Work can be stressful and tiresome, especially these days — it can be hard to find motivation in the midst of current events. And when I’m working, I can’t always reach the same level of productivity that I have in the past. Why is that?
I can’t speak for other people, but at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, my life immediately transitioned into the exact same routine day after day. With everything closed, I stayed at home all the time, and there was nothing to differentiate one day from the next. Businesses are now opening up again, but there’s still not much variety in my days. It’s all the same routine.
Don’t get me wrong — schedules and routines are good. But the routines of my normal, pre-Covid life (my commute, spontaneous conversations with coworkers, going out for lunch, etc.) had a good amount of variance. My current life has a much more extreme routine. For some people, that may be perfectly fine. But I needed to switch things up. Once I started changing parts of my routine, my happiness and productivity increased dramatically.
I recognize that it’s a little privileged to just say, “If you’re not happy at work, change your working conditions.” Not everybody has the same level of flexibility. Perhaps you need to work 9:00–5:00 every day, and there’s no way to change that. But even if that’s not a lever you can pull, you may be able to find something else. Whether it’s your environment, schedule, or even just the arrangement of your desk, there’s always something you can change.
Here are a few things that I’ve tried, with various levels of success:
- Change Your Location – Work from another part of your house, apartment, or bedroom. Or go to another location entirely. If you have a conference call, consider taking a walk.
- Change When You Work – Wake up earlier, wake up later, or work in the evening. Some of my best days recently have been when I start working two hours before or after my typical start time.
- Take Breaks – I usually work through lunch, but recently I’ve been taking some time off to have a virtual lunch with coworkers, watch some TV, or work out.
- Reorganize Your Workspace – I took this opportunity to purchase some equipment and set up a real home office (after years of using the couch or kitchen table when I occasionally worked from home). Setting up this space feels great, and new equipment is always exciting!
- Take Some Time Off (If You Can) – If you can spare some time off, a three-day weekend (or more) can be a great way to de-stress and restart.
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to change your routine. Have you tried changing something, and do you have any other ideas?