For many, working from home can feel like a solo mission without a roadmap. Normally mundane decisions like “What time should I start work?” or “When should I take a break?” can become mental roadblocks and limit creativity. To help us navigate this change, we caught up with Rachael Sardelich, Creative Advisor and Meditation extraordinaire. Here are her top tips to keep you motivated and productive when life and work become one.
1. Track Your Wins
Motivation comes from seeing yourself make progress from meaningful work. It is a great feeling when you work your way down a to-do list, ticking things off when you complete them. When we work from home or remotely, it can feel like we aren’t as productive as we usually are. But the reality is, when we aren’t regularly getting coffee with our colleagues or checking in on the latest office news, you will have more time to work through your to-do list.
Creating a list at the start of every day is like setting an intention for what you want to achieve. With every tick off the list, you feel more accomplished. The power of these small victories will keep you feeling and being productive.
2. Your Energy & Focus Are Intrinsically Linked
The key to maintaining focus is to keep energy levels high. We all move through a natural cycle of energy which peaks and dips throughout the day. Doing problem solving tasks in the morning will not be the same as doing these tasks in the afternoon. Our energy fluctuates based on our body clock. We have a limited resource of 3 – 4 hours of our deepest, most focused attention per day.
These pockets of energy should be used in 60 - 120-minute sprints.
As a rule of thumb, between 10am and 12pm our cognitive performance is at its peak. This is the time to tune out distractions and have a single-minded focus on creative projects, problem-solving or developing new skills. Between 2pm and 3pm, our focused attention drops, which makes it the perfect time to conduct less attentive tasks like emails, calls, and admin work. During 4pm and 6pm, our attention pricks back up. This is the best time to fit in meetings, video calls, pitching ideas and interacting with your team and clients online.
During 4pm and 6pm, our attention pricks back up. This is the best time to fit in meetings, video calls, pitching ideas and interacting with your team and clients online.
Everyone has a slightly different energy clock, so track your daily highs and lows and then plan your to do list in accordance with the relevant tasks to maximise your activity levels.
3. Make time for creativity
This point is crucial, yet commonly forgotten. We are all innately creative and require the use of our unique skills to perform well in our work and lives. Cultivating time for rest and reflection in your everyday will power up your focus and output.
When we are in a mode of ‘always busy’ we are in a state of fight or flight (or stress response) that can easily lead us to overwhelm, and a sense that our time is scarce. We experience less insight and future thinking across the board.
When we allow ourselves a mental rest between bouts of focused attention, we quiet the inner critic, make space for creative thinking and create the ability to reflect on the performance of your last task.
All it takes is a walk outside, writing, cooking, or drinking a cup of tea and you will turn on the parts of the brain that drive learning, creativity and confidence.
4. Is technology helping or harming you?
How many apps do you use each day to get through your workload? It’s time to do an audit and reassess whether the apps or online programs you use empower or deplete you. Are they making you more productive or are they just stealing your attention?
Making time to review our dependency on technology can free us from time-consuming, focus-depleting and anxiety-inducing energy zappers. It’s time to take a look at how long you are scrolling social media, reading news apps or playing CandyCrush Saga, and decide whether you can tweak, change or remove anything that is taking you away from the golden time you want to be spending on your work.
5. You are what (and how) you eat
How we nourish our body has everything to do with how we nourish our minds. Eating a high-quality diet rich in vegetables, good fats and premium protein will do wonders for your brainpower, but what we often miss is how we eat.
Working from home often affords us the opportunity to make our food from scratch, and then create time to consciously enjoy it. For your next meal, take yourself away from your work, remove the technology and savour each bite. Your body will thank you for it.
6. Access your superpower
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would be aware of the powerful and undeniable benefits of a regular meditation practice. Finally, modern science has caught up with the ancient sages and meditation is now seen as an antidote for the digital age.
Giving the mind a break by taking it away from focused attention has been found to provide the most potent healing on all mind and body systems. All areas of cognitive function are improved – sleep becomes deeper and regular, stress is purged from the system, and we become more creative and conscious in our everyday lives.
Vedic meditation is one of the most effective and effortless techniques available. By creating space in your day to tap out, recharge and restore the body, you will jump back into your work with focus and ease.
7. Stay connected to your community
Humans are hard-wired for connection. When we are not working in physical proximity to our team, it can be easy to feel disconnected, and at times, lonely. Whether you have been working from home for some time, or if the current climate has pushed you to create a new home-office, connecting with your peers via online chat platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Slack, or simply by phone can be beneficial to our wellbeing. This could be a daily check-in or weekly long chat – either way, connecting with our peers brings a sense of unity, calm and satisfaction to all that we do.