In our ongoing series of how the MACES community is coping with social distancing, Valerie Ndiweni gives her tips on how to build a routine that helps us manage our time and stay focused. 


Working and studying remotely can come with its distractions, from email notifications, family commitments, to social media alerts, and of course Netflix; how do you stay focused?

Valerie Ndiweni: Working from home definitely has a different rhythm. I start my day by creating and scheduling a to-do list. I keep my phone on mute when working on tasks while my calendar notifications help me stay on track. I learnt early on that it is important to stay flexible. Inevitably, things come up, it’s a part of life so I am working on being kind with myself (a work in progress). If a task doesn’t get done on a specific day, I reschedule and try not to beat myself up about it.

What do you miss from your regular routine?

Valerie Ndiweni: I miss seeing the team; the execs, Constantin, Fatme, Rajul, Moslem, Margarita, Miranda, and Wally. I miss the building and catching up with the students who regularly attend our events. I miss going to the grocery store without the anxiety, I miss not needing to make sure I have my own hand sanitizer all the time and putting on double disposable gloves before going into a store.

Is there anything that you don’t miss?

Valerie Ndiweni: Traffic! During normal times, my daily commute is about 3 hours a day so it’s great not having to be on the road right now.

Do you have any tips for SCS students on how to stay busy during social distancing?

Valerie Ndiweni: Enjoy it and make the most of it while it lasts! The circumstances are far from ideal…true, however, this is a great time to work on, or create a bucket list for yourself. Personally, I am a big goal setter, I have things I would like to accomplish while the social distancing measures are still in place and I am exploring what I want my new normal to be when we go back. I have a mix of professional and personal goals, but it’s important to have FUN along the way! I have been meaning to work-out my green thumb, so I am trying to grow my own vegetables. There are so many free online courses, events and activities for example the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has a few virtual exhibits and online art therapy that I strongly recommend. Last, but not least, stay connected with family and friends, call them, text, or video call.


Do you have a favourite book, article, workout routine, movie or TV series, playlist, or anything else to recommend to students?

Valerie Ndiweni: You can always watch the full Lord of the Rings Trilogy 😊who cares how many times you’ve watched it!