Inside… IMAGE Magazine editor Nathalie Marquez-Courtney’s WFH set up
Giving us an exclusive glimpse into her work from home set-up, IMAGE Magazine editor Nathalie Marquez-Courtney shares some at-home office essentials, tips for managing procrastination, and how to separate business from pleasure once it's time to clock off.
Over her many years spent as a freelance photographer, editor and writer, Nathalie Marquez Courtney has become well used to the remote working lifestyle.
Since many of us whipped up a hurried WFH set-up as things first began to shift and never quite got around to ironing out the fundamentals of what our home offices should look like, Nathalie is opening up the door of her south-facing study in county Galway and bringing us through the essentials.
From anti-procrastination app recommendations and coffee routines to getting candid about the struggles of balancing remote working with raising her young child, read on for an insight into Nathalie’s WFH routine, interiors, tips and tricks…
What are some absolute essentials everyone should have in their WFH set-up?
If you work on a laptop, a second monitor is a game changer. When at my desk, I have my MacBook Air connected to a great 27” 4K LG monitor. Failing that, a laptop stand and separate keyboard are ideal, and help prevent that slow slide into SlouchLand.
Another must for me are good noise-cancelling headphones (I’m currently trying out Sony’s WH-1000XM5s and they’re heavenly). For photo-editing, I have an ancient Wacom tablet that’s still going strong.
What do you keep to hand on your WFH desk?
My desk is usually covered in several notebooks, SD cards, undeveloped rolls of film, tubs of Muji pens (no idea why I hoard so many), sometimes a candle and some essential oil (I love the blends by Ground Wellbeing).
Have you decorated your WFH space with any photos, art, or music devices?
My beloved mid-century sideboard is behind me, and home to a rotating collection of coffee table and photography books; it’s great to have some inspiration to dip into now and again. The study is south-facing, so there is also a hearty collection of plants scattered about the place, mainly succulents and cacti.
On the walls, I have prints from Irish artist Laura Buchanan and photographer Jamie Beck, and a tongue-in-check decorative plate from April & The Bear’s collaboration with Irish maker Paula Moen.
What keeps you motivated when working remote?
Time pressure is what usually keeps me motivated when working from home! My son is at kindergarten five mornings a week, so it’s usually a race to get as much done as possible before pick-up time.
How do you balance working from home with having a young child?
Quality childcare is what it comes down to for us; knowing our kiddo is happy and safe and having fun makes it easier for me to work and focus and having solid, uninterrupted work time means I’m better able to switch off once work is done.
The juggle is a struggle at times, and my answer to ‘how I balance it’ would often be ‘poorly’. The line between work and home is sometimes so porous that it can be hard to feel like you’re giving both the time and attention you’d like to and they deserve. I sometimes struggle with showing up fully as a present parent and not constantly trying to fire off a quick email reply or squeeze in a call while prepping snacks.
Do you have a particular at-home coffee break routine?
If it’s the morning, my husband Ben makes me a tasty flat white using beans from Calendar Coffee, usually in a lovely tumbler from Naomi Good or mug Galway-based potter Carly McCann.
After that, I’m fuelled by constant cups of Barry’s Tea – weaker and milkier than most Irish people would find acceptable – so there are usually several mugs scattered around the desk by the end of the day, as well as crumbs from the odd Kilbeggan Oat cookie – I’m hooked!
What is your go-to lunch to make at home?
My favourite lunch is usually leftovers from last night’s dinner; quick, warm and tasty. This week, that was chilli chicken ramen, spag bol and ‘picky bits’ from the fridge, including some St Ola’s Goat cheese on crackers.
How do you break up the monotony during the day?
To mix things up, I’ll sometimes bring the laptop downstairs and work or take calls from the kitchen table; the room gets nice light (and you’re that bit nearer to the kettle).
Do you have a go-to method of procrastination, and how do you get yourself back in the zone?
If I feel like I’m switch-tasking a lot and getting distracted, I’ll use the Tomato One Pomodoro app to get me back on track and make proper headway into a task. In saying that, I’m also a big fan of ‘Procastiworking’ and find that creating a melting pot of ideas when jumping down tab rabbit holes while researching something can something yield the most interesting results.
Do you have any tips for maintaining posture and avoiding back pain or eye strain?
I have an Apple Fitness+ subscription, and they have handy 10-min stretching videos that I turn to a lot, sometimes squeezing them in between calls.
How do you separate business from pleasure when you clock off in the evening?
Most days, I’ll manage to squeeze in some meditation; I have favourites saved from a course I did with the wonderful Jodi from Mama Sangha. They are a great way to connect with your body, flush your brain and transition from ‘work time’ to ‘home time’.
How does it compare to working in the office?
I’ve been working from home on and off for over seven years and have found that remote work can be freeing, but lonely at times too.
I love being on shoots, as you’re constantly in new places meeting new people, so often the balance between being out and about and getting some hermit at home time suits me.
While the flexibility and ability to manage your own day can’t be beat, there’s nothing like being together for collaboration and brainstorming. When working from home for long stints, I often find myself missing the idle banter and quick, spontaneous chats you might have had with colleagues.
Imagery courtesy of Nathalie Marquez Courtney.