Lockdown has seen us go through many stages including multiple highs and lows.
For most people, working from home was initially a novelty. It gave them more free time as they no longer had to commute to and from the office. This time was a luxury, some spent it productively, working out at home, going for walks or baking banana bread. Others capitalised on a few more minutes extra in bed.
Zoom calls were fun, mainly because they were the only time you’d see the faces of people outside your house hold, and zoom quizzes soon became a staple of the working week.
However, as time has passed and working from home has now become the norm, many people are struggling to stay as motivated as they were at the beginning.
Anecdotal feedback from the employers on Graduate Programme Wales tells us that many businesses aren’t planning to bring employees back to the office until January.
The prospect of working remotely until the end of the year can be a daunting one, especially if you’re someone who is finding it hard to be productive.
We’ve put together some simple tips to help reignite your motivation and help you maintain productivity when working from home.
Whether you were aware of it or not, your typical working day in the office would have been quite regimented. You’d arrive and leave at a certain time and take your lunch at set times too. This can all fall to the wayside when working from home for multiple reasons and falling out of routine can have a major impact on your motivation and frame of mind. Although it can be tempting to have a more relaxed approach to your working day, it’s far more effective in the long term if you establish a new routine that isn’t too far removed from what it used to be. Try and get up at the same time each day, take your breaks as you would have done and most importantly, finish at your normal time. Routine gives us an anchor, it allows us to focus and will help you to separate work and down time, something that’s much harder to do when it all happens in the same space.
Have a Designated Workspace
As previously mentioned, when you’re working and living space merges into one it can become oppressive and much harder to separate the two. Assigning yourself with a designated workspace can help with that. It allows you to ring fence the areas in your home where you work and where you relax and simply having these subconscious labels will help with your productivity. Not everyone will have the luxury of having a home office so make the best of your personal situation. If you are having to work from your kitchen table, make a conscious effort to pack up your laptop on the weekend so you can mentally switch off.
Set Yourself Daily Targets
Setting yourself daily targets is a great way to measure your productivity and will help you recognise if you start to lose focus. It can be as simple as writing yourself a to-do list and allocating time for each task. Planning this out at the start of the day or the night before will help you prioritise which tasks are most important and will keep you on track. A great tip is to ask yourself which are the hardest tasks you have to do and to schedule them at a point of the day where you know you have the most energy and focus. It can also be helpful to schedule some things you enjoy into your daily targets so that it’s not all work focussed. This could be going for a daily walk or run or keeping in touch with a friend or colleague.
Working from home can be lonely and isolating at times meaning that communication is more important than ever. Although you may not be able to physically work alongside your colleagues, you are still part of a team so if you’re struggling with a project or an element of your work is becoming stressful, it’s important to reach out. It can be useful to establish regular catch ups with your team to ensure everyone is kept in the loop with what’s going on work wise but also to maintain the team spirit which can easily be lost when everyone is working remotely. All of this helps to remind you of the bigger goal that everyone is working towards and will boost your motivation levels.
Taking regular breaks is important but taking them outside is even better! Staying stuck at your screen all day is totally counterproductive but getting some fresh air and daylight will re-energise you and you’ll return to your work spot with a fresh perspective on things. It can be helpful to fully leave your job behind when taking a break and the physicality of going for a walk or sitting outside really helps with this. Building in breaks should be part of your daily routine and as lockdown restrictions are now easing you can really make the most of your down time. The benefits of working from home also make it much easier to squeeze in some exercise, a quick run here or a few yoga stretches there. These are all things that we struggle to fit in around normal office life so make the most of it and you’ll feel much more positive for it.
There is no fixed date as to when offices will return to how they were post lockdown and for many businesses, this has been a prime opportunity to trial mass remote working so it could be here for the long term.
With that in mind it’s important to focus on the positives, ensure you have a comfortable work set up and stay connected with your team as much as possible.