Across the world, people are having to adapt to a new environment, a new way of working, and in some cases having to make money in ways that are new. This means working from home for a lot of people. How do you successfully work remotely from home and keep yourself motivated through a pandemic?
This is not an easy question to answer for everyone, because every single one of us is different, we have different home life challenges and different working environments. On top of that, most of us have never experienced a pandemic before, so we have zero past experiences to draw on for help. In this post, I want to share what’s helped to keep me motivated whilst working at home, what’s caused me to feel less motivated and some general thoughts, tools & resources to help anyone new to working remotely feel a bit less…remote!
Having worked remotely for a few years now, I’ve learned that I get an extra burst of motivation and inspiration every time my working environment changes. Each time I felt lower than usual about my work or I lacked some motivation, I had the urge to take my laptop and work from somewhere else because I knew that this movement would help me get back on track. That was pretty tough to achieve when, in Spain, we were told we can’t leave our house except to pick up food, but with this snippet of knowledge I had about myself I was able to adapt and try something new.
My main work station whilst being confined to my house was a dinner table. I don’t have children, so I didn’t have family priorities to contend with at the same time as finding somewhere comfortable to work from. This worked well for a while, but I soon switched things up and created my own standing desk using a chest of drawers and some books once the back pain kicked in! Even working from different rooms and recreating a small office environment helped me to regain focus when I was feeling less motivated.
Try switching up something in your work routine (even if it’s something small) and see if that changes your mindset and helps you regain some motivation. You might be surprised at how much it helps!
Set yourself small and consistent goals
Setting goals at work is generally good for your motivation and wellbeing, but it’s even more important for your motivation when you have a pandemic to contend with and you’re only allowed to work from your home. You could set small, achievable, personal goals that aren’t related to your work at all or you could set your own goals for your work life. As long as you have something you’re working towards and that checkbox you can tick (yes, ticking that box genuinely helps!) you should find your motivation, in general, doesn’t reduce as much.
Personal goals could be something as simple as setting a routine for cleaning your house or goals around fitness. You could set yourself a goal of taking a break every few hours during your day or making sure you get that lunch break. Whatever your goals are, write them down and tick them off once complete, because achieving goals is great for motivation.
One of the top tips I got from asking other remote workers how they kept motivated working through a pandemic was the importance of staying organized. Most people felt that if they kept organized, they had a much higher chance of keeping focused when work got busy. Using tools like Gmail calendar for your meetings and calls, Trello for organizing project work or a simple paper diary for tracking daily to do’s can really help keep your motivation on track.
William, a 3D Generalist / Motion Designer from London, has been working remotely for around 3 years and he listed staying organized and keeping on top of his accounts as the two most important tips to keeping himself motivated. For William, the importance of enjoying what you do for work is a huge motivator, and a simple and tidy workspace definitely helps!
Consider a standup desk
Sitting for long periods of time isn’t great for your posture. Being sedentary all day can also lead to weight gain. Researchers found that you can actually burn more calories each day, just by switching to a standing desk. Consider a standing desk to add a bit more activity into your day and keep the back pain away.
If you’re looking for a laptop stand to help with posture – but don’t want to shell out for a full standing desk, the Dragonfly is an excellent option (I use this myself and it’s beautiful and practical).
I feel like this ‘tip’ has been shared to death, but it really is for good reason. Exercise is great for our mental health and although it’s not a cure, it can definitely help us to get out of a funk. Even if you’re not an ‘exercise type person’, the smallest amount can help you reset your mindset and help you get back into work with a refreshed view on things. There are tons of YouTube tutorials for workouts like Pilates, Yoga, HIIT, cardio, and bodyweight workouts and I found that adding in just 30 or so minutes for some light exercise during my week did really help lift my mood.
If you’re sitting down for long periods of time with little breaks, you’ll benefit from adding in some stretching, resistance, or functional training into your day. Louise has some awesome videos up on her YouTube account. Try adding this to your weekly goals for double motivation 😁
Avoid Zoom fatigue
I’ve experienced this first hand, and it can be avoided. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and it’s caused by having too many virtual meetings on your calendar and in a lot of cases coupled with virtual hangouts with friends and family. I felt exhausted after several weeks of Zoom work meetings and then hanging with friends and family in the evening via video calls on quizes and catch ups. You feel grumpy, tired and you just want to hide away. Don’t let it happen! Block off your calendar to make sure you’re taking time away from the screen so that when you are on a video hangout or work meeting, you’re 100% present and happy to be there.
Find happiness in side projects
I began thinking about creating my own space online during the ‘lockdown’ phase through the pandemic. It took a long time to actually put the action in, but it gave me some focus in an area that wasn’t just family quizes and my day to day work which I found joy in. I launched the website you’re reading now and I now enjoy adding content to it when I like. Having a side project keeps me motivated and keeps me learning in areas I like.
Hannah, a voice-over artist from the UK, also found that the pandemic and in particular, being confined to home with more time on her hands than usual, had allowed her to focus on the areas of her business she liked most. She read more about the industry she was in, worked on more of the projects she enjoyed, and was able to invest more in the equipment that she needed. She says that a big chunk of her motivation came from knowing that there were opportunities to help her clients in a difficult time for business. The need for voice-over work is growing, and knowing that she had more time to perfect her website and online content kept her motivated to do the work that she loved.
Whipping up something as simple as a blog or creating another version of your own online space, contributing to something that you love outside of your usual work can be a great motivator and help recharge you when you need to show up for other areas of your life.
Find your online community
Working remotely (especially when you’re on your own) can get tough. If you live in a country with strict restrictions on movement and you’re confined to your house a lot more than usual this can take a toll on your wellbeing and mental health. Keeping connected to others can boost your mood. You don’t have to be on a constant stream of Zoom video calls to connect with other people, there are lots of avenues that allow you to stay connected to your community. Big Orange Heart is a charity whose mission is to support and promote positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities. They have a handy Slack group if text-based communication is your thing, as well as lots of other meetup opportunities to keep in touch with other remote workers. Their Podcast is also worth checking out. 😁
Take a break
The one thing that’s easy to forget when we’re in our own bubble and working hard from home, is that we’re all human and downtime is totally OK. Despite what tons of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts tell you, you don’t have to be learning another language, making extra money, picking up a new skill or making miracles just because you’ve found yourself with extra time on your hands. Take a break, be easy on yourself, and do what you need to do to get through an extremely tough situation. 💪
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