Finding motivation when you are working from home can be difficult enough. Throw in a coronavirus pandemic and a lockdown and it is no wonder some of us are struggling. We have put together a few of our top tips to help you get the most out of your working day and hopefully feel a sense of achievement when you shut down the computer at night.
This may seem relatively self-explanatory, but most of us will not be able to function properly working from home if we do not have a framework to guide us. It can be tempting to fly by the seat of your pants every day, but rest assured you will soon find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unorganised. Some days you may find you need to mix it up and that is okay. Having the same itinerary day after day can be demotivating so make sure you have plenty of variety in your daily tasks.
Choose whether to start your schedule from the time you are going to wake up through to the time you go to sleep or just keep it office hours based – which ever works better for you! Personally, I like to plan my day from start to end, including lunch breaks and when I am going to do my exercise. Think about what you would like your new normal to look like. Write it down and try to stick to it where possible. There are lots of different digital tools out there to help you do this or keep it traditional and stick to pen and paper.
Remember it is important to factor in breaks to help with productivity. They also give your brain and body time to re-energise and re-focus. You may find you need to take more of them throughout the day than perhaps you would of whilst in the office. They do not have to be long breaks – they can be five minutes away from your screen, a quick virtual cup of tea with a colleague or friend or a virtual workout class. Sometimes we all just need to step away and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
With so much going on around us all the time, it can be very easy to get distracted. It could be something in our environment or something non work-related taking our attention, but shifting our focus away from projects can seriously slow down productivity.
One of the biggest distractions can be social media. It is so easy to pick up our phones and slip into the rabbit hole of scrolling through one Tik Tok video after another. Try to limit social media use to when you take a break but try not to take a break just to go on social media – there is a difference!
If you do not need your mobile phone during the working day try putting it in another room. If on the other hand you need it to make calls, try making it harder for yourself to browse. Some phones allow you to make folders. Pop all the apps you want to avoid during the day together – out of sight out of mind and all that! There is also some clever browsing blocking tech out there to help you put a ban to visiting these sites on your computer. An alternative is to not save your login details so that it is harder for you to access them.
This is a big one for me personally – I cannot function properly without a ‘to do’ list. I know there are also a few other Swans who find this helps as well. Whether it is a pen to paper list or something a little fancier (give Trello a go if you have not heard of it before). Setting clear objectives can help you stay focused and achieve your self-recommended deadlines. I would recommend writing your list the day before so that when you begin work the next day you have a clear view of what you want to achieve.
Also, once you have completed a task, tick it off! It may sound silly, but the sense of satisfaction really does help make you feel good. This little boost can give you what you need to move onto the next job and keep up your motivation. If by the end of the day you have not managed to tick everything off at least you will have a clear list of jobs to focus on the next day as well.
Although the prospect of working from your bed might seem great at first, in reality, it is not the place where you will be inspired to do your best work. Find somewhere away from the rest of household where you will not be distracted. If you have a spare room or study to use as an office space, keep anything work related in there. Try and get as much natural light as possible. Try sitting near a window but make sure there are not any glares on your computer screen. Creating a working environment can get you in the right headspace that you need to work productively.
Of course, this may not be possible for everyone depending on your living situation. One of the most important things you can do is simply make sure you are working at a table rather than on the sofa – it will be all to easy to flick on the TV and catch up on your latest shows otherwise.
It can be easy to feel like you are working alone when you work from home. Although this might be true physically, do not forget about your colleagues who are also doing the same. Schedule virtual meetings to stay in the loop and maintain relationships. There are all sorts of different tools out there we can use to help us stay connected, but it is the “face time” that is important. Video calls are a great way to keep in touch and whether you decide to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts sometimes we just need to see a friendly face to lift our mood.
At the end of the day mentally close the door on your work and enjoy some relaxation time. Give yourself a fixed finishing time and where you can, stick to it. When your personal life and your work are both under the same roof, it is harder to balance. Sign off with colleagues and let them know you are finishing for the day.
Working from home certainly has its perks but it can also be challenging. We are all individual and work in different ways, but we hope these tips will help you in some way.
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