Since the pandemic began, working from home has become part of the new normal for many of us. However, working from home with limited social interactions can leave us feeling rather unmotivated. This new way of life might continue for some time and it’s important that we explore different ways to keep our spirits up in quarantine.
Here are 10 ways to stay motivated when working from home:
1. Have a designated working area at home
Working on the sofa in front of the TV or in bed may not be the most productive choice. Instead, dedicate a space at home for your home office. This helps you get into the headspace for work when you enter your home office in the morning. At the end of the day, you can log off and leave your workspace.
Working from home has blurred the separation between workspace and home space. It’s best to make those boundaries clear so you don’t find yourself in work mode everywhere at home.
2. Dress up for work
One of the perks of working from home is being able to wear comfy clothes! But dressing up could help to put you into work mode more easily. It’s tempting to wake up 5 minutes before work starts and head straight to your workstation in your PJs, but you may not feel ready to start your day or motivated to tackle the tasks lined up for the day.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to put on a pantsuit and blazer at home! Allocate 20 to 30 minutes in the morning for some breakfast, refreshing shower, and change into something else. Even the simple act of combing my hair into a neat ponytail and putting on some cute earrings gets me geared up to start writing. This seems odd, but perhaps our minds are programmed after all these years to associate dressing up with going to work and hustling! 3. Take breaks
At work, you may take breaks to chat with colleagues and go for lunch. Make sure to take breaks at home too. Avoid spending your breaks on the phone. Instead, leave your home office and walk to other parts of the house.
Here are some things you can do on your break:
make yourself some coffee, tea, or any other beverage of your choice
chit-chat with a family member for a while
put on some music and prepare a quick meal for lunch
step outside for a quick walk and get some fresh air
meditate or do some breathing exercises
do something you enjoy for a while like doodling, colouring, or singing to destress
Spend your breaks away from your workspace to truly unwind and get back to work with a fresh perspective.
4. Reward yourself
At work, when you complete a big project, you celebrate with your colleagues and reward yourself. Perhaps you go for a team lunch somewhere nice. Don’t forget to reward yourself when you complete challenging tasks while working from home.
Order take-out from your favourite place, have a virtual lunch date with your close colleague(s), do something that feels celebratory to you. Your wins are not insignificant because you’re working from home, and they deserve to be celebrated.
5. Create a schedule
In addition to social connections, a workplace also provides structure to our lives. We wake up, get ready, be at work at a certain time, complete tasks and attend meetings scheduled for the day, leave work, meet with friends/family, and return home. Having a schedule and a place to go every day motivates us.
Working from home is challenging partly because it robs us of our usual routine. There’s no place to go, plans to make, and our days just seem to blend into one another. It’s important to create a new schedule for ourselves to keep motivated while working from home.
Incorporate breaks, meals, exercise, and social interactions (physical and virtual) into your schedule. Wake up and have breakfast with your family, log off from work in the evening and go out for a walk, plan weekly virtual game nights with friends. Create a new schedule that gives your life structure during this work from home period.
6. Limit distractions
At work, we’re surrounded by colleagues and sometimes even our bosses. This reduces the temptation to reach out for our phones. But at home, we tend to work alone and it’s easier to get distracted by a notification on your phone.
Once you enter your home office, it’s best to limit distractions to stay focused and keep your head in the game! Consider switching off certain notifications and only check your phone during breaks. Otherwise, we may get distracted by social media and go down that much-dreaded rabbit hole!
7. Exercise regularly
At work, we may move around from one place to another, but we tend to be more sedentary when working from home. Staying sedentary for long periods of time could leave you feeling quite low and unmotivated. Be sure to move around and get some exercise every day.
Go up and down the stairs as you complete house chores, go for a walk, put on a Zumba or yoga routine and follow along. Do what works for you and make it a point to stay active.
8. Stay connected with loved ones
Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, humans are generally social creatures. We were never meant to lead our lives alone in isolation. That tends to be the greatest struggle we face in this quarantine period – lack of human interaction and connection.
Our calendars used to be filled with events, functions, get-togethers, and brunches. Now every day is pretty much the same: wake up, work, stay at home, sleep, repeat. Although it’s difficult to have as exciting a social life as pre-COVID times, it’s important to maintain our social connections with others for our mental well-being.
Even if you can’t meet your friends and family, chat with them regularly, and be creative with how you can spend time with them. Virtual parties, game and movie nights have become quite popular in recent months. They give us a chance to spend quality time and connect with our loved ones even in these challenging times.
A Zoom call is never going to provide the same level of closeness or intimacy as meeting in person, but it’s still a good way to catch up and stay connected with others. Be sure to celebrate special occasions – throw virtual birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers – shower those around you with affection and show them you care in unconventional ways.
Everyone needs a celebration of love and friendship, a sense of togetherness to get through uncertain times. So be sure to reach out to your loved ones with the help of technology.
9. Have virtual co-working sessions with colleagues or friends
Working alone at home can get really boring. Why not plan a co-working session with your colleague or friend who’s also working from home? Keep each other motivated and chat over a cuppa during breaks.
Having company not only helps to beat that feeling of loneliness when WFH, but also keeps us accountable.
10. Have a weekend recharge routine
Prior to this, you could leave the office and go on a weekend getaway to recharge. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option at the moment. It’s important to recharge over the weekend and rest both your body and mind. Otherwise, come Monday, you’ll dread the week ahead and feel utterly unmotivated for work.
Create a recharge routine for the weekend, something that helps you unwind and feel relaxed. Although you can’t meet up with friends, visit cafés, or go on a road trip, weekends at home can be pleasant and enjoyable.
Here are some things you can do over the weekend:
spend some time on your hobbies
cook new dishes with your family
order take-out and have a family movie night
plan a virtual catch up session with your friends and family
take an online course
start a project you’ve been putting off (e.g. declutter your home, start your blog or YouTube channel)
create new family traditions (e.g. take turns cooking brunch and eating together on Saturdays)
Try different things and create a weekend routine that leaves you feeling rested and motivated for the new work week ahead. Change things up once in a while so the routine doesn’t get stale and you remain excited for the weekends!
Working from home is not only a challenge in terms of keeping ourselves motivated, but also to our mental health. It’s important to establish boundaries between work and personal space, and connect with our loved ones regularly to remain productive and most importantly, protect our mental well-being.