People who are generally positive and optimistic are finding life tough. As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, that weekly team meeting via Zoom is far from appealing. The sixteen months of sitting at the dining room table to work now feel like groundhog day. The back aches in a way it never ached before!
Then there is life outside work. July traditionally marks the start of the summer holidays but that probably seems like a distant dream. Schools are also about to break up, but you might feel like the kids have just started back!
Despite the high number of vaccines now administered, uncertainty still lingers in the air. It remains difficult to plan. It’s safe to say annual leave requests for weddings, long weekends, festivals and breaks are on the light side.
Uncertainty, combined with the lack of usual summer time treats to look forward to, means it’s hardly surprising that work mojo is missing from even the motivated and dedicated of employees. This isn’t something that only effects home workers, where boundaries between work and home are more blurred than ever before, but those who have returned to the office too.
In this blog, we outline seven simple ways of staying work motivated during unprecedented and unpredictable times.
1. Be kind to your mind
If you’re feeling low, it can be tempting to tell yourself that you need to ‘pull yourself together’, be grateful that you still have a job. However, it’s important to give yourself some space to accept that you are finding things challenging and that these feelings are a natural response to what’s going on. Recognise what you’re doing well. Colleagues and managers are likely to be experiencing additional pressures so encouragement and praise are something that might be missing.
2. Get Dressed
If you are working from home, loungewear might be the wardrobe staple of choice. This might relax you to the point of being unproductive, rather than motivate you to get stuck into your to-do list. You don’t need to be wearing shirts and jackets, but make an effort to get up and dressed every morning just as you would if you were leaving the house. Back in the office? Try wearing a new item of clothing, a perfume or aftershave you usually ‘save for best’ and see how that feels.
3. Get comfortable
Whether you are back at your office desk or working from home, ensure your workspace is as comfortable as it can be to help keep you focused whilst you work. The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors has useful advice on how to create the right working environment. Communicate with your employers if this isn’t something you can achieve without some support.
4. Dear Diary
Remind yourself how much you achieve on a daily basis by keeping a work diary that you can reflect back on. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to write down what you achieved, and thoughts on what helped you achieve it. If you’re struggling to complete a task later down the line, you can look back on this and see what worked well for you before, and try to replicate this to get through your new tasks. It can also be a useful record to refer to when preparing for 121’s or appraisals.
5. Take a break
Don’t feel guilty about taking short, regular breaks throughout your working day. Taking time away from your screen to refocus can improve concentration, productivity, and your overall health. Try not to spend your breaks scrolling through your phone. Instead do something different such as getting some fresh air. Spending all day inside isn’t the best for your mental health and won’t keep you motivated.
To help you keep on top of your work, take time each morning to plan your day. Make a list of your prioritised tasks. Breaking your working day down into chunks can make your workload more manageable. Start the day with the most complex tasks, or the tasks you like the least, to help with procrastination.
7. Boundary setting
According to ONS data, in 2020, people who worked from home did an average of 6 hours of unpaid overtime weekly. At home it’s tempting to check your emails in the evening but this isn’t always healthy and can lead to burnout. Although overtime is sometimes necessary, set strict boundaries when it comes to doing extra work to ensure that your home life isn’t becoming all-consumed by work.
Finally, even pre-covid we all had those days or weeks at work where just couldn’t seem to get into it or had a difficult time staying focused. Remember, holidays will happen again. So will weddings, complete with permitted dad dancing. Other things we look forward to will return. Until they do, these tips can help you get motivated at work.
If not it could just be the job! Perhaps you’re just plain bored. With the jobs market picking back up, maybe it is time to look for your next career move.