Motivation in home office: How to survive the lockdown
A lockdown and working from home pose unusual challenges. But Motivation, home office and self-discipline aren’t mutually exclusive. Let’s see why this situation is so difficult for us and what everyone can do about it.
Limited mobility, social distance and lack of variety in leisure time. For many of us, this also includes working from home and raising children at home. The complete or partial isolation brings even hardened people to the edge of despair.
This affects not only the elderly in our society, who have to forego contact with grandchildren and family. Even singles, often on vacation for weeks, are faced with a situation that they have never known before.
Why lockdown and restrictions are such a burden
Objectively speaking, the measures imposed by our governments to contain the corona virus are manageable. Compared to other disasters, wars and man-made famines, we only have to live with relatively few restrictions. Our job is simply to minimize contact with others and to wear a mask for protection.
We do not go hungry, nor are we woken up by bombs or screaming. Still, we find it difficult to live with the limitations of a lockdown.
Lockdown as an unusual experience
The reason is that we have never known such situations. While our grandparents still had to experience some of the horrors of the war, we were able to grow up in relatively relaxed times. There were challenges for us too (the Chernobyl catastrophe, terror caused by Al-Qaida), but these were mostly far away from us.
More than 75 years have passed since the last World War. Our parents witnessed the subsequent reconstruction. We ourselves were allowed to grow up in a globalized world with great technology and almost unlimited possibilities.
The loss of customary freedoms
It’s therefore not easy for us to renounce these freedoms. We are used to moving around freely and spending our time with people we feel like right now. We do not know real fears of existence or survival.
Sometimes we forget the distinction between human rights and the usual luxury. There is a right to life, but not one to prosperity, package tours and unconditional welfare by the state. And even if the situation is grueling, there is no right to the state or anyone else to help us.
As with much in life, it is easy to blame others for the responsibility for our lives. We don’t have to do much ourselves or change anything, since someone else is responsible for it. You can live this attitude, but you won’t get very far with it.
Personal responsibility in the context of the corona crisis
A situation like the current corona pandemic tests each of us. It is precisely in such situations that it shows how strong a person’s resilience is. One gets along well with it, the other less so.
We are programmed by nature to want to survive. Nevertheless, many of us seem either to have forgotten how to do it or to be too comfortable to want to implement it on our own responsibility. A caring state is good, but at some point even this will reach its limits. Such a state can only help to a limited extent. But everyone has to bring a certain amount of personal responsibility and independence with them.
The first tip of this article is therefore not such a tip. Rather, it is a call for more self-control and optimism. The food supply is largely ensured, the crisis is manageable and as long as you take care of yourself, probably nothing will happen to you.
Most of us have gone through harder times in life, whether it be financial difficulties or loneliness. Just as we survived these phases, we will also get the Corona behind us.
10 tips for more motivation in home office
What has been normal for some freelancers, self-employed and employees for years is creating a new situation for many people. Flexible workplace, little control, no dress code: Working in the home office requires self-discipline and can quickly become overwhelming. However, if you follow a few important rules, you can work very productively here.
1. Fixed working hours
Even if your employer doesn’t give you fixed working hours, you should impose them on yourself. The appeal of being able to sleep longer with flexible timing and just start when you’re ready may be great. However, a certain routine is necessary to avoid a warehouse fever.
Therefore try to always start at the same time, e.g. to sit at the notebook at 8 a.m. with coffee / tea. This also applies to the end of your working day. Even if one thing or the other should still be pending: Set a fixed point in time when you drop the pen.
2. Workplace in the home office
One advantage of home office is that you can work from anywhere, be it a kitchen table, sofa or bathtub. Nevertheless, try to do your work in your home office or desk if possible. If that isn’t possible, the dining or kitchen table is the next choice.
In any case, avoid doing your job from the sofa or bed. The location from which you work has a significant influence on the way we work and should therefore be chosen well.
Initial studies suggest that unfamiliar work in the home office leads to an increase in neck and back pain in many people (see Moretti et al. 2020). If you work at your desk, you should therefore critically question your workplace so as not to unnecessarily strain your body. A simple desk chair may be enough for leisure time, but with 8 hours of work it can quickly become torture. Switching to an ergonomic model can work wonders here.
3. Clothing in the home office and lockdown
We all know these compilations of web conferences where people only wear what is in the visible area of the camera. Regardless of whether you take part in video conferences or remain invisible to possible participants in the conversation (including supervisors): Wear appropriate clothing.
