Work Motivation - Man at desk working
Published 23 October 2020. Written by Marina Gask.

The best way to thrive during the next few months is to stay motivated and productive. But HOW when we feel so ‘meh’? Five experts share their advice for working smart, playing your A-game, staying positive and feeling that motivation.

Feeling fired up? Possibly not. While this year’s shift to working from home may be welcome from a lifestyle and safety point of view, it is undeniably harder to stay motivated. 

According to a survey by workplace software business Names & Faces, only a fifth of UK workers feel very visible within their organisation since moving to remote working, and not being seen has had a knock-on effect on productivity, too. 

What’s more, we’re heading into the cold mornings and gloomy skies of winter, when the impact of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can leave us inclined to swap deadlines for the duvet. 

But we can beat this, say experts. And here’s how to get back your work motivation…

SET A ROUTINE: The Business Coach, Shilpa Panchmatia, 53, Middlesex, says:

‘It’s very easy not to have a typical 9-to-5 day when you work from home. With global accessibility via emails and video calls, we can end up being “on” and available all the time. But this can lead to burnout, which can manifest itself in a loss of motivation. 

‘It’s an illusion that being constantly busy is helping you advance professionally, so be strict about your working hours. I have a set morning routine: I always make my bed, drink hot water, meditate and do yoga before I start work. This sets off a chain of events and gets me in the right frame of mind.

‘And I set myself a realistic hard stop at 6pm. I switch off completely and avoid getting lost in a rabbit hole of emails, social media and YouTube. I also take weekends off. You’ll be more productive and motivated if you have proper downtime.

I swear by… doing a small easy task. If I can’t get motivated to do a big challenging one, doing something small but productive breaks me out of my inactive mood.’

Woman at home finding her work motivation

SET GOALS: The Productivity Expert, Emma Mills-Sheffield, 40, Brighton, says:

‘At the start of lockdown, there was a sense of it being short-term so we didn’t plan for the longer-term adjustments needed. But there is now a sense that we need to hunker down for the long haul. Having both a long-term and short-term goal (or goals) is really great for motivation. 

‘By seeing my plan on a page, I find I can avoid feeling overwhelmed and set clear expectations of what I can achieve, what I can delegate or what I can take on as a challenge. If you can see that you’re making steady progress and completing tasks which excite you, you’ll have a good sense of achievement, which helps momentum and motivation.

‘Building in healthy habits in terms of both work and wellbeing is really good as we head into winter. With the evenings drawing in, try taking a longer lunch break to get out in daylight and recharge. Set it in stone and don’t let other people steal your time!

I swear by… planning out my day the night before so I don’t get sidetracked and can make progress early.’

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE: The Life Coach, David Linaker, 55, Salisbury, says:

‘If you’re finding it hard to get motivated, distinguish between the big picture in your life and the small one. The white noise from all the stresses and worries of the world distracts us, leaving us with only about 10 per cent of our brain focused on the task in hand. 

‘The big picture is outside of our control, so rather than focus on that, we need to turn our attention to the small things we can deal with right now to keep on track.

‘To get myself motivated I remind myself of my “why”. Why are you earning money? To pay the bills and have a home, stability and safety. Get in touch with your “why” and remember the positive emotions associated with that so you focus on what you have, not what you don’t. 

I swear by… phoning a friend and swapping advice. Supporting someone else really helps you beat that “stuck” feeling.’

Find work motivation at home

LOOK AFTER YOUR WELLBEING: The Mental Health and Wellbeing Expert, Tania Diggory, 34, Herts, says:

‘Self-awareness is a key attribute of staying positive and having motivation while working from home. We need ebbs and flows to help manage stress and embrace contentment. So understand what balance means to you, know what your boundaries are and make time for what’s important to you.

‘Knowing what time during my working day I feel most energised really helps. Allocate your most work-important tasks of the day to this timeframe, where possible. Rest, physical exercise and a healthy diet are crucial to your wellbeing as a whole, and the more you nurture yourself the more you’ll increase your focus, motivation and sense of positivity while working from home. 

I swear by… meditation and breathing techniques to keep me calm and enhance my focus.’

Woman taking two dogs for a walk outside

CLEAR YOUR THOUGHTS: The Business Psychologist and Coach, Jess Baker, 44, Shropshire, says:

‘Our general baseline level of anxiety is much higher in this current climate than it was pre Covid-19, making everything – even the weekly shop – feel more challenging. 

‘It helps to try to understand your thought process. What is the underlying issue here? If you are procrastinating, consider what unhelpful thoughts about you or your ability might be preventing you from making progress. If you are a perfectionist, you may be setting your standards so high that you’ve lost the willpower to maintain your momentum on the job.

I swear by… making a list of actions I need to take in order to complete the job and get myself out of my self-critical headspace. Break this down into the smallest elements to make the goal less overwhelming and more manageable. Our mood affects our thoughts, which affects our behaviour. So, if I’m losing my motivation, I go for an invigorating walk or even dance around the kitchen to boost my mood.’

Need a quick WFH break? Try our 15-minute calm-down toolkit. And breathe…

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