It's go time, Mama. Time to tighten that pony tail, grab the Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and step into your role as a MomBoss. Whether you work in or out of the home or do so for free (SAHMs, I see you Sister, rock on!), you are adding a thick layer of what the FLIP to your life this year and it's got your name all over it. M-O-M. You are now in charge of facilitating the learning of your child for part of, most of, or all of this year. I have finally accepted that although I wish I were sending my kids back to "normal school", that ship has sailed for me, as I was notified two weeks ago that we will be starting the school year off with distance learning in my town, due to Covid-19. That being said, I'm currently planning out my distance learning space at my home and wanted to share some insight!
I'm passionate about space and design. I truly believe that every space creates a vibe... an energy. A space evokes feeling & emotion and emotions are powerful when it comes to productivity and performance, among many other things. As we take on a new responsibility of supporting the education of our littles, I'd like to share my Top 3 tips for creating a productive distance learning space in your home that inspires, energizes, and ignites little (and big!) minds alike!
1. Add Energy with Light
This is the absolute most critical tip I can give you, hands down. Studies show that improper lighting can be absolutely detrimental to learning and work. I am very much textbook frontal right brained, there is no argument to be had. I intend on writing a post all about right and left brains and how they differ in thought and behavior (to dazzle and wow you...that felt so satisfying to use the word dazzle. It's been a minute- or like 18 years.), but for now just trust that I am about the most illogical, intuition-oriented, holistic, feeling-based, (often strange), aesthetic person you will meet. My mood on any day is directly related to the amount of the Sun in the sky. Yes, I am extra AND...
There is no doubt that natural light changes space dramatically and has a profound effect on mood, focus, drive, and energy level, yet it is something that is often overlooked.
As a Real Estate Agent, I always advise my clients on this very important factor, when they are finding a home to purchase, especially if they intend on working from home. I tell them to LOOK for light. Light=dollars in the work world. Studies show that working in dim lighting causes the eyes to be strained and can even cause headaches and migraines. Improper lighting can also promote depression and tiredness. You can think more clearly at a higher energy level with great lighting. When it comes to work spaces and learning spaces, the more light, the better. If you don't have a ton of natural light in your home, create light by using these tips:
Remove dark or heavy window treatments & never let drapes cover the window & block light.
Choose bright white blinds always. Never use ivory or color. In a productive space, we want to reflect and add light, not repel it. I actually recommend simply pulling the blinds al the way up and letting as much light in as possible.
If possible, create your distance learning space in the brightest room in your home
Don't just rely on natural light. Make sure every light source is replaced with quality bulbs, NOT fluorescent, as that emits an artificial blue light which changes the energy. AND TURN THEM ON! Lights off might be relaxing to us, but when we are trying to challenge our minds and learn, we don't want to be. relaxed. We want to be energized. Look for light with more natural, sunlight-similar tones to help.
FAVE TIP: Layer lighting! Add additional lighting to the space by utilizing desk lamps or floor lamps. Layering lighting adds warmth and depth to the space and sets a positive vibe.
2. Change the Vibe with Color
Another way to inspire, energize, and ignite the space is with color. It is a mood booster and a game-changer! The brain uses color to develop pattern recognition, associations, memory. Color also helps our brains retain more information. Choose colors that evoke positive feelings, but choose carefully. I recommend using bright neutrals for wall colors, like blues and greens, and adding accents, or pops of color. Don't get intertwined with too much Gray. That's a different blog for a different day, but truly, you can over- do Gray very easily. There are many ways to add color to your space yet the thought of it can feel a bit overwhelming to those of us who don't know exactly how to infuse color in the right way. Don't worry, I got you! Here are my top tips for how to add color to a space:
Toss some Throw pillows
Hang your kid's Art/ drawings/ paintings/ poems, writings, creations, etc.
Arrange table decor
Collect and display family artifacts (i.e. shells from a vacation!)
Display colored pencils
Hang a Wreath
Display Pieces from nature
Grow some Houseplants
Make a statement with a tapestry
Add dimension and vibe with candles
Paint and hang frames in crazy colors
3. Go Baroque for Focus
I love a good Trap playlist on Spotify. Do NOT even judge me... okay, go ahead and judge a little. I rock out. If you ever see my car, putting around Atlantic County, there is a 99% chance that you will see me dancing in my car or hear me blaring some music that you would never expect a 30-something white Mom to listen to, let alone on volume 107. But I was a dance teacher for fifteen years and for most of those years, I taught hip hop dance. I love music deeply. It inspires, it lifts, it motivates, it calms. Now catch me at home, and you almost wouldn't recognize me.
When I am working, I cannot listen to any sound with words. Right now, I am in a season of building my business, so for the most part, I work from home or the beach all day every day. I don't really do anything else, but work, from the time I wake up until I go to sleep. 100% of my work involves thinking. If it is boring repetitive work, I outsource it, so I can I get back to the thinking, since that is what is most needed in my role as a CEO who is building & scaling a business: Thinking, strategy, planning, taking action, measuring the results, adjusting, and doing it all over again is my every waking moment. So step inside of my house on any given work day. it is either completely silent or has reggae or ambient noise in the back. Or... I'm wearing sound proof ear muffs. NO LIE, Y'ALL!
In fact, my former assistant Alexis (now one of my talented Rockstar Agents) used to make fun of me, because she wanted to listen to Snoop Dogg, while we were working, and I instead choose instrumental trap, or classical jazz, or lofi beats, or ambient noise. (She's lucky I didn't put classical music on, but I knew better.) For the longest time, I thought that I was just ADD and couldn't handle more than one thing at a time, until I learned from a Neuroscientist about the affect of music on the brain during work and school. She explained that when doing creative work or work where a lot of complex thinking takes place, complex songs or songs with words that we recognize can be very disruptive to our thinking patterns. On the reverse end, if we are working on repetitive tasks, such as data entry, reps at the gym, running, etc, high energy music can help us focus and increase our productivity.
Booya! That totally explained why hearing any sound made me go completely off track and lose concentration, but it also taught me about sound and music for my children while they are learning at home. The wrong environment can kill their concentration. I began to do some research and learned that not only are ambient, nature sounds, and simple, down tempo songs good for a learning environment, but Baroque Music is said to pulse at 50-80 beats per minute and "stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms," according to Chris Boyd Brewer, "to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned." I love Baroque music, so it was an easy one for me to adapt. I started putting it on while my kids read and before long, they began asking me to put the music on while they did their reading time. The other plus is that music drowns out the outside noise, reducing distractions. How many of you know that a reduction in distraction never hurt anyone! Come on, Somebody!
Intentionally adding sound to your child's workflow is more than a little easy in 2020. You can buy an Echo Dot on Amazon for $29 with free shipping.) PS I linked it for you right there.) Hook that baby up to your phone and connect it to Spotify. Spotify has lots of great playlists under the genre, "Focus". Perhaps give them a try and see how they work for your child.
You don't need to have a complete classroom dedicated to distance learning in order to support your child's productivity at home. Just implement these 3 easy tips and you'll see not only the energy, focus and mood of your child improve, but your's as well! These tips are also great for home office space! If you are working from home, use these tips to maximize your productivity, mood, and energy. Until next time, Rockstar Community, I'm sending you peace, love, and good vibes from my home to your's!