Working and living in the same space can really mess with your routine. Waking up, looking at the same walls, blending work and play under one roof day in and day out — the mundanity makes it hard to stay enthusiastic about our goals. Focus wanes. Motivation starts to drift away. Energy comes at a premium. And as a result, our daily productivity spirals into a long and slow decline.
Like we say in The ONE Thing, willpower isn’t on will-call. Everyone has a rhythm of productivity that if used at the right time, gives them what they need to tackle their ONE Thing. But when our routines are shaken up, it can be tough to tap into that willpower when its available. (Or to even know when it’s available anymore.)
It’s times like these when we have to build systems in our lives that keep us on the right track. In lieu of going back to the way we used to do things, we have to make do. To help you out, here are three strategies that we’ve used to keep our energy and focus up while we continue to work from home.
Rediscover Your First Domino
One thing I began to notice about a month into working from home was that a lot of the joy or sense of accomplishment I received from knocking down my goals began to disappear.
I had built some solid habits that supported my goals, but because I had largely been stuck at home, I felt like I was being lazy when I engaged with them. I hadn’t realized that up until this point, a lot of my personal goals and habits were structured around “wind down” time. And without going anywhere throughout the day, like to the office or at the gym, I felt I had nothing to wind down from. I hadn’t earned the right. So, naturally, I disconnected from the activities I used in the past to help me recharge.
I had let a cornerstone habit slip. And in doing so, I disrupted my ability to engage in the other habits I had already built. In order to get back on track, I realized I needed to build another habit that, once completed, would give me a sense of permission to continue to work toward my goals.
If you’re also finding it difficult to stay focused on the habits you’ve already built, do a little introspective searching. Is there anything you were doing before that you were unaware of that energized you into engaging in those habits? It just might be the case that you need to go back and build a better foundation so you can continue to move forward!
Try Moving Things Around
As soon as we get locked into a certain way of doing things, it becomes harder to make meaningful changes. One of the reasons why is when we build habits, we naturally configure our environment to support those habits.
When we suddenly shift to working from home, we clumsily combine two separate environments with two different triggers that enable different types of habits. Before, our work environments might have triggered our focus because we created a space that is designed for us to focus on work. We’re surrounded by our co-workers who are working. We’re surrounded by the right equipment. We aren’t in arms reach of a remote control. All we had to do was pop on some headphones and get down to work. At the end of the workday we’d head home, maybe change our clothes or kick off our shoes — signaling it was time to stop working and to start playing.
Now, we might not be able to wear headphones because we need to listen for our children, or we may find ourselves completing our work tasks in sweatpants on the couch. But we can still reconfigure our environment to us switch between our different areas of focus.
Getting showered and dressed for work in the morning is a great place to start. After that, consider rearranging your workspace. Take account of what’s on your desk. Mix and match items that might serve as environmental cues. Try moving the whole desk to another part of the house, see how it feels. Rearrange the living room—put your couch at a different angle. Think about what pulls you from your focus and try to distance your workspace from that object. Do your best to organize your living space in a way that will keep you on point.
If you feel the urge to move everything around, that’s not a bad idea either. A fresh perspective and a new environment just might do the trick to keep you focused and engaged.
Create a Sense of Responsibility
Sometimes you have to connect what you want to accomplish to something larger than yourself to keep yourself accountable to your habits and goals.
One of our team members has a monthly goal related to reading books. In order to keep her energized and focused on her goal while working from home, she created a virtual book club. The extra measure of accountability she created (having people expect her to read and lead discussion) has helped provide that extra spark to keep her motivated.
Beyond the simple repercussion of showing up unprepared, working in our goals and habits into a larger scope gives us something to look forward to.
Prior to lock-down, it’s safe to say that we built our habits around our daily routines without even thinking about it. Each routine, whether it was showering or picking our kids up from daycare served as a pivotal marker for when we should reset and engage in our habits. By building new triggers around our habits, we can help create a greater sense of urgency and responsibility to engage in them.
What strategies have you used to boost your focus and enthusiasm? Jump into the conversation and share them on The ONE Thing Community Facebook page.