I’ve been working from home since 2006. Here are my thoughts on how to work from home and stay motivated during the lockdown (quarantine, social/physical distancing, call it what you will!)
First, I’ll tell you a bit about … me!
I’ve been living in beautiful northern Thailand for over 5 years now, in the city of Chiang Mai. I’m male, 51, single, and happy (go figure!) I’ve nearly finished the third week of lockdown.
I’ve been staying in my apartment reading, working, playing guitar, making videos, meditating, communicating with peeps on my computer, and trying to avoid “virus news” (virus news, that’s quite a good term for all news!)
Everyday I pop out to buy food and have a chat with someone I know. Maybe I’ll only have a one minute conversation with the person selling me the food – but, hey, I’ll take it!
So, things are kinda OK. Every time I feel like moaning, I think how much worse this must be for some people and try to count my blessings.
Here’s a view from my balcony taken on various days during lockdown.
Remember, we are all different! What works for me may not work for you. I’m one of those types that likes freedom and doesn’t like rules.
If you have a different character to me then you will need to follow stricter rules. For example, set yourself proper working hours like 9 to 5, which is not something I’d ever do but it works for some people.
There’s no right way and wrong way to do this. However, the following works for me and many others.
I focus on achieving daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and even yearly goals. I always try to make sure that I’ve got something finished everyday. May it be editing a video, writing a blog post, or developing a product, etc.
Setting goals is like a map that I follow to get to where I’m going. I always give myself a month to create and publish a two hour online course, and a month to write 15,000 words of a book, for example.
Do I always achieve these goals? Not always, no. But, if I create and publish an online course in five weeks, that’s still a big win.
Goals = motivation
Remember, make your goals SMART. That’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and, of course, Time-bound.
Nowadays, I allot 30-45 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning. This is going to be critically useful during lockdown.
I started meditating in 2003. (I stopped between 2006-12, don’t ask why!)
All I did was sit down, closed my eyes, and concentrated on the sensations within my body while I was breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, … etc.
And I did that for only 2 minutes at first. But I tried to do it for a little bit longer everyday. Then 5 minutes a day turned in to 10 minutes a day, then 15 minutes a day, and then 20 minutes a day, etc.
Now, 45 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, although my rear end starts complaining!
This daily routine allows me to maintain my mental and emotional health. It really keeps me happy and it helps with focus as well.
I believe that “you are what you eat”. I try to eat and drink healthily. Certainly, during lockdown this is a challenge.
Exercise is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health. It gives you energy and strengthens your immune system.
Ideally, you should try to do 20-30 minutes of anaerobic exercise every other day. Anaerobic exercise is the type of exercise that gets you winded and out of breath – walking, running, swimming, etc. Stretching and a little lifting is good too.
This is very hard for some people, especially during lockdown. But, just like meditation, you should start with just a few minutes a day. Don’t expect to hit the ground running. But try to keep with the habit. If you do it consistently for a few weeks, it may last a lifetime (and could lengthen your life as well).
I find hobbies are an antidote to getting stressed over work or “virus news”.
I used to play guitar and sing in open mic’s in Chiang Mai. Re-discovering the beauty of making music with other people has been one of the best things recently.
Alas, this is a thing of the past, of course, as all the bars closed weeks ago.
Now, I have only myself as my audience. Every few days, I learn a new song or a new guitar technique. Whatever your hobby is, you’ve got to make time for it.
When you’re working from home on your own business it’s essential to get out there and meet other entrepreneurs. In normal times this means hooking up with your local Chamber of Commerce, using Meetup.com or meeting like-minded people online through Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and forming masterminds and accountability buddies.
During the lockdown most of us are experiencing this is, of course, impossible. However, you can make up for it with Zoom meetings, Skype calls, and FaceTime, etc.
Keeping in touch with friends and family is especially important these days. It wouldn’t hurt to look up and old friend you haven’t seen in ages, as well.
Reduce distractions and focus
Working from home on a computer put many distractions in your way. You must identify what distracts you, and learn how to mitigate these distractions.
Here are some free tools to help you focus and reduce distractions:
- Freedom.to – stops social media sites informing you of certain updates or alerts.
- Inbox Pause – stops notifications every time you have a new e-mail.
- News Feed Eradicator for Facebook (Chrome Extension) – removes the Facebook newsfeed (the worst distraction ever) from your browser. You still get the usual alerts and messages, it just frees you from hours and hours of scrolling through dumb cat photos and other rubbish. It works on the Brave browser as well.
- Todobook (Chrome Extension) – similar to the above. It turns the Facebook News Feed into a todo list so you can stop wasting time and start getting things done. Also works for LinkedIn.
