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.