With England currently finding itself once more in a full lockdown - due to the new, super-infectious variant strain of COVID-19 - and the novelty and drama of last year's initial lockdown well and truly worn off, many of us will be feeling pretty lost, deflated and stagnant, as we begin the new year.
After a dreary winter full of restrictions that saw many of our Christmas plans cancelled, beginning 2021 in pretty much the exact same way as we started 2020 (except with the hope of vaccinations on the horizon) has had a hugely detrimental effect on our motivation, productivity and energy levels - as in they are currently non-existent.
As someone who's happily worked from home for at least one day a week for the past few years, I welcomed the move to work from home with open arms last year. The joy of reclaiming my time during the day to catch up on life admin, sleep in and go for lunchtime walks was something I secretly looked forward to. Nearly a year on and it's safe to say the novelty of working from home has officially worn off.
The delight of hopping downstairs to my kitchen table in the mornings, now feels just as tiresome a journey as my former commute, and despite having so much more free time throughout the day than I did before the pandemic, I've never felt so tired. An inevitable side effect of lockdown life, according to Ann Heathcote, Psychotherapist & Counsellor at The Worsley Centre.
'We are all going through a lot of changes this year and many of us will be experiencing decision fatigue,' explains Heathcote. 'When we are in our regular routine, we naturally have fewer decisions to make.'
From settling into our new home working environment, to trying to decide how best to utilise our free time; whilst keeping updated with the changing world around us, there's an awful lot going on in our brains. 'Many of us just aren't used to this amount of psychological stress', Heathcote notes. Our nervous systems can only work in 'fight or flight' mode for so long, before the inevitable 'lull' many of us are currently experiencing kicks in; our energy sapped and motivation practically non-existent.
So, how do we snap out of it and get our motivation back? By practising some simple self-care, says Heathcote.
How to get your motivation back
Remember to take breaks
If you're struggling with productivity during work, make sure you take breaks away from your work area, including lunch. Having a new routine will help you manage your time in work, as well as your work-life balance. It can be easy to get distracted by your phone or other members of the household during breaks, but staying strict on your break allowance will enable you to reel yourself back in.
A lot of the motivation for productivity may also be impacted by your time out of work. Ensure you're still doing things for yourself in your spare time and practise self-care, whatever self-care is for you; be that exercise or not. If you're struggling with adapting to your new working environment, try reaching out to your employer, HR or co-workers for support.
Don't cave into peer pressure
There is a lot of pressure at the moment to use your free time effectively, and do everything you've been meaning to do. While this may work for some people, others may just need this time to directly invest in their mental health and simply do less. Instead of focusing on what you 'should' be doing in your free time, focus on what you 'want' to do.
Entrepreneur and business coach Irene Moore knows a thing or two about creating a productive work environment at home. Since setting up mentoring platform Savvy Startup Club, she spends her time helping female founders to successfully build an online business that they can run from anywhere.
Here are just a few of the tips she recommends when working remotely:
Set boundaries at home
Share your 'office hours' with any loved ones using the space, along with what level of interaction is acceptable during those hours. You may also want to create some fun new rituals like mid-morning coffee or lunch with the family, so they have a stress-free space held to connect with you throughout the day without feel like they are getting in the way
Have a wind-up and wind-down routine
Kicking off the day with a ten minute HIIT class or yoga workout on Youtube, whilst mentally listing all the things you're grateful for, is a great way to start.
At night, you may find that quickly jotting down everything you need to do the next day helps clear the head and aids better sleep. Followed by a simple guided meditation – there are loads of free apps that offer nighttime mediations, which can work wonders for waking up feeling more motivated for the day ahead.
Listen to your body
Sometimes lack of motivation isn't down to lack of drive, but exhaustion and poor self-care. Ask yourself if you are doing all you can to keep your energy levels high; like eating breakfast, staying hydrated and getting as many doses of vitamin D as possible.
If you're feeling sluggish and unmotivated, then going for a brisk work or dancing to your favourite song can be a great pattern interruption giving you that hit of endorphins your body needs to get back on track.
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