Where I Work: Jen, the writer working from home with a cavapoo puppy

where i work: jen kaarlo
Jen works from home with a puppy by her side (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

Our new mini series Where I Work takes you inside people’s home office setups – as coronavirus and the lockdown makes working from home the norm.

We’ve peeked at the bedroom sanctuary of an intern and photographer , seen how one writer is working on a houseboat , met a barefoot athlete who has no chairs in his home , and saw how one mum set up a matching mini desk for her daughter .

Today we’re looking at the desk setup of Jen Kaarlo, 35, a UX content designer sexpert, and a writer working to create her first book. Jen’s originally from the US but moved to London seven years back. She’s living and working in a flat she shares with her cavapoo puppy.
jen kaarlo at work
She works as a UX content designer and writer (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

Hey, Jen! Where are you working right now?

Since I have a relatively small flat, there’s not tons of space for a full-blown working space but I have a desk and a few bookshelves stocked with lots of magazines, journals, and, of course, books.

I love filling the space with lots of prints I’ve collected while travelling and plenty of trinkets that always bring a smile to my face.

jen kaarlo shelves near desk
Little trinkets help make this a space where Jen wants to work (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)
prints on jen kaarlo's walls
Plus plenty of prints (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

Have you come up against any challenges while working from home?

Move over Rover! 45% of dogs sleep in their owner’s bed (we’re pretty sure a large percentage also hog the blankets!)

Except for a few hours in the evening when I’m writing, I’m usually always at the office so it’s a bit strange to spend so much time in one place.

In between constant news updates and an endless stream of WhatsApp messages, it’s been a lot harder for me to concentrate during the day with coronavirus in full swing.

Now that it’s been a few days I’m finding it much easier to break my day into chunks: start the morning with the most difficult tasks, make myself a big lunch, and then catch up on things like emails and admin tasks later in the day when my energy is struggling.

working setup
Plants are essential (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

What are your personal rules for working from home? How do you stay focused?

It’s unbelievably easy to sit on the sofa with TV on in the background, but it’s a trap… and you’ll end up watching two seasons of Brooklyn 99 without batting an eye. Sitting in an area near a window is a big win. Natural light, an extra monitor, and Spotify’s Daily Mixes are what help get me through the working day.
jen kaarlo's cavapoo
Hi, doggo! (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

Talk us through a working day.

Wake up begrudgingly around 8/8:30, make myself a big cup of coffee, take the pup outside for her to do her business, and come back to sit at my desk at 9am.

Stay consistent with training, play time and rest time for your pets so they don’t get too overwhelmed. Your calm and consistent demeanor will help your pet to understand that they can trust you. Once you earn their trust, understand the schedule, and feel secure in their safe place, both of your lives will be much easier.

The first hour is usually spent checking Slack, emails, and popping onto Twitter before a morning virtual check-in session. The next few hours are spent chatting away about a new project we’re working on launching, testing copy and designs, and building prototypes. Lunchtime can vary a bit, while I did a yoga class via Zoom earlier in the week, yesterday I had a virtual lunch date with one of my best friends and both were equally lovely.

The afternoon is usually cramped with all types of admin stuff and the small things that take up so much space on the to-do list. While I could work on these tasks for an eternity I find it’s important to set a turn-off time when you close your computer and take time for yourself.

interiors of jen kaarlo's desk space
Pretty, right? (Picture: Jen Kaarlo)
russian doll
(Picture: Jen Kaarlo)

What advice do you have for people new to working from home?

Mass WFH is new for all of us, and each day is an opportunity to make it a bit better than the last.

Start your day with your favourite beverage, make a list of all the things you absolutely need to do, work for a few hours and then take some time to get some fresh air or have a stretch.

And have a video call with some of your favourite colleagues or friends – seeing a friendly face in the middle of the day will do wonders.

Your dog needs his own cozy spot as well, preferably a crate, a comfy bed that’s his alone and a selection of appropriate toys.

Do you have a snazzy work from home setup you fancy sharing? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]Metro.co.uk .

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