In the rising time of work from home, your daily routine may have changed. It may feel quite different and can be uncomfortable. Through my experience and the feedback from the entrepreneurs and people I coach, I would like to share with you some tips to be motivated, productive and well while using stress to your advantage.
When working from home, tips to get and stay motivated
Working at home can be very challenging and even more so during COVID19. Here are my top tips to get and stay motivated. The following is about focusing yourself and staying focused to do what will move the needle towards your goals.
First of all, check the environment where you are working:
- Where are you working? Lying on the couch. Comfy, sure. Comfortable over the long run? If you are spending a solid 10-12 hours a day in front of the computer, you may want to settle yourself at an ergonomic desk and working station.
- Where is your phone? Is it right within your reach and with sound notifications? Research has shown that putting your phone away and activating the do-not-disturb mode will improve your focus and keep you motivated.
Then, it is about time management. You may have already heard of: the Pomodoro technique. It consists of doing your work in timed intervals of 25min each and taking a 5-minute break.
Next step is combining the Pomodoro technique with strategies on how to prioritize what you have planned to do. For any tasks you have on your daily/weekly/monthly todo lists or project management tools, ask yourself:
- What is REALLY important?
- What is important AND urgent?
- What is not urgent?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you can either choose to do an important and urgent task right away or strike out a task.
I would like to share one of my personal secrets. When running, I’ve taken the habit of rewarding myself along the way, telling myself: “Well done Maxime!” while patting myself on the shoulders.
At work, rewarding looks more like giving myself a food treat (one or two chocolates), or allowing myself some time on my favorite phone game.
If you have been feeling that you have tried all of your strategies to stay motivated, then ultimately I would ask the following coaching question:
What if stress arises?
Stress is part of daily life and it can be quite overwhelming at times.
Stress: the fine line between flow and burnout
Before sharing with you some tips on how to manage higher levels of stress, I would like to share a life changing insight.
A right amount of stress is great to stay motivated and you can get yourself to be in flow with the benefits of increased productivity. The increase can be 300%!
On the other hand, recurring stress potentially associated with negative self-talk over a longer period of time (days or weeks) can lead to mental health challenges and burnout.
There is no right or wrong level of stress. It is up to you to find your balance.
Tips to manage stress
Depending on the situation you are in, try using these tips.
Before an important meeting for instance, I found it very useful to prime myself with a box breathing exercise. The process is easy and as follows:
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds,
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds,
- Breathe out slowly through your nose for 4 seconds.
The time patterns can be adjusted depending on your preferences. Try holding then breathe out for a longer period of time. For instance, you can try 5 seconds hold and 6 seconds out.
I like to associate the breathing with some meditation and positive self-talk too.
Another tip is to be social. Share with a friend, a colleague, a family member, your cat/dog or pet or anybody else what you have in mind and your feelings about it.
My secret weapon if I am stressing myself too much to the point of freezing is to ask myself:
- Am I in danger?
- Am I really getting into trouble, like getting attacked by a predator? I often imagine a lion, a T-rex dinosaur or something! To me at least, the answer is no and I put myself back at ease.
One of my favorite question I ask to my coachees and would like to ask you:
How to maintain and improve your wellness?
Life can be bumpy at some stage and things out of your control can happen. And it is normal to feel lower than usual sometimes.
In those circumstances, what you could do is focusing on what you have control over. This includes your wellness and self-care.
Self-care emcompasses 3 main aspects:
- Physical self-care
- Emotional & Mental self-care
- Spiritual self-care
1- Physical self-care
Physically, I focus on the life essentials: Sleep, Eat, Move:
- Sleeping is about how much and how good I sleep.
- Eating is about nutrition.
- Moving is about walking, running, swimming, doing yoga or stretching etc.
You get the idea?
2- Emotional & Mental self-care
Emotional and mental self-care is about cooling down your nervous system after an active period of time such as work.
When was the last time you did nothing? I really mean nothing at all?! By that, I mean not even scrolling on your phone. If the answer is “I don’t remember the last time I did not have my phone in hand”, then how about preparing yourself a warm bath with candles and soft music?
Personally, I recently realised that it had been a long time since I had taken some off-time for myself.
My secret is that I am now taking 5 or 10 minutes to contemplate the fire light from a candle and listen to the sounds of birds/animals/insects/rain/wind right before bed. Open your window or open your favorite music provider.
3- Spiritual self-care
Spiritually, spending time outdoors (walking, hiking) and moreover in the middle of nature surrounded by trees for instance is a relatively accessible practice.
If you are in lockdown as I am, visiting your neighborhood can be full of surprises.
In addition to that, meditation and/or yoga can be a great way for you to feel and (re)connect with your spiritual self.
From here, to self-coach, ask yourself and journal about your experience:
Your Key Food for Thoughts (KFT)
All in all, it is about experimenting. Try new strategies, remember old strategies that may have worked in the past, notice any changes and find what works for YOU!
Finally, I would offer that sometimes, you try to stop what makes you feel unmotivated, stressed, unwell and do something FUN!