As the coronavirus quarantine continues, it can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm for work – assuming you’re one of the lucky people who can work from home – much less career advancement. Even if you were already a work-from-home veteran, weeks of working and living in one spot can take a toll on your productivity and motivation.
Luckily, it takes just a few easy changes to maintain your career motivation and propel you productively through the remainder of this global period of self-isolation.
1. Change your routine.
When things start to get stale in your workday, it's time to mix things up. Options may seem limited when you’re confined at home, but a little creativity can lead to a lot of variety. Try reordering the way you complete your daily tasks. Breaking up the monotony of your routine, even a little, can make the day more exciting and rewarding, and help shed new light on your work.
Set a couple reminders so you’ll be sure to give yourself breaks – and take advantage! Get up, walk around, drink some water, take deep breaths, check on a loved one, meditate, or do whatever helps you stay sane. A bonus tip: Once you log out for the day, really check out. Get a change of scenery with a walk or a bike ride, or even a barefoot drive – yes, it is legal!.
2. Control your financials.
With millions of people filing for unemployment and markets remaining unpredictable (at best), you’re not alone in feeling anxiety over the financial possibilities, even if you’re still getting a steady paycheck. Knowing where you stand financially can leave you feeling empowered, either with goals for improvement or the satisfaction of knowing things are under control. Then you can get back to work with a clearer head.
You’re likely spending less than normal, so consider what you’re doing without that you no longer miss, and whether you can keep that expense off your books permanently. Assess where your money usually goes, and create a budget for the future – even different budgets for different scenarios. Make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by dedicating a portion of your earnings to savings. Research your credit score and learn ways to raise it.
3. Organize your life.
When you’re looking at it all day, clutter can begin to weigh you down – especially if you have multiple people in the house looking for a clear workspace. Take advantage of down-time by embarking on a cleanout. This might be a simple matter of moving unused items to an attic, shed, or nearby storage facility; or, like many people during lockdown, you might choose to tackle the space-clearing home-renovation project you’ve been thinking about. Start by pricing out dumpster rentals, then get to work tearing out old furnishings and doing away with excess junk. This may seem like an extreme response, but the results can be game-changing: You could be enjoying extra, streamlined space in just a few weeks.
4. List your goal.
Being confined in one place can make one day seem to stretch into the next. In turn, that can make it hard to keep your eyes on the prize, and easy to fall down rabbit holes.
To stay on track, make a clear list of what you need to accomplish each day, and consider adding some long-term goals you haven’t addressed yet: Starting in on a project you’ve been putting off can boost your momentum and amplify your motivation.
5. Enhance your education.
Another way to reinvigorate your will to work is to enroll in classes or obtain new certifications. Continuing your education is not only a great way to learn new skills, it can also help you maintain passion for your current position. Many nonprofit management training courses are available online, but if formal learning isn’t in your budget, search YouTube for a topic you find practical – or just fascinating!
Besides keeping your mind engaged with new information, learning an unfamiliar skill can bring you a new sense of confidence and hope. Of course, adding to your credentials is also a great way to get noticed, promoted, or hired for a new position.
6. Stay in touch with your colleagues.
Some of the best ideas happen when minds come together – it’s just a little more difficult when that has to happen via video meetings, virtual chat, or emails. In fact, losing daily contact with coworkers can be one of the most difficult aspects of working remotely, since you can’t just stop by someone’s desk to ask a question.
That makes right now the perfect time to put extra effort into reaching out to your colleagues, and your entire professional community. They’re likely facing many of the same challenges you are, and they may have figured out some workarounds that could benefit you – but don’t discount the therapeutic value of commiserating over your shared plight! Many companies are even encouraging their employees to stay in touch socially, both to boost morale and encourage mental health.
7. Count your achievements.
Whenever you start feeling demoralized, it’s time to stop and give yourself pat yourself on the back. Start with the fact that your work-from-home regimen is helping to keep COVID-19 from spreading – a real contribution to the greater good that deserves to be applauded!
Next, take time to consider your professional achievements. Think about everything you’ve managed to accomplish despite current restrictions: It’s likely much more than you think. Make a list of everything you’ve achieved in the past year, and take a moment to appreciate what it took to accomplish each.
Not only will this remind you of what you’re capable of, it should also make you feel good enough to re-spark your motivation. Make this practice a habit, and you’ll be ready to build on your successes, advocate for your worth, and advance your career once the world returns to business-as-somewhat-usual.
Molly Barnes is a writer and full-time digital nomad, working remotely, traveling constantly, and maintaining the Digital Nomad Life as a resource for fellow travelers and remote workers.
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