Working from home during a global pandemic hasn’t always been easy. While there’s no denying that those of us who have been able to do our jobs from the safety of home have had it lucky, it’s important to acknowledge that working from home has also presented real challenges.
Staying motivated, in particular, has been particularly tricky. For many people, the whole experience of WFH has been a bit of a rollercoaster – while at times finding the energy to get through the working week might have been easy, at others, it’s been a real slog.
And if you’re experiencing one of those ‘slog’ periods right now, you’re not alone. Not only are many of us going into our 11th month of compulsory working from home, but we’re currently working against the backdrop of a third national lockdown, an uncertain future and the dark, miserable weather of January – none of which make for optimum working conditions.
Because of this, it’s completely understandable if mustering the energy to get through your working day has become a real struggle at the moment. Yet again, it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not just ‘working from home’ – we’re working from home in the middle of a global pandemic in which our expectations of what we can manage must change.
Keeping all of this in mind, it’s worth noting that there are things you can do to boost your motivation levels if you’re struggling. To find out more, we asked Dr Rachel Allan, a charted counselling psychologist based in Glasgow, to share her top tips for getting motivated while working from home. Here’s what she had to say.
1. Get outdoors
There’s a reason why you’ve heard so many experts talk about the benefits of getting outside – not only does it stop you from sitting down all day, but it could also do wonders for your motivation levels, too.
“If it is dark when you start your working day and dark when your working day ends, it is important to create an opportunity to get out in the daylight when you can,” Dr Allan explains. “A walk around the block or to pick up a takeaway coffee can be enough to break up the day.
“Whether you enjoy the quiet or listen to music or a podcast, try to switch off from work while you are out. Exposure to light, fresh air and exercise is one of the most positive things you can do for motivation and wellbeing.”
2. Think about how you organise your day
You may already know how valuable organisation can be when it comes to dealing with stress, but did you know that organisation can help to boost your motivation levels, too?
“If possible, try and keep your days as varied as you can, and keep a balance of quiet work time and meetings or contact with others,” Dr Allan recommends. “If you are experiencing ‘screen fatigue’ consider ways of reducing screen time in your day.
“Ask yourself what would bring you a greater level of satisfaction, within the limitations of working from home. If there is something you would like to change, look at how you could implement it.”
3. Reward yourself
If staying motivated is becoming a challenge, giving yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day could be a real game changer.
“Small rewards can make a big difference to motivation,” Dr Allan points out. “Looking forward to a decent coffee, listening to a favourite podcast, calling a friend or cooking your favourite food can provide light and focus at the end of the day.
“Setting a time frame within which you want to get a certain task completed means you can keep yourself accountable, and enjoy a reward when it is done.”
4. Create contrast between work and non-work
Being able to switch off at the end of the working day will help you to feel more recharged when you return to your desk the next morning.
“Ideally, keep your work in a space in your home that is not in use when you are not working and if that is not possible, pack away your work stuff when you have finished working, and repurpose the space for a non-work purpose,” Dr Allan recommends. “Try and have a different routine for non-work days, and make the most of your time off.”
If working during the pandemic is taking its toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. From the isolation of being separated from colleagues and the stress of relying on technology to the threat of redundancy and the anxiety of applying for a new job, there are a number of reasons why you might find this time particularly challenging.
So, what can we do about it? We’ve got a plan.
Our new Work It Out campaign, supported by Mind, aims to give you the tools and resources you need to take care of your mental health while you’re stuck at home. From completing your Work 5 A Day to dealing with issues including to anxiety, loneliness and stress, we’ll be exploring all aspects of WFH wellbeing.
For more information, including how to complete your Work 5 A Day, you can check out our guide to getting started.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.