This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a tie or earrings to write an email. However, you should also dress at home so that your body knows you’re in work mode right now. People who work from home are familiar with this effect: It makes a big difference whether you try to work in underpants or in appropriate clothing and styled.
4. Sport in the home office
Not only members of closed fitness studios face a problem in lockdown situations. Others also lack exercise and fitness in times of home office and isolation, it affects our performance and our health.
Therefore, make a resolution to do some sport despite working from home. Even if it’s only 30 minutes 3 days a week, your body will be yours. For this you don’t need equipment — contrary to our excuses.
Fitness exercises in the home office without equipment
Here are a few exercises that you can easily do at home without equipment:
Practical entry-level tools for fitness exercises in lockdown
If you want to expand the selection of exercises a little, you should get yourself a cheap training mat, resistance bands and a couple of dumbbells. For the latter, either a version with variable weight or as a set consisting of several weights. In any case, make sure that the maximum available weight is sufficient for you. You can then include the following exercises, among other things:
- biceps curls
- goblet squats
- lateral dumbbell raise
- floor press und floor flys
- shoulder press
- dumbbell bent over row
- triceps extensions
Alternatively, you can do some rope jumps or go running. It’s important that you do something for your physical fitness despite the lockdown. If you haven’t already, establish exercise as a new habit in your life in the future. You can only win.
5. Avoid distractions in the home office
During your working hours, make sure that you are as undisturbed as possible. This must be clearly communicated, especially in partnerships and families. Being at home shouldn’t mean that you are always available for all roommates. Talk to your partner or children about the fact that you need rest during working hours and are available afterwards and during breaks.
While this can often only be influenced to a limited extent, especially with children in the household, it’s also important to minimize possible sources of distraction. Here you have to observe yourself and also be self-critical.
Unless you absolutely (!) need your smartphone to work, it’s best to put it in another room without a sound. The same goes for computer distractions. If you’re prone to cat content and senseless clicking around, install content blockers (e.g. LeechBlock) that limit your time on certain websites.
6. Schedule breaks and rewards
Try to structure your daily work with enough breaks to keep your body and head fit. Therefore, treat yourself to a short break of ten minutes every two hours at the latest. Stretch your legs a little, get some fresh air, and make yourself a new coffee. At halftime it can of course be a longer break. Then eat something light, walk around the block or treat yourself to a power nap.
To keep yourself motivated, it can also be helpful to reward yourself occasionally. For example, you can treat yourself to a little candy after completing a major work unit.
7. Renovating your home office and apartment
Let’s be honest. You are unlikely to go on vacation or fly in the next few weeks. And otherwise, the expenses for your leisure time are likely to be limited at the moment. So why not just invest the money you saved in your home?
If you currently spend a large part of your time in the apartment anyway, it should at least be comfortable. Use the time for a new coat of paint, new furniture and a new look.
8. Healthy eating in the home office
The headline should actually be “Healthy Eating Thanks to Home Office”. Because if not at home, where can you choose how to eat? Excuses regarding the selection in the canteen or the fast food offers on the way to work are no longer an option.
Take this opportunity and eat healthy. This not only has the advantage that you have a little variety through the preparation of the meal, but also that you will be significantly more productive with the right diet. Eat light and high-quality food, such as whole grain products, salads, vegetables or smoothies and foods with added value.
9. Social contacts in lockdown
Even if having coffee with friends is currently not feasible, use the existing options. Regardless of whether it is a phone call or a video call, you have the technology for it. Therefore, consciously plan time for such private things in your everyday life.
It’s very important that you do not exacerbate your isolation by not having contact with friends. Otherwise you will unnecessarily worsen your situation and create potential for a bad mood yourself.
10. Use the lockdown for new things
Granted, a lockdown is not the best place to start looking for new hobbies. The fitness studios have closed, the club life has stopped and many other options are also flat. Still, now is a good time to start doing things you’ve been putting off.
Sure, you can just spend your free time watching every new series on Netflix. Alternatively, you could study, read, or try hobbies that are possible at home. The subject of further training has been possible online for years without any problems and should pay off on the career path.
A lockdown and working in the home office are unusual challenges for us. Still, it is largely up to us how easy or difficult we make this situation for ourselves. Instead of pulling ourselves down, we should see the situation as a challenge and make the best of it. Because in the end it is up to you whether you will come out of this situation weakened or strengthened.
Use the time you are forced to have at home sensibly. Question previous habits, try new things and keep in touch with those around you. Motivation, home office and lockdown are not mutually exclusive as long as you make the most of them. When this time is over, it’ll simply be up to you whether you used the time or not. So stay tuned!