The past several weeks have been mentally draining for a lot of people. As we comprehend the world’s current standstill while adapting to a self-quarantined society, the likelihood of mental burnout and fatigue in isolation is mounting. In times like these, it can be especially difficult to focus on your job or a creative endeavor. And, burnout can hit us at any time. It might be Friday evening when you’re trying to finish a project on deadline or Monday morning as emails overflow your inbox. Plus, the absence of an office also means a unique work schedule, loss of daily social interactions, and a likely increase in the self-discipline that is required of successful remote workers.
If you’re struggling to adapt to remote work, remember that you’re not alone. Everyone is navigating these new circumstances, and we’re all leaning on each other to get through COVID-19 together. As Jenna Lally said in an earlier post, “while we practice physical distancing, there’s no reason to be socially distant”.
So, why not try and make the best of a challenging situation? It might be the perfect opportunity to dust off your ukulele or disconnect and read a book. If you want to stay motivated and productive during quarantine, here are seven things to try.
With all person-to-person interactions happening online, it can be somewhat alluring and comical to roll out of bed and jump straight into a meeting or project. With no way to really tell if you’re “late,” there might be little motivation to start work at a reasonable hour. The reality is that this habit can take a real psychological toll on your productivity as the weeks progress. I’m not saying to iron your slacks and throw on a button-down, but having some sort of morning routine where you get ready for the day will help you mentally separate“work from play”. In an article by Forbes, Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, had this to say about what you wear to work:
“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
To make sure I am in the right state of mind to begin weekdays, I still wake up at my normal time, get dressed in typical “work clothes,” eat breakfast, and set up a workstation to provide some form of stable normality in my life.
One of the unique aspects of quarantine is the increased amount of time we have to spend indoors. Instead of feeling bad about missing out on the usual spring group activities or binge-watching a series on Netflix, dive into a hobby that you’re curious about. Maybe you love writing and have a great idea for an ebook but never could find the time or always wanted to learn how to build a website from scratch. You can even try something that will enhance your professional career like making graphics on Photoshop.
Keeping up with your hobbies during quarantine will give you something to focus on besides work while providing a creative outlet that might have extraordinary results in the end.
There is an undeniable link between selfless acts and improved happiness. Supporting your community through any charitable effort provides a larger purpose for your actions and links you to a specific person or cause. Plus, helping others is a powerful way to feel good about yourself with the knowledge that you made a positive impact on someone else’s life. Even doing something on a small scale like donating non-perishable food items to your local food bank is a great way to feed our less fortunate neighbors.
If you’re interested, here are a few resources for local DMV Food Pantries that we have worked with in the past:
Staring at a computer screen for hours on end wasn’t good for us in the first place. It can lead to eye strain and bad posture, further amplifying the effects of mental fatigue. When working from home, it can be easy to forget to reset and give your eyes a temporary rest. Go on a light jog or walk, read a book, pick up an instrument, or cook a healthy meal. Just put your laptop away, charge your phone, and do something that will offer a mental release. Trust me, you will come back with an invigorated sense of clarity and confidence.
By now, everyone has seen how beneficial a platform like Zoom can be. People are building virtual communities for niche audiences and taking advantage of our desire for human interaction and conversation. From happy hour events with friends to live stream workout classes, technology has been essential for maintaining and building healthy habits. While most of us find ourselves away from friends and family, it is still necessary to work on those connections and maintain relationships while “physical distancing.” Even a simple phone call to check in can do wonders for your mood.
If you’re like me, you severely miss morning commutes on a nice day and going to the gym regularly. It’s one thing that a lot of people (including myself) took for granted. But working from home doesn’t mean you should completely give in to a sedentary lifestyle. Even 20 minutes of yoga or strength training can provide a wealth of physical and psychological benefits.
I’ll be the first to admit that a blank white page can be daunting. But journaling is one of the unique parts of my day where I can be completely honest with myself and reflect on everything happening. When you hit a mental wall, sometimes what you need more than anything else is a moment of clarity. And one of the best remedies I have found is to go back and read something you wrote a week, a month, or even a year earlier. This will help you understand yourself more and promote personal growth that you never believed was possible.
If there was ever a time to work on self-improvement, now is definitely it. The most important thing is to obviously keep yourself and those in your inner circle healthy. But it’s up to each of us as individuals to be honest and make decisions that will help us stay motivated and productive while coping with new information. Hopefully, these strategies will help.
How are you staying motivated and productive during quarantine? Tweet us your response @bdagencysocial with #goingbeyond in the copy for a chance to be featured on our page.
As COVID-19 pushes teams into remote, virtual workspaces, our “Staying Connected During COVID-19” series is here to help. Let’s commit to keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe, one step at a time. Follow us for tips on how we can further your mission together.