Are you feeling the January blues? It’s bleak outside, and you lack the motivation to kick start your New Year resolutions plus you’re stuck at home working. After spending the majority of 2020 working from home (WFH), the novelty of WFH has worn off. Without the re-assuring repetitiveness of your daily commute and the friendly banter from your co-workers, you may be feeling down and demotivated.
Feel Good Contacts has teamed up business psychologist Jan P. de Jonge to offer some tips on how to keep the January WFH blues at bay:
New Year Resolutions
Make sure that you understand what your longer-term goal is that’s behind your New Year’s resolution. What impact are you looking for? If you then manage to find the motivation to make a New Year’s Resolution, make sure your resolve is manageable and achievable. In other words, set yourself a goal that is quite easy. This will help you make a start, and it increases the likelihood of you sustaining the effort beyond the first few weeks of the new year.
Feeling as prepared as possible will help you feel less nervous and more confident. At the beginning of each week, make a work schedule. Of course, things are bound to come up at the last moment but outlining a list of tasks will stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Schedule no more than 90% of your time instead of 100%; some unexpected tasks are bound to appear, and some jobs take longer than expected. Planned flexibility is part of being prepared.
Create a routine
Structure makes our brains happy because the patterns and routines we don’t have to think about will allow our brain to go into autopilot. Establishing a set routine (with some room for flexibility) will give your day some structure. This should make you more efficient, productive and hopefully more at ease in these uncertain times.
A routine is just as important for your mental health as it is for your productivity levels. It can be as simple as getting up at the same time every day, reading a book or doing a workout, making a coffee and breakfast, then setting down to start your workday.
Personalise the routine to work for you. As long as you are consistent and the routine loosely mimics the one you had when you were at the office, it should work for you.
Even if you put on sweatpants and a jumper, putting on your daytime clothes will make a big difference to your mindset. If you work in your pyjamas, you’ll still be in ‘relax mode’ which won’t make you feel motivated to get things done.
You don’t have to put clothes on that will make you uncomfortable like jeans, comfort is the aim, just make sure they are clothes you would actually wear outside. The added bonus of this is that when you leave the house to get food or do some exercise, you’ll already be ready.
Designate a workspace
If you work in bed you may be comfortable – although not for long as you may develop back issues – however, your mind probably won’t be in ‘work mode’. If you don’t have a desk, the dining room table or even the sofa are better places to work than your bed.
It’s good to talk
You can’t turn around to your boss and ask that quick question when you’re not in the office. Communication is even more important when the only way to contact your co-workers is online or through the phone. Regular meetings via video chat will help you all to be on the same page about all of the projects you’re working on.
Whenever you are feeling anxious, stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths to help you to stay calm. Concentrate on your breathing. Count to ten. Remind yourself that you are a valued member of the team.
Seeing the same four walls non-stop isn’t good for anyone. Exercise will stop you feeling lethargic from sitting on your rump all day. Try and go for a walk or a run early before the start of the day. Another option is to exercise at lunchtime to refresh yourself in the middle of the day. If you can find time for more exercise, then why not try some deskercise?
It’s important to have the right level of room lighting. I appreciate that it’s a fine line between good lighting that provides enough illumination and bright lighting that borders on glare. You need comfortable lighting to be able to see all kinds of documents, but these must be ones that will not blind you. Also, the lighting should not be too dim as this will make you feel sleepy and less productive.
Stick to your work hours
We are well aware of how bad screen time can be for your health. So, unless you have a particular deadline that you need to hit, you should stick to your structured work hours as much as possible. It’s important to be able to relax after your workday and not keep thinking about work. This is easier to do if you shut the laptop and ignore your emails from the moment your workday ends.
Finally, try to organise fun and relaxing things for yourself to do after work, like having a bath, a video chat or reading a book to help you slip more easily into ‘relax mode’.