The current pandemic is putting the spotlight on mental health and wellbeing like never before, as lockdowns, social distancing, and self-isolation are leading to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit health policy organisation, almost half (45%) of people in the US say the stress of COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health.
As many of us worry about the effects of coronavirus on ourselves, our loved ones, and our livelihoods, it can at times feel difficult to stay motivated at work. And for those who are struggling to adjust to enforced home working or who already live with mental health concerns, it can feel almost impossible.
If you or your team members are losing motivation, here are a few tips on how to overcome this mental barrier and start being more productive:
Regulate how much time you spend reading the news
It can be easy to get caught up in rolling news coverage, to the point where you’ve spent hours absorbing angsty news articles and are left feeling deflated. Whilst it’s important to keep up-to-date with current events, re-reading the same news articles and keeping 24-hour TV news channels on in the background is counterproductive, and will do nothing for your wellbeing or motivation levels.
Limiting how much time you spend consuming the news can help you avoid feelings of negativity, and keep you focussed and energised. Mental health charity Mind recommends taking regular breaks from the news if you’re feeling anxious.
Restricting the number of news sources you visit can help too, so that you have less places to check. Or better yet, you could use your company intranet to build a dashboard that consolidates various informational sources into a single location. You can add Twitter feeds that pull in important advice and facts from official health bodies; create buttons that link to external government pages; and embed news feeds that summarise the day’s events. Segmenting pandemic-related data, and making sure you only check it once or twice a day, will free-up valuable headspace and keep you motivated.
Create a dedicated COVID-19 page to keep information in one place
Schedule virtual daily standups
If you work in an agile team, you’ll be used to having daily standups in the office. (If you’re unfamiliar, daily standups are quick-fire meetings where everyone gives a status update on what they’re working on – and to keep them short, everyone literally stands up!).
Whether you’re acquainted with daily standups or not, by scheduling a virtual catch up every morning you can share any project blockers or issues you may be experiencing. If you’re stuck on a particular task and have lost motivation, talking it through with your coworkers can spark innovation and reignite your productivity. Capture these conversations and any other feedback using collaboration tools, so that you have a dedicated space to curate ideas and revisit them whenever you need.
Virtual standups also give you the chance to catch up with your colleagues. The simple act of saying “good morning” and sharing a cup of tea or coffee over video – just like you would in the office – can add structure and a sense of normality, putting you in a positive and productive frame of mind for the rest of the day.
Stay connected with your coworkers by scheduling daily standups
Keep a to-do list to track progress
If you can’t pinpoint where you are or where you’re heading, it can lead to lack of motivation. The current lockdown will no doubt be amplifying this feeling; when movement outside our own homes is limited, it’s easy to feel that every day is the same.
That’s why it’s so important to keep track of your progress, set goals, and celebrate milestones when you reach them. A simple task list that you can check off whenever you’ve achieved something gives you tangible evidence that you’re making progress, which will help elevate your mood and boost motivation.
If you’re working in a team, create a collaborative project space where everyone can assign tasks – either to themselves or others – and mark them as “done” when completed. A progress bar gives a visual cue that projects are moving forward.
Use collaborative project spaces to keep track of progress
Make sure you celebrate successes, even for small wins. Recognising achievements with rewards is a known motivator, and will boost engagement and productivity for future projects too. Creating a company culture that focuses on staff achievements and positive news will do wonders for morale and motivation, especially during these uncertain times.