If you’re like many professionals, you’ve been working remotely for a while with no clear end in sight. By now, you have probably settled into some kind of routine, and working from home might even feel normal. But there are still factors at play that might make working from home less than ideal, such as isolation and lack of scenery change. Whether you’ve been loving work-from-home life or you can’t wait to get back to the office, you’ll probably find yourself in a rut at some point. If you feel your productivity and motivation slipping, here are a few tricks to try for a work-from-home reboot.
Switch Up Your Space
By now, you know all the tips for setting up a productive at-home workspace: have a designated spot, make it comfortable, get good lighting, etc. Now that you’ve been in the routine for a few months, reassess how your space is working for you. Just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean it’s the best solution. Could you reposition your desk to have a more pleasing view? Could you invest in a more comfortable chair to ease discomfort? Is there another spot in your home where you could test out new scenery altogether? Or do you just need a plant or other decorative item to bring a boost of happiness to your workspace? Take some time to figure out what’s working for you and what isn’t, and change accordingly to make the upcoming months more comfortable and productive.
Try a New Soundtrack
Have you been listening to the same Spotify playlist since March? It might be time to mix it up. For a change of pace, try a new genre of music. Or check out a playlist based on a mood you want to channel—for example, “happy music” or “productive music.” Or mix it up even further—if you always listen to music, try podcasts, or vice versa. Need some inspiration? Start here to see what we’ve been listening to at Vault!
Divide Up Your Hours
The workday can feel really long when you’re at home with no co-workers or water cooler chats to break up the day. But on the flipside, being at home means you probably have more flexibility as to when you fit your work hours in. If you have found, for example, that you start to fade in the afternoon, reconsider a new schedule to accommodate. You could try an early morning start so you can end earlier in the afternoon. Or you could break up the day with a mid-afternoon walk and extend your workday a little later. Maybe an even more extreme schedule works best for you, such as working a half day in the morning and another half day in the late evening. Obviously, make sure that your employer approves of whatever hours you decide to keep. But if you get the go-ahead, take this opportunity to experiment and find the schedule that maximizes your productivity.
Sometimes, a little reward can go a long way in keeping yourself motivated. With nobody physically around to keep tabs on whether you’re working, you just might have to implement your own system for staying on track. Set small goals for yourself that include tangible rewards for completion. For example: You get to walk to the new neighborhood café for lunch if you finish your morning project. Or you get to take a coffee break after you check off three items on your to-do list. You could reward yourself with moving your workday outdoors once you’ve finished the tasks that require the most concentration. Or you could find a scheduled activity like a webinar or workout class that inspires you to finish your work beforehand. Whatever your goals and rewards are, take them seriously and hold yourself accountable.
When weather permits, a boost of fresh air and sunshine can go a long way in conquering cabin fever. Fitting in some outdoor time throughout the day creates a real difference in your mood and productivity. Before you start work for the day, you could go on a walk around your neighborhood to wake up, clear your mind, and set your intentions for the day. Or you could take walks during the day to break up your hours into manageable chunks of time, whether that’s multiple short walks or one long walk. The end of the work day is another great time to head outside, when you can wind down and decompress. You also don’t have to spend long stretches of time outside to reap the benefits. Quick stretch breaks throughout the day provide a nice change of pace. Or even easier (especially on hectic days), just open your windows to bring fresh air into your workspace.
It’s great to have a routine, but sometimes it takes a little tweaking. Now that we’re a few months into this new work-from-home life, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what changes you can make to improve and renew your motivation.