5 Ways to Reclaim Your Personal Space | Belo Medical Group

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Personal Space in a Shared Household

By Ysabel Vitangcol on November 19, 2020

Working from home used to be everyone’s dream arrangement. Imagine: no traffic, no nosey co-workers, no waking up three hours early to give enough time for lining up at the MRT. But now that almost everyone’s staying in because of the pandemic, we’re confronted with the realities of sheltering from home. When homes turn into the office, the school, the gym, and even a restaurant all at once, a problem with space arises. How do you maintain your personal space in a shared household when privacy is in short supply?

Whether you’re living with a big family, a couple of roommates, or your significant other, we’ve got some practical tips for you to reclaim your personal space.

1. Set expectations.

Architect and author of the Not So Big House Sarah Susanka specializes in the combination of architecture and psychology or how people transform any structure into a home. In an article from The Atlantic earlier this year, “Susanka proposed a non-architectural solution to problems of home design: Communicate.” This means clearly sharing and setting expectations with your family or roommates about how your group can cooperate to give each other the space and support everyone needs now that you’re sharing the same space almost 24/7. Clearly communicating your needs will also lessen misinterpretation and conflicts. It could be as simple as putting up an “I’m on a Zoom meeting” sign on your bedroom door, creating schedules for the household (especially when you want to divide the additional chores with roommates or when gadget-sharing is involved), or giving your kids the space they need to do their homework without any distractions. Every household is unique, so it’s best to talk with each other so you’ll know how to best deal with your situation. 

2. Eliminate noise.

This doesn’t mean shutting out everyone completely. It means enriching the space you have now so you can retreat to it when you need to. Never be ashamed to close your bedroom door when you need time to be alone (even for non-work reasons). Invest in good quality noise-cancelling headphones, so when you need it (like when your roommate is watching something you don’t like or when the kids are just having lessons too loudly), you can just get lost in your favorite jams, podcast, movie, or series. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even spend a weekend soundproofing your room using various materials that are pretty easy to get.

3. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.

Now more than ever, our bedrooms are pulling double duty as a resting place and a workplace. Invest in comfy sheets if you can afford it or you might even want to try those weighted blankets for added stress-relief. According to New York Times columnist Ronda Kaysen, there are several ways to make your room cozier, like  adding layered textures to your room, like a shaggy area rug or a giant knitted blanket. In the same article, Massachusetts-based interior designer Liz Caan suggests using natural materials because it ages well and adds character to the space over time. Light is also an important factor when it comes to making your room more cozy. Creative director for Urban Electric Company Michael Amato recommends using dimmers or avoiding fixtures with exposed bulbs, so you can achieve a warmer tone in any room.

4. Create a designated work space.

Most of us have turned our bedrooms into our office or classroom, so it’s best to designate an efficient and practical work station so you can still treat the rest of your bedroom as the sanctuary that it is and it should be. 

In an interview with My Move writer Danika Miller, professional organizer Shalae Price recommends the following: “You need a clutter-free space in order to focus. Use vertical space to store things whenever possible. Keep only the essential items on your desk. Wall pockets can be hung on the wall to store files and papers. Paper sorters on a desktop keep things separated and vertical, eliminating visual clutter and freeing up space to work.”

5. Declutter.

Now that you have more time at home (which used to be spent stuck in traffic), you can dedicate some time to declutter your home to literally create more space. Divide the collected clutter into items that you’d like to sell, barter, or throw away. Some items can even be repurposed to give it new life and new function in your home. Now that we’ve experienced back-to-back disasters aside from the pandemic, this might also be a good time to consider donating to good causes for the victims of Supertyphoon Rolly and Ulysses. Always remember that one man’s clutter is another man’s treasure, so don’t be quick to throw things away when decluttering. For a list of organizations to send donations, click here.  

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