One of the most challenging parts of working from home—or studying from home—is the challenge of staying motivated. Ever since the start of the quarantine, much of the separation between work, school and personal life has blurred.
My workstation is also the same location as my entertainment centre where I binge watch Netflix or complete my workout routines. However, over the past few months, a few things have helped me stay productive and motivated at times when I felt least engaged. For students entering a different online learning setting, it can be challenging to learn, work, and relax all in the same areas of the home. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Make a plan: Even while our daily routines can feel mundane at times and repressive, making a list of things to complete in the day helps mentally prepare ourselves for action. The small task of simply writing down or using a calendar to organize our thoughts will be valuable in tracking our progress, but also in setting the stage for more productive work. For myself, I find that keeping an active agenda has also been useful in tracking small milestones over time. Prior to creating task lists I mentally kept track of my progress, which did not create the atmosphere and mindset required to be productive, thus causing unnecessary stress when things were missed.
- Refresh your routines: Change helps rewire parts of our brain and keep us engaged with remote work or online studying. For example, I’ve tried various studying techniques, including the Pomodoro technique whereby studying or working hours are divided into smaller 20 or 30 minute segments that compartmentalize work and help us stay motivated. Another addition that has been vastly helpful to my daily routine is exercise. While the pandemic has kept my gym membership at bay, I’ve managed to keep a gym routine of only 15 minutes a day. Even for this short period of time, I feel more energetic and refreshed after each school and workday.
- Remove distractions: Some of the distractions that AU students may be prone to while working or studying from home is social media. While social media has its merits in keeping us connected during this time, it also has the potential to affect our productivity. Especially when digital content is being uploaded at a higher rate than ever before. For myself, dealing with this meant simply placing my phone in a separate room while I worked or turning off distracting notifications from my laptop. At the end of each work hour, I would reply to messages from social media which helps me to focus on the task at hand.
- Exercise mindfulness: Mindfulness has been a key factor in motivating myself to work at times when I feel the least energetic to cross the next item from my to-do list. How does mindfulness work? Mindfulness is about being aware of your attitude, surroundings, and stimulus that your body takes in at any given moment. This directs our attention to some of the attitudes that may be preventing us from working or studying more effectively. For example, a few weeks ago, I faced challenges in motivating myself to meeting certain deadlines because of negative attitudes for the type of task involved. Understanding the root of this emotion helps separate ourselves from the emotion itself. Reframing the task at hand and giving ourselves positive affirmations will help us overcome even the least desirable or challenging tasks at hand. Ultimately, this space and perspective will help us work more effectively and give us time to enjoy more of what we love.