It took me a few days to write this post as I have been trying to adjust to the sudden enforced confinement we were asked to adhere to here in France. This new “situation” has been frustrating and at times scary, but I accept that it is important to stick to the new rules, so we collectively try to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus. In the meantime, life must go on.

At first, I felt thrown off my routine and frankly I didn’t know what to do with myself. Nevertheless, I had to push myself to create a routine and set new habits to cope with staying in. Fortunately, I have been working from home for years and the work routine helped me get back on track within days. To this schedule, I integrated things like working out, studying and cooking.

Cartoon: The New Yorker Magazine

I thought it would be good to share my learnings about working from home: simple tips that promote focus and productivity. Please consider this as a guideline that you can tailor to your specific needs and personal circumstances.

1- Allocate the right spotIf you don’t have an extra room that can be turned into a home office, then your next best option is to incorporate a workstation into the living space, landing or even the passage-way/hallway. Setting-up the workstation away from the bedroom establishes a clear separation between work and sleep – a needed division. If you are lucky, you may be able to place your desk by a window, à la “Carrie Bradshaw” and enjoy the outside view and natural light, however, if you are just like the rest of us (grrr), you may have to face a plain white wall. Fortunately, there are many creative solutions available to help you personalize your “office area”. 

Photo Credit: House & Home
Photo Credit: House & Home
Photo Credit: House & Home

2- Personalize and accessorize: You can express your individuality and personal taste with accessories, plants, postcards, flowers, objects, photos, own work, art or anything that inspires you to successfully meet a deadline. Keep your décor dynamic, creative and inspiring by regularly adding “coups de coeur” of the moment to your collection. Don’t just see it as a workspace. You will also need to relax during lockdown and a personalized space can also be a place of relaxation.

3- Establish a work routineDiscipline is key. It is important to set a daily time block dedicated solely to work and stick to it as best you can. Also try as much as possible to stay away from distractions. Personally, I feel I work better at home. It takes me less time to finish a task at home than in an office environment where I could easily get distracted by unnecessary interaction with colleagues and multiple coffee breaks and meetings.

4- Keep your work space tidyThis is simple and self-explanatory. Keep your desk tidy and clean before going to bed. Nobody likes starting the day having to clear up yesterday’s mess. Doing it every day makes it a sustainable habit. 

Photo Credit: Ideal Home UK

5- Practice self-careI feel that none of the above can be maintained without self-care. I invite you to check free resources, articles and podcasts, published by my husband Dr Nicholas Jenner, Counseling Psychotherapist, about coping strategies during the current health crisis.

From my own point of view, this is my idea of self-care: I work out every day for 45 minutes, I eat healthy, I try (as much as possible) to avoid snacking, I go to bed and wake up early, I keep in touch with my family abroad and I follow my routine as best I can. Having said that, I have had good days where I followed the routine easily and other not-so-good days where I felt claustrophobic staying in. I just take one day at a time. 

Inass J.

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