builders, I am living it right along with everyone else. 

To know what will work best for your space, you need a good understanding of where and how the building magic happens. These 6 questions will help you get some much-needed clarity about how to add just enough order to keep the creativity flowing.

  1. Who plays with the LEGO® bricks and sets? Be sure to involve everyone in the conversation. Kids as young as four years old are able to articulate preferences and thought patterns that will surprise and delight you. And they are also capable of helping to keep them picked up, so we want their ideas and their buy-in. 
  1. Where do they most often play with LEGO®? Whenever possible, it makes good organizing sense to store things close to where they are used. In common living spaces, storage ottomans let you hide LEGO toys in plain sight. Inside the ottoman, store the pieces in shallow bins to make it easier to remove them when it’s time to play. A coffee table with a shelf underneath works beautifully to provide both a surface for building with storage nearby. Choosing attractive storage bins for the shelf will keep it looking like adults live there too. If you want or need to store your LEGO® collection somewhere other than where it  gets used, playmats offer a surface (and sometimes scenery!) to build on, and you can roll them up to store. Rolling carts and small bins with handles also make set-up and clean-up easy for all ages and abilities.
  1. How do your LEGO® artists usually play? Some builders like to sit down, create something awesome, play human wrecking ball, and be done.  Others like to take a longer-term approach and come back to it again and again. If your storage needs include a place to keep works-in-progress, make sure you agree on a space that allows for that.
  1. Do you like to display creations? If so, I recommend using your vertical space. Floating shelves are a great way to separate completed builds from the ones under construction. If you already have a bookcase or shelves in your Land of LEGO®, designate a separate shelf or two to display completed builds. Or sprinkle them in between the photos and the books. It is surprising and fun to see them there, and it lets the builders know you appreciate their designs. Whatever you decide, stick to the boundary. When the designated space is full, it is time to vote something off to make room for new.
  1. What’s in your LEGO® collection and how is it used? This one has several follow-up questions to ask your builders to help you fine-tune the storage needs. Do they like to keep sets separate from each other? Or do they like to mix sets up and sort bricks by color or function instead? Do they (or you)  care about keeping instruction booklets? If it is a large collection, do you prefer to keep it all together, or can you store it in multiple locations? These answers will tell you how many containers you need and what size will work best.
  1. What does “cleaned up” mean?  Agreeing on this is important for meeting everyone’s expectations, so don’t be afraid to be super-specific. The plan has to be realistic and simple in order to be maintained. A popular one is: Everything Off the Floor. Simple as that. You also might agree that loose pieces need to be put away for the safety of little ones or pets. Once you have agreed on what it means to clean up the space, make a visual guide to help remind everyone of the agreement. A simple checklist works. If you have kids who are not reading yet, use pictures.

As kids (or adults) get older and their play evolves, you’ll inevitably want to make some changes to how you manage All Things LEGO®. No worries. Just run through the questions again, and you’ll know what needs tweaking to encourage creativity without the chaos.

Proud member of:

Institute for Challenging Disorganization
Institute for Challenging Disorganization
National Association of Professional Organizers
The Board of Certification for Professional Organizers
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder