My bed and my laptop should not be in the same vicinity.
Science supports this notion. There are exceptions, of course. Watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows and HBO Max originals? Perfectly acceptable. Writing short stories while sunlight slips past my window blinds? Yeah, if I have my personalized mug of tea and the mood is right, this is fine too. Editing a slide deck with over a hundred pages for a group presentation due in four hours? Absolutely not.
We all deserve rest. Our bodies aren’t meant to act as automated machines that can function for hours on end without complaint.
I don’t think this distinction would have been so important if not for all the online classes I’ve taken throughout these past three years. A space that only knew me at rest transformed into one that had to watch me at work. At first, I was blinded by the ease of convenience. The only factor that could cause tardiness was sleeping in. Most of the things I craved were an arm's reach away, and most importantly, my bed was so close. I could lay down and wrap myself in covers immediately. Sometimes I did this simultaneously.
So, where did the disillusion start?
You know that saying older folks love to use to express urgency? “Time is of the essence,” and all things related. This tangent is important, I promise. Time — not by a matter of seconds or minutes or hours — is relevant. Where I am in space and time sways my perception of work and leisure. If it were summer, I would be content staying in bed all day, especially if there were no (stressful) responsibilities that I would have to take into account. I could read in bed, stroll around the house, and cook whenever it suits me. All without urgency. But I’m in the middle of the fall quarter as an undergraduate student. Midterms have set the level of difficulty for the remaining weeks, assignments are due, and finals are practically every day. If I'm not sleeping, my time is better spent working. I would feel nothing but guilt if I were to “take it easy.”
And I do have my own gripes with that: We all deserve rest. Our bodies aren’t meant to act as automated machines that can function for hours on end without complaint.
Back to my main point, I’ve found that it isn’t very sustainable for me to work in my home. If my depressive table full of clothes is any indication (for some of you, it might be laundry stacked on a chair or dishes piling in the sink), the best course of action is as simple as choosing a new scenery as my dedicated workplace.
No, really, it’s as simple as that.
In the same way that my mental health drastically improves after cleaning my apartment, escaping the confines of the same four walls puts me in a better mood. Coming to terms with the fact that I need that separation at all is kind of dull but no less motivating. There’s a reason this all works for me: I’m the academic type. Not a scholar with a capital S, but a scholar as in academic validation and academia aesthetics are some of my main motivators. Self-care is about the things that make you feel good, whether that be outward or inward, and I am not opposed to admitting that living out the routine of a student straight out of a silent literary fiction novel is pleasant enough for me.
I’m not a character or boiled down to the characteristics of an aesthetic. I am just a girl who feels fulfilled after coming home from a long day of work. Without the guilt! I bask in the atmosphere of cafes: lulling conversation, the smell of coffee grounds, and my own iced matcha or water to keep me refreshed. Even the silent hum of libraries, being surrounded by books and like-minded people—in the sense that we all have something to turn in at midnight. I plug in my laptop and turn on the perfect studying playlist, fully immersed to the point that I don’t notice the sunset. In terms of productivity, I always get more work done when I station myself somewhere different. Why would I want to associate my bed with essays and spreadsheets, and presentations? It’ll be there when I get home for its intended purpose: me, finally at rest.