The majority of us have been working remotely for over a month now. We passed the initial shock & upheaval phase and the novelty of working from home phase within the first few weeks. We’ve enjoyed the long Easter weekend and some exceptional spring weather.
While many of us are appreciating some of the inevitable benefits of working from home – no commute, saving money, able to dress how we want and visit the fridge at any time – it’s sometimes hard to get and keep motivated.
Ironically, I’ve had to give myself a stern talking to in order to motivate myself to compose this blog, something I normally love to do.
This article covers three themes around how to stay motivated while remote working: know yourself, reality check and set yourself up for success.
Knowing ourselves is important at the best of times. While so many of us are working remotely, it’s key to understand this right now and for however long this might endure.
Some of us are intrinsically motivated (the motivation comes from within), while some of us are more extrinsically motivated (we need other things such as reward or punishment). Neither are good or bad, but this can be really useful to recognise.
If you like working alone, then this is an ideal time for you: you’ve probably never been as productive as you are right now. If your preference is working with others, you may need to identify other ways to get the interaction that brings out the best in you.
These questions can also help you to better understand yourself:
- What gives me energy? What saps my energy?
- Am I happiest working on multiple things or one thing more intensely?
- At what times of day am I most engaged and productive v least productive?
- Aside from work, what am I enjoying doing, during the lockdown? Cooking, time with family, exercise, gardening, reading, learning, DIY etc.
You may not be used to this introspection, but it could prove very insightful.
The lockdown situation gives us a great opportunity to take stock of everything.
In spite of the reported chaos and devastation, it’s ‘business as usual for many organisations and a lot of people still have work to do.
It’s important for everyone working to be really clear on expectations, roles & responsibilities and to align with other team members and stakeholders where appropriate. This is even more important where some people have been furloughed or other team changes.
Working on objectives that are appropriate to the situation can be energising & motivating. In contrast, working on something that’s irrelevant, or likely to be postponed or even cancelled, can be demotivating. Update your objectives, if necessary.
Often work isn’t 100% distributed with possibilities of bottleneck somewhere. With everyone working remotely this can be greatly exacerbated and masked.If your workload is higher or lower than you’d like, maybe there’s an opportunity to spread this more evenly. You will need to be honest and trust that others are too.
I see a role as a box without a lid – if you’ve done everything that’s part of your core responsibilities (the box), are there opportunities to do more and get involved in other initiatives and projects?
As a slight aside, if you’re unhappy about being able to work right now, this could indicate a broader problem that you’re not happy. Take advantage of the lockdown situation to give some further thought about what you really want to do. We always have many more choices than we may think.
Set yourself up for success
Given some of the points discussed above, how can you pull this together to ensure you give yourself the best chance of success to stay motivated?
- Give yourself permission to make any changes identified to help increase your motivation. Ultimately you are the boss of You, not your employer, spouse or other family members.
- Speak to your manager if you need their help or support: increasing your motivation must surely be a good thing for them directly or indirectly.
- Talk to your family / housemates and ask for their support.
I’ve identified some more practical ways of getting and staying motivated:
- Pretend you’re at work – keep normal hours, get dressed, exercise as a proxy for ‘commuting’ to/from work, prepare a packed lunch in the morning, take periodic breaks to communicate with others etc.
- Identify the most productive working hours and rhythm for you
- Use time management techniques – Top 5, Pomodoro, Importance Urgency matrix
- Create a suitable workspace – where possible make your workspace comfortable and away from distractions. If possible add something pleasant e.g. music, photos, candles etc.
- Look after yourself – get enough rest, stay hydrated, taking regular breaks, take any stimulants in moderation (caffeine, food, chocolate, alcohol etc.)
Finally, ensure you’re building in time for some of those things that you’ve identified as being important to you in the Know yourself section above. The lockdown is an opportunity for living as much as for working.
With many of us working remotely, it can sometimes be hard to keep motivated, especially if we’re not used to working this way.
This article covers 3 themes around how to stay motivated while remote working: know yourself, reality check and set yourself up for success.
Thanks for reading. Check out other Blue Diamond articles to help you take control of your work and life.