Working From Home: Staying Motivated
You’ve been dreaming about this moment your entire work life, no commute, no dress code, no burnt popcorn smell---from the coworker who ignores the workplace microwave rules. Then it happened, you’re suddenly working from home and you hate it. Your dog gave you a blank stare when you asked for a second opinion on that email before you hit send. And when donuts show up in the kitchen you only have yourself to blame. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you won’t get the hang of this WFH thing. All change---even during good times---is hard, and these are definitely not good times.
I can’t do much about the donuts in your kitchen, but I can help you stay motivated.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Try a fitness app, take a walk (if it can be done safely in your area), connect with loved ones or uplifting coworkers via phone or video, stick to a schedule, stop binge watching #tigerking, make healthy food choices and take some Vitamin D. I could go on and on, but you have a mom and it’s not me, so I’ll save my lectures for my kids. You know how to take care of yourself, so do it.
2. Make a Plan
What was important at work a few weeks ago may not be important now. It’s easy to feel unmotivated when you don’t have a plan. I’m sure there is a technical term for this---but I can’t think of it---so I’ll just say it---do a Brain Dump. Write out every single task you normally do at work as well as all the projects you’ve been or were planning to work on. If you are the boss, think about what still matters and focus on that. Even after this is over, the market will have shifted, people will have changed, adjust your plan to reflect that. If you aren’t the boss, review your list, re-prioritize to the best of your ability, then review the plan with your boss.
Getting new carpet in the office may have been a priority three weeks ago, but I can assure you that today no one is interested in discussing whether to go with the dark grey or charcoal carpet. Set short term goals and focus on those.
Some people are overwhelmed because they’ve been financially impacted by the current situation. As some of you know, I once lost everything during the 2008 recession. When your world is falling apart it’s hard to know where to start, this subject alone could be an entire blog post. I’ll try to make it short. Pick one hard thing to do each day and do it. Many finance companies and banks are allowing for missed payments, but you must be proactive. Pick up the phone and call them, let them know you’ve been impacted. Making calls like this are emotional and time consuming, so maybe you can only make one call a day, that’s OK. As someone who has recovered from complete and utter financial ruin I can say with conviction, you will get through this.
3. Set Goals Each Morning
Every morning, before you start working, take a half hour to set reasonable goals for that day. Break your to do list into Must Do’s and Nice to Do’s. There will be roadblocks, not everyone works well from home, so if your Must Do can’t be done because So and So didn’t finish their part, resist the urge to send out a scathing email, instead move on to the next thing on your list.
4. Create a Home Workspace
I realize you don’t have room for a home office. I’ve seen the ironing boards converted to desks all over social media. Listen up, a small writing style desk can fit almost anywhere, is not expensive and will do wonders for your back and your mood. Just saying, the See Jane Work desk at Office Depot is only $139.99, and since you aren’t crawling the bars this weekend, I think you can afford it. If you really don’t have space for even a small desk, order some clear plastic file bins. Use a bin for supplies and a bin for projects, at the end of the day when your family needs the kitchen table put everything back in the bins and voila you can have that family dinner you always hoped to have before COVID-19.
5. Stay Connected
Email is not a replacement for a real conversation. In fact, even a phone call may not be enough. You may benefit from a video call. Comb your hair, put on a shirt---no one will care whether you brush your teeth---and Facetime your coworker. It is so easy to hit REPLY or even worse REPLY ALL, but if it goes back and forth more than once, it’s time to get on the phone. The funny thing about email chains is that you don’t realize you are frustrated until it is too late.
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