Stuck at Home: How to Make the Most of your Time

in Brussels, Belgium


Here we are, most of us confined all around the world because of the coronavirus outbreak. If introverts are rejoicing and extroverts having panic attacks already, we all wish the situation to get back to normal as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we should stay safe at home. 

However, living at home 24/7 is not as easy as it sounds – it can be a real work/life balance struggle for those who are working from home, or a complete bore for others getting tired of binge-watching Netflix. Or maybe you already work from home on a daily basis and this doesn’t change your habits much. We’re also not all equal depending on where we live, if we live with a partner, family or alone, if we are stuck in a tiny flat or living la bella vita in the countryside with a huge garden where one can sunbathe during coffee breaks.

The main challenge I see when locked indoors is maintaining a good mental health and a high productivity level at work. Just like a lot of other people I’ve been in touch with since the beginning of the confinement, I’ve had fluctuating moods as to what I am feeling about all this. However, I am convinced that we can train our minds to be stronger and positive if we put some effort in (although it is okay if we are not so from Monday to Sunday). It’s all about perspective. Being forced to stay at home can be a source of opportunities. 

Here are some tips I have gathered to make the most of my time stuck at home. Not everyone is in the same boat but I hope they will be useful to some of you!


Set up the path to your productivity.

If you’re working from home, get dressed (and put some makeup on if you usually do). I don’t spend as much time as if I were truly going out of course, but it has proven its point. At the end of a week where I spent most of the time in my loungewear makeup free (as I thought it would make a real difference to my skin – it doesn’t), I was kind of not feeling it. I started a new week this way and so far, so good.

Create a routine and break it when necessary.

You will find comfort in getting your body and mind used to a certain routine every day, according to your natural rhythm. Wake up at a regular hour, whether it’s 7am or 10am. Make your caffè espresso or pour in your favourite green tea to kick off the day. (I don’t put my video on in online meetings taking place before 9.30am as I have developed a passion for eating buttered toasts while going through my emails and reading the press until this time since last week.) Apart from when my workload is substantial, I finish work at a regular hour to help my brain make a real difference between work and personal life day after day. When it comes to my evenings, I do different activities according to the day (have online aperitivi with friends, write, read a book, study for a course, watch Netflix, etc) so that I don’t fall into the daunting side of a routine. 

Set yourself a reasonable to-do list.

I love making lists for everything – that’s a fact – but making one to plan out my day enables me to witness my progress. Also, having small purposes makes me go through the day. Your phone's notes app is an excellent paper-free outlet to do so. The risk with making lists however is wrongly gauge the number of tasks or amount of time spent doing those tasks, which would end up making you feel overwhelmed. 

Workout. (I know.)

I was already bailing out of the gym right before the crisis; however, I recognise I feel much better when I exercise. I follow a 10mn abs, 5mn butt and squat workout sessions every other day, as well as a lot of stretching and yoga. It energises me and make the backpain due to stress or bad posture fade away. Apparently, it is much better to exercise a bit often than go for an intensive session once a week. Between a healthy diet - as we have more time to cook at the moment - and a bit of exercise, your summer body should be finally within reach. (You're also allowed not to give a damn about this last point.)

Disconnect.

I realised that, just like a lot of people, I was addict to my phone and the endless scrolling on Twitter to check the latest news. I can’t recall the amount of times when my brain unconsciously craved an instant of distraction and made have a peek at my Twitter or Instagram notifications, thus making me lose another 10 minutes of precious focus. Which led me to realise also how complicated it is to focus for real nowadays – in Netflix’s documentary on Bill Gates, I learnt that he would go and lock himself in a cabin for a whole week with no contact whatsoever to read, think and jot down his thoughts on paper (definitely mastering confinement). Not that we all have a cabin to hide away at, but we have the possibility to put our phone on mute and forget it in another room for 3-4 hours. I’ve been doing that whenever I really wish to focus or relax in the evening - not during standard working hours as I have to remain available at all times - and it has really helped since I don't see the word coronavirus 26 billion times a day.

Catch up with family and friends.

Whether it is via Messenger, FaceTime or another medium, keep in touch with your loved ones. As I live alone and that my family, boyfriend and best friends don’t live in Belgium, I’ve actually found the trick: have online lunch with different members of my family or friends every day. Lunch time is perfect for a break, as I might not want to spend two hours on the phone with several people after a long workday.

Buckle down what you've been postponing forever.

Deal with your unpaid invoices, finish the book that you liked but never turned all pages of, sort out your wardrobe. Or do something you never took the time to do, like thinking about your life (if you’re brave enough). You can also answer the Proust questionnaire if you've never done it - Vanity Fair covers questions here.

Take an online course.

As I am passionate about fields I haven’t technically studied at university (fashion and PR), I had been wondering I should not do something about it to gain further knowledge and get official recognition for it. Quite surprisingly, I found out that Kering Group and London College of Fashion made a 6-week course on sustainable fashion and the luxury industry available online on the first week of confinement here in Belgium. I clearly took it as an incentive to take the leap and jump! Any skill you would like to hone or specific information to dig into? Maybe there’s an online course for it. Incidentally, some universities around the world (including Ivy League) are offering free courses at the moment (check them out here). 

And you, what are you doing to make the most of the lockdown?
#andrĂ tuttobene


Photos credits: Pinterest

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