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How to Get Out of the Work-From-Home Slump

Feeling your productivity and motivation taking a dive? Here are the best ways to pull yourself out of it.

Australian states and territories (except Victoria, for now) have begun relaxing coronavirus lockdown restrictions. And though this signals a step in the direction of resuming some normality, it’s unlikely that white-collar workers will return to the office any time soon.

If you’ve been working from home for several weeks, there’s a good chance the novelty of Zoom meetings and remote interaction is beginning to wear off. While there are benefits to working from home, isolation can mean workers are beginning to feel less productive and less motivated.

This is what scientists call the third-quarter phenomenon. Studies of people isolated in bunkers, submarines and space stations show that around this point of isolation, people begin to grow particularly restless, unmotivated and agitated. We’ve put together some tips to help you overcome this feeling and get back to your productive best.

Method

Weeks may have felt a bit repetitive before lockdown restrictions were in place, but working from home takes this feeling to a new level. Without midweek drinks or dinner to break things up – even that daily commute – it can begin to feel like each day is blurring into one amorphous block of time. To help you break out of this repetitive cycle, try working in different ways than you’re used to. Take your lunch break at different times, or change how you work. If you’re struggling to concentrate, try the Pomodoro technique – a productivity-boosting method where you work in 25 minute blocks with a five minute break at the end of each block. After every fourth block (or 2 hours), take a break for around 15 minutes.

Reorganise

If you’re able to, consider moving your desk or changing the room you’re working from. Set up in your bedroom? Move to the kitchen table. If weather permits, spend some time working outside, too. You want to be comfortable but remain productive. If you’ve been spending a lot of time working in bed or on the couch, it might be a good idea to move somewhere you can sit upright. A change of scenery is a good way to reignite your interest if you’ve been lacking motivation.

Clean

Not everyone will be able to change the location of their desk. The next best thing is to spend some time tidying your workspace. This is a good idea regardless, and de-cluttering your desk will help you focus. Try removing everything that isn’t crucial to your work (such as all those dirty coffee mugs) so that you’re left with the bare essentials, and store things that you only need intermittently out of sight. They might not seem like distractions, but everything in your field of vision that isn’t related to work can take your mind off it.

Routine

Some offices have been working remotely for around eight weeks now – that’s enough time to form a comfortable routine. But it’s also been long enough to fall out of that routine if your motivation is in a downward spiral. Try planning your days in a diary and sticking to a solid routine. Or change it up, if you haven’t already. If you normally exercise before or after work, for example, try exercising on your lunch break to help break up the day.

Reconnect

The novelty of Zoom meetings and conference calls has now well and truly worn off. Take stock of who you might have lost touch with in the office and spend some time reaching out to your colleagues. A good way to regain focus is to have a quick chat with everyone about how they’ve been and what they’re working on. It’ll help give you ideas, fuel some collaboration and regain your sense of community in the workplace. Working from home can sometimes feel like you’re riding solo, so make a conscious effort to reconnect with as many people from the office as you can.

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