We all have days where we lack motivation, and you’re not alone. It happens. Even the most positive and productive people have days like this. Rita, a BARE Data Quality Specialist, shares her ‘survival strategies’ for productive remote working, an enjoyable home office and how to get, and stay, motivated during the lockdown.
Part 1: Set Up for Success: Routines & Work Space
AM Routine: Be an early bird
Being an early bird will help you be more organized and prepares you for the day ahead.
‘Whenever I get up early in the morning, I feel much more organized, and my head is much clearer. I have a routine that I keep, every day.
First, I always open my window to let fresh air come in and drink a glass of water with lemon. I brush my teeth, complete my skin care routine, and get dressed. I dress as if I would be going into the office; smart casual is a must to enhance productivity and to be ready for video calls!
I make my bed and then, before work, I devote a couple of minutes to think over what tasks need to be done and prioritize the most important ones. I am ready to take on the day!’
Good Health is a Habit
Staying healthy and more active may seem to be even more difficult when working from home, especially if this was a struggle before the pandemic. However look at this as an opportunity to build a routine to keep you healthy and alert. Keeping a routine will help you find time for home workouts, follow a healthy diet, get enough vitamins and water, and get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
Be sure to include your mental health when you are factoring in your schedule. Some examples include affirmations in your morning ‘early bird’ routine, reading during one of your routine daytime breaks, or having your lunch on your patio or porch if the weather is nice.
Organize your desk
Keep a simple work space. The fewer things that occupy your desk, the more creative ideas have an opportunity to light up your day! Try to keep the essentials on your desk, the things that are truly needed day-to-day for your work, and nothing else.
‘I believe that having an organized work environment always helps to be more productive and focused. So, whenever you need to plan something complicated, you will have enough space and a clearer mind to execute that.’
No, not so comfortable you’re napping more than working, mind you! But it’s extremely hard to stay focused when you’re constantly straining to see your computer screen or rubbing your aching back.
Invest in a good office chair and make sure you’re sitting in an ergonomically correct position at your desk. If you get uncomfortable sitting too long, try a standing desk in one corner of the room. If investing in a good office chair isn’t in the budget, adding a small pillow to your chair for back support is a simple and cost effective trick.
Little upgrades like an anti-glare screen for your computer or blue light blocking glasses can increase your comfort level, allowing to focus on getting your work done.
Take a break
Taking short breaks for exercise can help shift gears, refocus, and reenergize throughout the day. Your body and mind will thank you for this! So pick up a set of resistance bands, light weights, or – if budget allow – a treadmill or step machine and keep in your home.
Do not forget to take ‘eye breaks’ as well! Reduce eye strain by following the 20-20 rule: stare at something 20 meters away and hold it for 20 seconds. You’d be surprised how much difference it can make!
Last, but not least, do not forget to plan when you will have your lunch break and how long it can be. Mirror the same work routine you had in the office. If, in the office, your lunch break was between 12:30 to 13:00, keep this same time when working from home.
How do you know if your accomplishments support your big goals? Follow-up on your progress consistently by incorporating check-ins on a routine basis. For example, analyze and list what you could and could accomplish weekly.
This provides insights on your priorities and what tasks need to be set for the upcoming week, and also showcases all the successes that you accomplished!
Part 2: Time to Grow
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone was complaining about the lack of time. Now, many of us have time! This time provides great opportunities. Did you have a hobby that you wanted to try out, but never could? Did you promise yourself in New Year’s Eve that this year you are going to make it happen? Now is the time. Start with smaller steps and grow from there.
Get inspired, learn new things, and push yourself to become a better you!
Start small: learn something new each day. This adds up over time and will enrich you as a person. Experiment with your interests. You can start learning a new language, read more books, or find topics on YouTube that you are not familiar with, but you are curious about.
Working from home has some distractions, but these tips will help you start and finish your job on time, allowing the rest of the day to other things that make you feel passionate.
Before going to bed, write out a prioritized to-do list. The next day, include in your routine, check and reprioritize what you can complete for that day. Incorporating these actions into your routine will turn them into habits which help complete your ‘to do’ list!
Highlight the distractors
Yes, you read that right! Try to think about the things that are stopping you from being motivated and productive. Try to find what causes negativity in your life: it can be a person, bad habits, poor organization, or anything that makes you feel anxious, disappointed, or sad. Work to eliminate them from your life.
‘I always lack energy when my diet is not healthy, whenever I cannot get enough sleep, or when I am not properly organized. To get back on track, I pay more attention to these specific aspects of my routine and then everything else falls into place.’
Sometimes it is a person close to your heart that can cause the most heartache and demotivation. Try to talk to them; they may not realize how their attitude is affecting you. It is also okay to say ‘good-bye’ to people who are not good for your mental health. If it is a colleague, reach out to your manager or HR for mediation. Ultimately, your personal mental and emotional health should be your number one priority.
There may be people in your life that, as hard as you try to remind them gently, just don’t get that working from home still means working! Teach yourself to politely but firmly disengage from outside distractions.
Schedule a call or ‘together time’ outside of work hours, so they do not feel forgotten or alone. Set expectations and outline what is an acceptable reason for interruption (such as an emergency or time sensitive needs). Ultimately, once you’ve let people know your work hours and that you are unavailable, you do not need to feel bad for being unavailable for anything short of an actual five-alarm emergency.
Celebrate all successes!
Do not wait for enormous goals to be achieved to make you feel proud. Make a list about the things that you achieved in your life and that made you feel proud… no matter how small. Be proud of your achievements. What may seem easy for you, others may find difficult!
Count your small successes, in and outside of work, and you will be happier and much more confident.