More people than ever have been working from home for the past few weeks, and with that comes a whole host of personal challenges – be this co-working with a partner, juggling home-schooling, or managing our wellbeing and mental health.
If you’re struggling with productivity, motivation, or feelings of overwhelm, you’re not alone.
Here are five top tips for staying motivated and happy when working from home:
- Create your ideal routine
There is plenty of advice out there at the moment advising telling us to stick to a routine, but how do we know what routine we want to create without trying a few things out?
For some people, getting out of bed at the same time as they used to pre-lock down works. For others, getting out of bed a little later may give them more energy to be productive for longer.
Some people might love going out for their daily walk with their family over lunchtime; while others prefer a short stroll alone at the end of the working day (family commitments allowing!). If you feel like you’re constantly glued to your desk, this might be just the thing to help you separate your working day from the evening (work commitments allowing!)
Reflect on the most effective way to manage your time, write it down and plan your diary accordingly. Build in time for exercise (in or out the house) and create boundaries between the working day and your evening. This is important for both your mental and physical health.
- Stay committed but agile
Even the best laid plans can change. So, you may need to adapt certain parts of your routine; especially if you’re struggling with productivity and feeling motivated.
What is important is that you stick to all parts of your daily routine that you can control. If you miss your exercise due to work commitments, reschedule it rather than skipping it completely.
If you find your routine isn’t working for whatever reason, make a decision to change it; but don’t abandon it completely. The key is finding a routine that works for you most of the time.
For example, you may have added in a pretend commute to your daily routine, doing a 20-minute meditation or exercise routine to mark the start and end to your day.
If you’re constantly skipping your routine at the end of the day, you might choose to combine and do a full 40 minutes in the morning; if that works for you, of course.
- Disconnect when you can
It’s easy to lose focus from non-essential distractions when working from home. For example, notifications on WhatsApp or LinkedIn can quickly take your focus away from your daily tasks; so, it’s no wonder if you’re struggling with productivity.
Try to dedicate hour long chunks to removing all non-essential communication – whether this is through muting groups, turning your phone on flight mode, or switching off your Wi-Fi. Setting boundaries as to how people reach you will leave you feeling less scattered and more focused, meaning you will achieve more in less time.
Alongside this, write down which specific tasks you’re going to focus on during the hour-long switch off; and leave your personal phone switched off or in another room if you can.
You can’t remove the possibility of all distractions – clients or children may decide now is the perfect time to say hello; but you can control your own exposure to distractions that aren’t serving you.
- Stay connected when you want to
It can be hard to strike the right balance of staying in touch socially with those outside your home. If you live by yourself, but are usually out and about every day, you might be eager to book in regular FaceTime or Zoom catch ups with all the friends and family you would normally see.
Others who have full-on home lives, or enjoy the solitude of lockdown, may start to feel fatigue with endless invites to virtual drinks and catch ups. Know your boundaries and stay connected with who you want to, when you have the headspace to do so.
Be proactive at bringing people together and setting up a virtual pub quiz if you have the time and energy. But don’t feel the pressure to stay constantly connected to others if it’s causing you added stress to do so. It will only make you more tired and means you may find yourself struggling with productivity when working.
- Schedule in down time
Schedule in breaks when you can. Whether this is reading, watching TV, or having a social chat with someone. Try rewarding yourself at the end of the working day. This could be going for a walk and listening to your favourite podcast, playing a game with your family, or cooking your favourite dinner.
If you have the time and the inclination, you could try a new hobby during lock down; brewing beer, learning to bake or trying a new type of exercise through YouTube tutorials.
It’s definitely a challenging time right now; especially if you’re trying to motivate yourself when working from home. Focus on what you can control, and take responsibility to manage your mindset as best you can.
This doesn’t mean feeling happy all of the time, but it means being proactive at looking after your wellbeing, while focusing your brain on what you want it to focus on.