Starting To Feel Sluggish? Here’s How To Curb That WFH Slump

Ways to combat that ever-present 'meh' feeling when facing into another week of working from home.

Like many right now, I’m finding it hard to digest the fact that March marks my one year anniversary of working from home. I joined team STELLAR last March and so, I’ve spent the entirety of my job working remotely from my sitting room, a mere 20 minutes down the road from my “would be, maybe someday will be” office.

I learned the ropes of my job virtually, built relationships with my colleagues virtually, watched other colleagues come and go, yep, you guessed it – virtually, and so, it feels quite overwhelming to be marking 12 months in my job from the desk in my gaff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m very fortunate and grateful to have a job, and one I adore doing at that. But one year working from home is a milestone that I’m sure none of us thought we’d hit when we were first told to pack our bags and login from home. I actually remember people even tweeting about leaving lunch and bloody bananas on their office tables which just goes to show how temporary the situation felt back then.

Nobody predicted what was around the corner and now, as we find ourselves back in level 5, it’s easy to feel engulfed in déjà-vu. School closures, busy households and working from home for the foreseeable can lead to feelings of stress and a total lack of motivation. So, where do we go from here?

“All you can do is control the controllables that can set you up for success while working from home,” explains career coach, Angela Burke @theintegrativecoach. “A good working day routine is key for ensuring the day goes the way you want it to. People often find it tough to get going in the mornings so, planning your day the evening before will get you off to a focused start. These days more than ever we need something to look forward to, so planning your daily and weekly rewards is just as important as also planning a catch up with your boss.”

Adding to that, Angela puts emphasises on the importance of planning – not only when you’re looking for motivation and structure for your week ahead, but when you’re hoping to drive your career forward from home. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that career progression can only occur if your boss (literally) sees you doing good work, but Angela notes that this isn’t always the case. “While it’s not the norm for a lot of us, growing a career virtually has been the norm for years for those who work on global teams. It takes a little pivoting and mindfulness but you can absolutely continue to progress your career from home,” explains Angela.

And while your home setup might not resemble the environment you’re used to receiving promotions and praise in, the work you’re doing from home is just as valuable, the hours you’re putting in are just as important and your ability to adapt and continue doing your job during this current climate is something you should be extremely proud of. So, if you’re lacking drive because you think your role is of less importance at home, it’s time to remind yourself of your value and what you’re striving to achieve – just as you would in the office.

“Before you finish work each evening, jot down a list of outstanding tasks and decide which tasks you’re going to prioritise the next day to support your progress both in the short term and long term of your career growth,” says Angela. “Avoid the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ materialising by proactively keeping your stakeholders and managers up to date on your deliverables. Scheduling these update calls with management actually serves as accountability for you to ensure you complete the work you committed to in time before each call. Most importantly, while working remotely make sure to keep the virtual lines of communication open with management about your desires when it comes to career progression and take time to understand your managers expectations so you can factor them into your roadmap,” she adds.

And sure, let’s be realistic, not every day is going to a goal smashing, virtual high-fiving your boss sort of situation, I mean, that’s a bit much. But it’s certainly not time to throw in the towel and succumb to “I’m just here passing time with no benefit” mindset either. As the WFH sitch is now set to continue well into 2021 – at the very least, investing in a good work space at home is an important step. Carving out an office space at home where possible, or even buying a small, but sturdy desk will help you feel like you have a good base from where you can work from. “Even changing the direction of your desk every quarter so you’ve a slightly different view can freshen things up,” explains Angela. “Re-arranging your plants and switching up the hand cream on your desk can give a little variety too. Personally, I love having different essential oils on my desk from week to week, while some people like to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day also which can help overcome the afternoon slump.”

Finding what works best for you is a case of trial and error when striving for that perfect work-life balance under the one roof. Sometimes going for a walk in the morning and the evening can help to wake you up and equally, wind you down as it mirrors a commute. While most people will also tell you how important it is to switch off your email notifications when your working day is done so you don’t over-hustle and burn yourself out. Another great tip that Angela notes is to totally pack up your laptop after each working day or to keep your “office setup in the corner of the room so it doesn’t interfere with your evening and weekend,” setting boundaries between your job and your fun, out of office life will help you to see them both separately and not as one traumatising remix.

However, if you’re still struggling to make the situation work for you, don’t be afraid to communicate your thoughts, chat to a friend, a roommate, or pencil in some time with your boss and explain what’s going on. “I think 2020 really encouraged us all to become more compassionate and understanding in the workplace so it’s worth thinking about having an upfront conversation with your manager and colleagues about your needs and boundaries too,” adds Angela. Remember that all you can do is your best, we’re living through the most bizarre time (ever!), nobody has got it figured out, so don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re doing just fine.

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