Personally, I love working from home, but that hasn’t always been the case. There is the initial novelty, which I imagine many are currently experiencing, but it’s the same sort of novelty that you get if you work from home once or twice in a pretty structured week. That is very different to adopting a long-term framework that has to employ continuous self-motivation and self-discipline.
As we know, there are plenty of benefits from working in the comfort of your living room. Zero commute, reconnection and quality time with your loved ones, reduced exposure to the virus and additional time to work on other areas of your life you have been neglecting for years.
Are you noticing just how the slight lack in focus on your work leads to opening the fridge door, emptying the dishwasher, incessant social scrolling to get the latest COVID19 news, amongst the hundreds of pictures of empty shelves in your local supermarket? Before you know it, you are doing ANYTHING BUT WORK!
On top of the various and rather creative ways you are finding yourself procrastinating, so comes the monotony. As much as Susan (sorry to any Susan’s out there) drives you nuts in the office – there will come a point where you will long to see Susan. Well, maybe not! But the lack of human interaction (outside of those we live with) after a period of time can feel very isolating and often is the first step to experiencing cabin fever! Humans need human interaction for motivation, stimulation and connection.
Here is what I have found to be true and has helped me focus and kept me motivated and healthy both mentally and physically during long periods of working from home.
Schedule your week – this is the primary action you should take either on a Sunday evening or first thing Monday. Detailing out specific tasks (including, work outs, time to get up, lunchtimes, work time, down time) will not only allow you to plan and focus for the week but it will give you a clear understanding of what you are going to accomplish by the end of the week. Take control of your week – don’t let it be the other way round.
Take regular breaks – heard of the Pomodoro Technique? This approach is a great time-management tool. Focus on one specific thing to get done, give yourself 20 minutes and no distractions (no email or text correspondence, no notifications of any kind) – do your task for 20 minutes and then break for 5 minutes – get up, stretch – walk around, reply to your text. Then, rinse and repeat. There’s a great app for that too!
Exercise your body – Get out of your home if you can for at least 30 minutes a day – walk, run or workout. If you are housebound, go online – there are plenty of free indoor exercise classes for people of all ages and abilities. A favourite of mine is: ‘#yogawithadrienne’ – love her! (She has classes for seven minutes -!)
Exercise your mind – I cannot stress how important this is. It is everything!. No matter your circumstances give yourself 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to do one of two things:
- Meditate: this helps clear and focus your mind; it won’t be easy to start off with and takes practices to get to a place of nothing and focus but keep going. Again, there are many online YouTube classes to train you to do this.
- Download: You can journal or just write down all that is going on in your head at that moment on a piece of paper. Download and observe with curiosity. Don’t be self-critical please– it’s not useful. This will instantly make you aware of what is causing your current emotions. When you are reading it back to yourself some of it will feel and sound ridiculous and some thoughts might just surprise you. Either way, this process will bring to the fore all those little niggling thoughts that often steal away your time during the course of the day and allow you the chance to redirect your focus. This is huge and is the difference between procrastinating your day away and giving yourself the best possible chance to accomplish what’s needed.
Schedule YOUR time in the week – Make time for what you enjoy (different to family time – this is solely time for you). This could be learning to cook or bake something new, read, write, garden – anything that uses your mind and / or body to grow (i.e. not Netflix). This will help with motivation during the week, it will give you something to look forward to and build on your growth to bettering yourself. You may be living in a small physical world at home but you have the ability to open that door to a much larger place by continuing to expand your mind, learn and do things that you really enjoy! But schedule it in.
Manage your notification responses – Enough said. You know how much or little you need to spend answering texts or emails straight away. Did you know you don’t need to be a slave to ‘PING’!?
Get up, get dressed and make the bed – Some of you will not like this one, surely working from home gives you the advantage of not having to make an effort on your physical appearance. WRONG! You are making the effort for yourself, for your mental health. Staying in your pyjamas and working from your bed is fine for a day (maybe two) but in the long term this can have significant mindset side effects. You get tired quicker. The option to snuggle up and fall asleep during parts of the day is more appealing and becomes more frequent. Exercise takes more effort…. I can go on. Trust me, getting up, getting dressed and making your bed as though you are going to work right from the outset of this mass ‘working from home culture ‘we are now finding ourselves in, automatically starts the routine and focuses your mind not only for the day but for the unknown time we have at home.