About a week after returning home from my travels I could feel myself slipping into a very (familiar) sloth-like existence. Knowing myself and what I’m like, I decided I could not let this happen. Whilst we all love pj days, too much Netflix and lots of snacking, it’s sometimes too much of a good thing. And for me, endless pj days eventually lead to me feeling tired, demotivated and lazy. So it was time for me to take control, or as Jim Rohn so rightly puts, it was time for me to run my day.
Listed below are 10 steps which, I feel, have made a big difference to my motivation and productivity levels whilst in isolation:
1). Give yourself a purpose
Had to start with this one as everything else is pointless unless you have something you can actually do. For those working from home, you’re sorted! But for any of you who have been put on leave, are self-employed, a student forced to return home, or anything else in-between, you might be feeling a little stuck as of what to do. How do you fill your time now? Well, when this question was bugging me, I asked myself another – when I’m going about my everyday what do I always wish I had more time to do? The answers then came quite easily to me, one being evidenced right now: blogging.
For you this could be reaching that fitness level you always wanted, learning a new skill (a language? an instrument? an online course?), finally having time to read, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, growing your own business, whatever it is, seize the time that’s being given to you. We know we’ll all be complaining again when it’s over.
2). Set goals
This could be as simple as writing a to-do list! By goal-setting I just mean writing down your aims and what you want to achieve with this time. As a bit of an organisational freak, I like to create a ‘messy’ to-do list, where I scribble down everything I want to do, whatever pops into my head. Then I make ‘daily’ to-do lists which mean picking off a few things from the big messy to-do list and making them my focus for the day. This way you don’t get overwhelmed and your tasks become more manageable. There’s no point demotivating yourself because you’ve set the bar too high and find you haven’t achieved what you wanted.
3). Create a routine
Now you’ve got an idea of how you’d like to spend this unexpected time at your disposal, it’s time to take action. This can be harder said than done however as you are now your own master. That’s why I suggest creating a routine. We are creatures of habit, so if you’re used to working Monday – Friday, with weekends off, implement this kind of structure at home and stick to it. By setting an alarm for 8 AM and getting to work by 9 AM, you automatically get into a more productive mind set. Enjoy the fact that there’s no rushed commute to work and take that extra time to make a cup of tea, sit with it, and look over your goals for the day (which I suggest making the evening before!).
4). Get dressed
This may sound silly, but it can sometimes be all too tempting to stay in your comfy pj’s or dressing gown all day (as no one’s going to see me anyway, right?) but I would strongly advise against it. This kind of outfit, whilst comfortable, isn’t going to breed productivity. So, when you get up, get dressed and make yourself look presentable. It makes a huge difference, trust me! Even with just a pair of jeans and jewellery on, I automatically feel more put together, motivated and ready to kickstart the day.
5). Avoid too much screen time
This may be a little harder if your work or goals require a screen, but I think we all know our phones can be our biggest distraction. So, rather than making it the first thing you see and do when you wake up, why not implement a rule, e.g. no phones before 10 AM? This saves the risk of a scrolling-time-vortex, where you click on one app and before you know it, you’ve been scrolling for the past hour and a half. Out of sight, out of mind!
6). Work hard, play hard
Being at home means you have more flexibility, so give yourself regular breaks and a treat to reward yourself for your productive hours! This could be going on a walk, watching an episode of your favourite TV series, listening to a podcast, calling a friend, whatever it is, make sure you’re giving yourself things to look forward to. I promise you’ll enjoy them all the more for having done some work first.
7). Move your body
Exercise is good for the soul. Whether it’s a run, walk, dance around the kitchen, make sure you’re moving every day to keep your mind and body healthy. For me, its a morning run or an afternoon walk! I don’t put too much pressure on myself, as long as I’m up and moving around in the fresh air (I’m lucky that I live in the countryside) then that’s enough for me. It’s a great way to start your day or break it up a bit!
8). Stay social
Following on from the last point, it’s important that we all stay social! We may be cooped up inside, but that doesn’t mean we have to be broody and silent. Grab a cuppa and check in on a family member or friend, ask how they are, it’ll be good for both of you. A quick conversation can do wonders for productivity as it gets you out of your own head, allows you to relax a little and spurs you on with fresh energy and motivation. You could even go further and make an occasion of it, with virtual pub quizzes and date nights, something to look forward to at the end of the week.
9). Hold yourself accountable
In order for this productivity to happen you need to take measures for when you don’t follow through. It can be hard to make a start or stick to something if you let yourself off the hook. Only you know what you’re capable of, so be strict with yourself. If your eyes start to wonder to your phone or TV remote, make sure there are consequences in place that deter this from happening. Or better still, tell someone else of your plans, this might give you more incentive to start and finish them!
10). Switch it up
Another thing that can stump your motivation and productivity is being in the same space too long, something which I’m sure we’re all struggling with during this pandemic. Home is usually somewhere we come back to at the end of the day, a safe haven we can relax in and now it is our permanent base, with the outside world lingering just beyond it. That’s why I suggest keeping things fresh. If you’re used to working in your room, go downstairs and work at the kitchen table, or bring a blanket with you and work outside. Just try to give yourself a new environment every now and then to keep that motivation and productivity up!
Follow these quick and easy steps and I’m sure your goals and dreams will be met in no time. It’s a strange time, so take comfort wherever you find it. For me, that’s been rekindling my love of Pinterest, which is where I found all the quotes above!