The pandemic has not been kind to most of us. Sure freelancers and other remote workers didn’t have to go through a drastic change in their work/home life arrangements.
But a great deal of us had to adapt really quickly and it’s no surprise then that our collective focus and productivity has fallen, though as time goes on it’s been getting better.
The quarantine is pretty detrimental to our psyche and those of us who have to contend with lasting symptoms from long COVID such as brain fog have an even tougher time getting through their day.
Why is keeping yourself motivated important?
Even though circumstances have changed for the worse (stress, logistical work issues, distractions from inhabiting the same space with the rest of your family), the amount of work has not. It’s easy to just fall behind and have to work long hours to catch up with your work, which comes at the expense of the time you need to rest and relax. This imbalance of being overworked while at home and still not getting proper sleep or time to unwind severely impacts our mental health.
That’s why running a tight ship is the best course to avoid burnout.
6 ways to be more motivated and productive at work
Experiment with time management
Remote work’s biggest pitfall is mismanaging your time. There are multiple reasons for this. You don’t have to commute so you tend to think you have all the time in the world to complete every task, manage to sleep in and relax, and spend quality time doing whatever you want.
That’s not quite how reality works out. It’s a false sense of security that stretches the workday way beyond your hours and doesn’t necessarily help you get through your day effectively. The structure is even more important when at home. Be firm when you start work and clock out and then fill in the most important work tasks within that time frame.
To help you along the way try out alternative ways to budget time. Maybe the Pomodoro technique works best for you. Maybe you just reward yourself with small breaks whenever you finish off a task. Try out different alternatives until you find the one that makes sense.
Use an RSS feed reader
I’d also suggest changing your online habits, especially if you’re at a job where you have to read on industry news and innovations. It’s easy to fall into the infinite scroll when online, even in the office. At home, chances are even higher you’d spend unnecessary time on a browser or social media. That’s where RSS feed readers come in.
Perhaps you’re not aware they’re back in style, but they’ll optimize the amount of time you spend online. Remove distractions. Keep every important news site, blog, newsletter and Twitter account in a single master feed. Each current RSS feed reader has its own particular flavour. If one of your jobs is to research content, Inoreader is the perfect choice for its discovery zone. Collecting and storing feeds is also done easily thanks to its browser extension.
Develop a routine that works for you
Sharing space with your team in an office creates a more dynamic and collaborative environment, where you can switch easily between tasks and generally be fluid in how you approach your work load. The same really doesn’t work quite as efficiently when you do it all through Zoom and direct messaging services. To that end, it’s best to create some rules for how you’ll approach your day.
Focus on completing one thing before checking in with your messages and group chats. This also works by grouping tasks together by type.
Always be up for a challenge
It’s important to keep work interesting even at its fullest. To this end, you should make your own fun at home. What can make your work day a great deal more interesting? What are those small challenges you can set for yourself to give yourself that spark to breeze through the day?
Gamification of work has been an ongoing process since the digital age began. Focus apps like the Forest app reward you for being focused by giving you resources to plant trees. Habitica turns you into a fantasy character ready to embark on new quests.
Or maybe you’re more of a pen and paper kind of person, where you set yourself a timer to see how much work you can accomplish in that time and then work to improve your record.
It’s good to reward yourself
Small rewards go a long way when you’re not feeling the day. We all have some days where we just don’t want to do things at all and those are the days where you need to be extra kind to yourself. Practice self-care and give yourself rewards beyond small breaks.
Maybe you’re being stricter with what you eat? Have a small dessert with lunch. Make yourself a nice smoothie when you’re done with a small task. Order takeout once you accomplish a big task. Watch something fun or do a facial mask when you get done with your day at a specific deadline.
Work and personal life should be separated
It’s important to be able to clock out of work, even if you’re spending the day at home. When the time comes, turn off the work laptop and leave it somewhere far away. You should already have a designated home office space whether that’s the living room or the kitchen, if you have the space. It’s best to keep work out of your bedroom, but if that’s not possible, then at least make sure to cut back on work tasks at the same time every night.
Unwind. Do something for yourself. Take a long shower. Take a short nap. Read. Exercise. When you protect your personal time and space, you recharge your batteries and are able to show up for work the next day motivated to check off every single item on your to-do list.