- Remove YouTube Recommended Videos, Comments (Chrome Extension) – YouTube videos are great. The recommended videos about conspiracy theories, celebrity tittle tattle, and click-bait bad news aren’t. Nor are the comments from brain dead American teenagers (no offence). This works on Chrome and Brave. There are similar extensions available on Firefox.
You could also use the Pomodoro technique where you work in 25 minute blocks separated with 5 minute downtime or rest.
Set-up a dedicated desk within your home
Your work from home space does not need to be huge, but it must be set-up on an area of your house where you can work alone with minimal distractions.
Feel the vibe where you can work best. If it works for you, that’s the most important thing.
Negativity exists, it’s inevitable, don’t listen to it! There are millions of people in the world that barely know the beauty of working from home. Don’t listen to them.
Avoid “virus news” like the … plague. OK, we all need to educate ourselves about Covid-19 and follow the guidelines and laws of the lands we inhabit. But, watching ad nauseam the news about just how shitty the situation is? Enough already!
Follow your passion
Working from home is not for everyone, but it is for you!
At first, when I decided to transition myself to work from home, many people warned me against it. But I trusted my own will and determination to follow my passion in life.
Best thing ever!
Above is a video of me taking about maintaining motivation whilst working from home alone.
David Dempsey says
Thanks again Rob…my embarrassing workspace looks a bit like yours, so that’s not a reason for not being successful.
I appreciate the tips and a peek into your life. It’s the sort of dynamic balance I seek but will never find in my Public service environment. Your encouragement and simple, practical advice is valued.
Rob Cubbon says
Hey David. Awesome, so pleased someone is as untidy as me. I really hope the article helped.
Fabian Lainez Vidal says
Thanks Rob,, for your time and for your advice ??
Rob Cubbon says
My pleasure, Fabian.
Thanks Rob, v encouraging and will surely help me ‘stay on course’. Funny I started Deepak Chopra’s 21 day abundance meditation about 15 days ago now – its an ‘easy in’ for us novices – really enjoying it & would recommend. Strikes me that your recommendation for meditation, amongst other great tips, is a wonderful example of Living Synchrodestiny.
Stay safe & sane
Rob Cubbon says
Hello Reinu, thanks for that recommendation. Whatever is and ‘easy in’ and works for you is best! Thank you for your comment.
Jayne Willingale says
Cheers for the share Rob – the ‘Messy Desk Syndrome’ is not exclusive to males! I have the nickname of ‘Messy Desk Woman’. Every so often I have a ‘tidy’, and then can’t find anything! I think it is a ‘publishing’ trait, as all the publishers I know are the same! Lol.
I have to say that if it wasn’t for the fact that my husband is recovering from a major op (and fortunately home now), I would hardly notice the difference in my day-to-day routine – oh apart from the extremely noisy ‘brats’ next door! It seems some people cannot read the ‘rules’.
I have always loved working from home, though the older I got the harder I find it to stick to goals. Note to self – must work on that bit!
Stay safe everyone. 🙂
Rob Cubbon says
Haha, glad to hear messy desk syndrome isn’t a completely male issue! Sorry to hear about your husband. And, yes, I guess us “work from homers” are dealing with this period by saying “well, not a great deal has changed”, there’s just more depressing stuff on the news and the neighbors are at home more! Hmmm, “the older I got the harder I find it to stick to goals” – I could say the same about me too!
Pete Miller says
do you use a second screen, Rob?; I find it’s essential as it increases productivity enormously. Apple peeps can now use their iPad as a 2nd screen using the ‘sidecar’ option that comes loaded with Catalina OS
Rob Cubbon says
I’ve gotta say I’ve never been a second screen guy, Pete. I migrated from a huge 27 inch iMac to a 15 inch MacBook Pro 5 years ago. I’m kinda used to it now. Good to hear about the iPad as a second screen though. Interesting. I’ve got an iPad mini – bit small though 🙂
A cultural question; do they have home delivery for food in Thailand? Are there any foods you miss from your home country?
Rob Cubbon says
Hi Kimberly, yes we have Food Panda and Grab Food (Grab is like Uber). In fact, if you go outside in the streets these days you pretty much only see food delivery motorcycles. They’re everywhere!
“Are there any foods you miss from your home country?” H’mmm, I can pretty much get everything I want here. Before lockdown, I would eat Thai food mostly so I wouldn’t put on weight. Bear in mind, I’m from the UK which isn’t famous for great cuisine. However, since lockdown I’ve been more likely to get fattening European food delivered and I’m not feeling so healthy! I can get Mexican, Greek, India, Italian, etc., not to mention various Asian food. If there’s one thing I miss is good fresh bread and cheese and good wine as well – you can get it but it’s expensive.
Some really good advice in here. I’m a big advocate of meditation to start the day too. I’ve actually just started a week long (free) challenge for my runners to teach them mindfulness and how to apply it to their running.
