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Finding your own self space

We’re living, working and isolating together. It’s a huge adjustment.

By Jo Dunbar

Many of us are two weeks into working from home, alongside partners, housemates and children. Much has been written and said about how to balance home educating kids with a demanding career but now we are in lockdown since Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday, it’s imperative we work out how to carve out some space for ourselves, even if we are bumping elbows at the kitchen table.

Pre-Coronavirus, it was normal to spend up to 12 hours away from our partners. Now, we’re at close quarters, and will be for the foreseeable future. Expect niggles to happen as everyone jostles to find a way make this new mode of living work. Emotions and stress levels are high but it’s worth reminding yourself that our current crisis situation is completely out of your control.

We are used to leaving the house and making plans to get some time to ourselves. Now we need to shift how we achieve privacy. You might be scheduling a House Party (https://houseparty.com) call with your girlfriends so allow your partner the space to set up a similar catch up with their mates, too. I’ve found the opportunity to get an early night, read a book and paint my nails relaxing while my husband has enjoyed the chance to binge watch Star Trek Picard!

While it might seem like a throwback to studying at university, working alongside house or flat mates won’t be very productive. Communications expert Lisa Hawksworth who is a Senior Consultant at communications agency Scarlett Abbott lives with two housemates and recommends that, from the outset, anyone working from home has their own space: “We all work in separate rooms. If your desk is your kitchen table, clear the breakfast dishes away and get into the work mind frame. Don’t cross streams – if you blend work with home admin, you’ll lose focus. The end of the day is the time to be social together, when you can have a glass of wine and cook dinner.”

If you live alone then Lisa recommends using your working hours to establish some human contact: “You need contact with other humans. It’s easy to go into castaway mode when you are working from home, but arrange regular face to face time, whether you have meetings via video call or FaceTime to check in with people.”

Monday’s orders from the Prime Minister means we aren’t at liberty to pop out for fresh air as much as we are used to. So now it’s even more important to schedule leaving the house, for a socially distant walk or run, or to buy food or medicine.

Our worlds are inevitably smaller right now as we adjust to the limitations being placed on our freedom. But creating your own routine and finding yourself a space to do so is vital now more than ever.

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