How to stay motivated when you work from home

Here are a few solutions that may help you push through stress-related fatigue to get things done on time.

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I think it's fair to say that most humans are stressed out at the moment. In most countries, life has changed almost overnight and no matter how strong you think you are, managing transformation is challenging at the best of times.

I’ve identified a few solutions that may help you push through that growing sense of fatigue to get things done.

Take work home

It seems that fewer than 50% of pupils in some U.S. schools are taking part in online learning sessions. This means they aren’t logging in, they aren’t completing assignments and they aren’t learning. This is particularly the case among low-income students for whom access to technology may be difficult.

The situation may reflect the digital divide, but may also reflect demoralization across many families who have seen income wiped out, for whom keeping food on the table and paying rent may have become bigger challenges than ensuring school homework is done on time.

I raise this to illustrate that when you and your employees are worrying about too many problems at once it becomes much harder to focus. (Sleep patterns also suffer.)

In this challenging environment, how can you keep motivated?

Neuroscientists suggest maintaining levels of dopamine in your brain may help. That means eating the right foods, taking exercise, meditation, listening to music (which is where Apple Music comes into its own) and getting a decent night’s sleep (Sleep Cycle) may help.

Psychologists argue that handling the additional stress of working from home in a pandemic requires all those things, and sensible use of tools, including:

Keep a stress diary

Record thoughts about your environment, where you are, and how you feel using What’s Up? Note when you eat, drink, who you speak with, exercise and work achievements. The idea is that in this way you can figure out where your stress points are, which may help you handle them better.

Stay healthy

There comes a point when you’ll recognize that grabbing a drink at midday probably isn’t helping. Exercise, meditation, hobbies – find active things to do with your time. Eat well. Sleep. (Suggestions below).

Agree on boundaries

Just because you are at home all day doesn’t mean you are available to work all day. Agree to set hours of availability and stick to them. (I’ve looked at some suggestions around this here). This also works with your family – you need to clarify when you are available and when you are not. It is also helpful to agree on daily, weekly and longer-term goals with your employer so that you can better autonomously manage your time.

Build a support network

Those conversations you have with friends and family in restaurants, bars or on the street don’t need to stop when you’re self-isolating – just contact your people on FaceTime.

With these suggestions in mind, I’ve identified a selection of iOS tools that may help you take control of working from home while also helping you make the best of the motivation you still have available to you.

Don’t be too frustrated if you’re not as motivated as normal – it really isn’t your fault. Things are happening. They are quite frightening. You are already doing what you can to challenge them by staying at home.

Cut yourself some slack first and then see if these (mostly free) tools help you feel a little more in control.

Eat right with Foodplanner

Assuming you can find the ingredients, FoodPlanner lets you find healthy recipes you like the sound of online. Add them into the app and it generates nutritional data, creates a shopping list (including inventory management features to help you track ingredients you already have) and creates meal plans for the next week or more.

Foodplanner doesn’t aim to pester you into exercise, it lets you choose the food you want and then gives you the information you need in order to make it.

(NB: Planning meals for the next seven days doesn’t work for everyone, but as mealtime inevitably becomes more important as a break to the monotony of lockdown, people will likely enjoy the sense of security that coes from knowing what’s coming.)

Exercise, yoga and meditation

You’re spoiled for choice with exercise apps. If you use Apple Watch, you already have an Activity viewer to show whether you are getting enough exercise. You’ll find home workout applications for all tastes at the App Store – it’s very much a place where you can select the solution that works best for you.

Honorable mention should go to Californian developer, Down Dog, which is offering its health and fitness apps for free until May 1 to help people through the pandemic. These include the most popular yoga app on the store and the always popular 7 Minute Workout. While there are many solutions for yoga, I find Yoga for Beginners works well for me.  

Finally, there’s meditation. I use Buddhify ($5), which helps retain some elements of mindfulness. The 40 minutes I spend using these apps each day seem to help maintain some form of mental alertness.

Managing and setting goals

There’s two ways of looking at goals when you’re working from home. On the one hand you’ll need tools with which to agree on work goals with management and colleagues, while you’ll also require tools to help you feel like you’re in control of your daily objectives.

Two of my favorite work goal tools happen to be the most widely used solutions, Trello and Slack. But when it comes to personal goal management, Strides is difficult to beat. Not only is the latter easy to navigate, but it delivers time-based achievement reports and can track everything you’re trying to get done. It also offers reminders, which makes it a useful tool for managing your personal, family and professional life when working from home. The Merlin Project is also worth a look.

More info for remote workers

I’m attempting to compile a series of reports that will help you manage the complex and unpredictable challenges wrought by the pandemic. Please explore these, and do make contact if you have ideas for additional topics.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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