I’m also a guitar player and as I’m currently on lockdown/under quarantine (with mild symptoms) I can’t leave the house at the moment. So I’m very grateful that I have my guitar to play – it’s been a real pleasure in challenging times.
Best wishes to you – hope you stay safe & healthy.
Rob Cubbon says
Hey Coach D, thank you so much. I’ve got to say, Dave, your website, brand and clarity of message are awesome and right on point. Looks like your meditation and exercise regimes are paying off. 😉 And, your guitar skills are improving as well! More importantly, get well soon. (I’m sure you will). And I hope you’re back running outside in the fresh air before too long. 🙂 Thank you for your comment.
Bruce Jones says
I like the toilet paper on the desk. you are a real person. good post. I have been using the time to catch up. Organizing my passwords is a much-needed task that I have been able to take on during this time. Almost done. Those of us who own our own businesses have way to many passwords. This is really a catch up time for those work and home projects
be safe, bruce
Rob Cubbon says
Hey Bruce, good to hear from you again. It’s a good time at the moment to do the important things that aren’t urgent but still important. Improving passwords and security is a great example of that. Stay safe. PS. The toilet paper was there to mop up some water spilt on the desk (I don’t know why I felt I should clarify that but I thought I would 😉
here in Ireland we have what is lockdown also .now i have spent a long time trying to get started on line and i found out many things as for the most tutions that a person pays for courses ect when you work it out its simple that 98 percent never make it work .as far as i can see you would need to be a webmaster to have a chance such things as autoresponders have a very hard to figure out how to use them websites again setup hard to work so as i can see some coruses do not give the avarage person the knowledge to get started .so to make a long story short Ihave figured out an other way to get customers you can gues what it is a better sta rtup course rembering its a big world so would you have anything to offer me at a reasonable price happy days lockout should be over.
Marcy Gold says
Thank you for sharing your personal side.
As I was initially searching for other Print On Demand websites that you might be making money from,
I am glad I stumbled across this webpage about what you are doing during lockdown.
I am the female version of you as you described here, except that I like to keep my private life not so public online and I am a very tidy and meticulous person that might irritate you.
Throughout the years, I have tried meditation that never worked. My mind was constantly racing because I worked in a very fast pace, high stressful environment. But that is all in the past. In order for my mind to release anxiety, feel peaceful, calm and free, is to isolate myself from the human race. I have be in a place where it is absolute complete silence, not a sound of a bird chirping (if possible).
Based on the photo of your refrigerator, the drinks look like beer. Do you cook? What kind of food do like? I’m guessing you eat a lot Thai food?
My comments about the things you mentioned:
• Nice to see some photos of you playing guitar & singing with others.
• Human interaction is very crucial. Like the saying goes, “No Man Is An Island.”
• I absolutely agree with you about the “Pomodoro Technique.” I didn’t even know that there was a name for this time management method.
• About you mentioning “Avoid negativity,” I just have to say, that I haven’t watched TV for 2+ years, because it’s a waste of time and I have no desire. I read a lot of tech eBooks. The Covid-19 has now become a political nonsense.
• About “Follow your passion,” I no longer tell people what my passions are, because Americans are very, & I mean very, cynical especially in the female world. From what I’ve experienced throughout the years, I just think men are better at keeping a positive mindset when it comes to reaching their goals more so than women (too emotional). I’m not an emotional woman—meaning someone who cries all the time because their feelings got hurt by what someone said. Being emotional in a workplace is very distracting when the focus is work and not feelings.
I apologize for my long comment.
Rob Cubbon says
No need to apologise for a long comment, Marcy, I apologise for my late response.
It’s very interesting hearing your perspective as a female residing in the US. Everyone’s different! Some people are naturally meticulous, organised, and tidy. Other people, like me, aren’t! But we can still agree on some things to increase motivation and peace of mind. For me, it’s a really interesting subject.
Our situations differ as well. I’m a single guy from the UK living in Thailand – it’s a very different situation from yours and most peoples. Yes, I drink beer and I don’t cook at home. I used to be able to cook but I was never good and, in Thailand where you can get a hot meal in a restaurant for $1, cooking seems unnecessary! I like all sorts of food, including Thai food, although I’m not good with spicy food.
Anyway, you seem to be well on-track, in that you seem to know and understand yourself and know what you want – that’s half the battle.
John Ravi says
It was a great article! I think staying motivated while working from home has become important in the post covid world. I have been struggling with motivation, and I think this article will help me a lot in staying motivated while working remotely. I have been trying to stay motivated, and this resource is the perfect guide of ideas and inspiration on how I can do just that. It was a great share, thanks a lot for curating this.
Rob Cubbon says
Thank you again, John. I have been working from home for a long, long time. I should be able to provide someone with some good ideas about it … well, let’s hope I do!