We asked Barbara Meyer, author of several books on personal organization to give us some tips to stay motivated and organized during this period.
How did you manage the first week of confinement?
I felt like I was living in another dimension, or rather in a fish bowl! A bit like if I was a goldfish going in circles and looking through the window from time to time!
As always when something serious happens in the world, and especially in France, I feel useless and very stressed by the fact that I’m far away from my loved ones.
At home, we all operated in slow motion. It was a little bit like being locked in an apartment at a ski resort on stormy days.
I listened to France Info radio station all day, I barely checked my emails, and I was very anxious.
So I spent my week rolling out crisis scenarios. My first job was managing crisis communication for large corporations… so it’s easy for my brain to imagine the worst and then try to design strategies to limit the damage.
And how did you react?
In the second week, we set up a very precise schedule for the whole family including what everyone had to do and wanted to do hour by hour.
The idea was to achieve what we called “a return to normal”, focusing on the essentials. In two words, to have days when parents work and children learn.
As it was also necessary to integrate extra-curricular and social activities, we included sports, video conferences with friends, writing, art and also recess.
Recess time is essential because it is devoted to an activity that does not involve a screen. Recently children spend 3 to 4 hours a day behind a tablet or a computer to follow their course, whereas before, they spent only 30 minutes a day at school. Our challenge is to occupy them without a screen.
To facilitate lunch logistics, we have kept the lunch boxes. Children (10 year old twins) are autonomous at lunchtime and choose where they want to eat (terrace, kitchen bar, lounge, etc.). It’s their moment and our moment too!
What helps us keep up are the dinners which are less stressful than during school work, five minutes of meditation with the children, and the daily walk of an hour maximum.
After the second week, everyone is fine and everyone is back in a good mood.
When you find yourself at home, is it a good time to embark on a new activity? Gardening, drawing, music …
Yes and no! Professionally, I recommend developing your skills rather, taking advantage of online classes to complete your profile rather than starting something completely new.
The idea is to keep your mind busy and to channel your ideas to prevent gloomy thoughts.
I would rather spend more time on what you like, what you do well. Work on your identified and known talents instead of developing new ones. This will boost your self-confidence, fuel you with positive thoughts and energy.
For instance, if you like to cook, get into more sophisticated things. If you are a manager, take a class on leadership, if you enjoyed reading now is the time!
Why not see confinement as a transition to “slow living” where it is good to talk for an hour on the phone with an old friend, start journaling, spend three hours in the kitchen or create a new playlist?
But the activity that feeds us the most in this kind of situation is to feel useful. To be useful, remember it is first of all STAY AT HOME.
Being useful is not only helping the sick people.
But it is also helping your children and your spouse. When we are stressed, unfortunately our loved-ones become our scapegoat.
Instead, try to see this shelter in place situation as an opportunity to build unique relationships with them.
This crisis will, inevitably, lead us to change. It is obvious that we are going to change the way we consume, travel and use our free time. Our relationship with others, with the world, will change.
Don’t be in too much of a rush to disrupt your everyday life. Don’t be too demanding on yourself. Life is already rough.
This is concretely what I would suggest you implement in 5 key points!
- Create a schedule as detailed as possible with routines and family meetings to keep control of your ideas, stay calm and focus on the essentials. It mainly allows you to be organized so as not to feel lost or disoriented, but above all it leaves as little space as possible for unanswered questions. The objective is to remove as many unnecessary sources of stress as possible in this super stressful situation.
- Take control of time and of topics of conversation, especially with children. I know it is difficult to talk about other things but try! This is an opportunity to discover what your children really like, what they are naturally gifted for. Do they like to cook, sew, tinker, draw?
- Invite the family to the “culture of feedback” every evening. This makes it possible to bring out what we liked doing during the day, to talk about something positive, and to talk about what we did not like in order to let off steam. Letting the emotions accumulate in the pressure cooker is a bad idea!
- Switch to writing emails rather than just “video conferencing”. This tip is valid for children who then work on their writing and “typing” and for us also adults. We are less negative and catastrophic through writing than oral communication.
For example, ask your children to send an email to a family member or close friend to tell them about their day.
- Keep your touch of madness! Turn on the music, dance, dress up, do a spa at home with a bath, massage,… Have fun!
Barbara Meyer is a Human Resources Consultant, Performance Coach,
– Author of fourbooks personal developmentat Éditions Eyrolles,
– Instructor Udemy on time management, burn-out prevention, and team management.
– Columnist for the magazine femininbio, and for the podcast Tech Me To The Moon
– Former physical trainer and Pilates instructor
Resources Special COVID-19
– LunchBox: check Teuko website for ideas
– Working out from home with selected online coaches
– Meditation: “Calm and attentive like a frog“. Great time for a snack that I try to make greedy, creative and above all inclusive. The girls decide and prepare the snack according to what is available in the fridge.
And there is a cake preparation time between 9:00 am and 9:45 am on Tuesday and Thursday.
You have questions, need help get organized or share your good ideas, send an email to contact @ mercisf.com, we will forward.
Merci Barbara Meyer