So you had a solid few months off work, or maybe you were working from home and now you’re returning to work in some form. Whatever this situation looks like for you, let’s get real it’s been a challenging last few months for generally everyone. I personally was laid off for three months and I spent a lot of time focusing on my health, staying active to keep sane and doing my best not to go stir crazy with my boyfriend in our cozy apartment.
While I tried to find ways to keep busy in the comfort of my own home (or outside and socially distanced), the return back to work has been an exciting and interesting experience. I managed to get a new job during quarantine (shoutout zoom calling) and I was not expecting it. My return back to work would be a different one as I was no longer working as a bartender and moving into an office job in my area of my studies. So not only was I going back to work, but it was in a completely different setting. Staying productive the last two months has not always been easy. I’ll be completely transparent that I was quite anxious to return back to a set schedule after having a few months off. With everything that has gone on in the last few months it is important to check in with yourself and see how you are doing. This is why I wanted to share the tips and tricks that have helped me stay on track and regain focus after being out of my regular routine for so long. If you are reading this and are relating to what I am feeling, keep on reading I got you!
8 tips to help you stay productive and on track returning back to work...
1. Write down a schedule and stick to it
This may seem like a very simple task but I can vouch on how effective this was for me. I got into the habit of curating a master list on a notepad of all the tasks I need to complete by the end of the day. As I finish them, I cross them off as I go. The list is ranked by priority from top to bottom and I estimate how much time I need to allocate to each task. I like having a physical list in front of me to cross off, the less screen time the better, it truly makes me feel accomplished crossing off tasks. It also helps me stay organized, and if I do not manage to get everything done that day I know exactly where I need to start tomorrow.
2. Take breaks when you need to
Realistically, no one can actually work 8 hours straight without needing a break or dozing off. I try my best to listen to my body and take breaks when I know I need one. Each day is different and here is a little secret I’ll let you in on, you won’t be able to be extremely productive and get everything done… and that’s okay! Some days you’ll be more productive than others, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Life happens, sometimes we don’t get enough sleep, we have conflict in our personal life that has us distracted, we feel unmotivated, we aren’t always killing it and that is okay. I’ll say it one more time, TAKE A BREAK WHEN YOU FEEL YOU NEED ONE! Even two minutes of breath-work can make a huge difference in your mental capacity in that moment. Here is a link to a video I've tried that has helped me get back on track.
3. Clean up your work space
If you have slight OCD like me, having a clean work-space is essential. Everything on my desk has a place and it helps me feel more comfortable and motivated. If you are working from home, I suggest having a designated workspace that you keep clean with everything you need being accessible. (Stay tuned for a working from home blog post coming soon)
4. Essential oils on-deck at work, trust me this will make a difference.
Something I’ve added into my routine is by spraying on my favourite mister or roll-on. Resilience ritual has been my go-to spray lately. It is so refreshing with the oil of clove and eucalyptus. I spray resilience ritual first, then I roll-on, heal and take a few deep breaths. This helps me recenter myself, my emotions and thoughts and gives me a chance to metaphorically and quite literally catch my breath. It is so important to take moments for yourself on your work day. I find this routine helps me when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated at work. You are not a machine, but a human being with cognitive emotions and needs, isn’t it funny how we have to remind ourselves that. I have noticed a significant difference since having essential oils as a part of my routine.
5. Write down your ideas, make a vision board (online or on paper)
Sometimes my mind feels like it is racing a million miles a minute with all the thoughts and ideas I have. One thing I enjoy doing that keeps me motivated is jotting down random ideas that come to mind, either on paper, a note on your phone or laptop, or even on a physical space like a vision board. We have a few vision boards in our office and I find it helps to write down a thought, turn it into a plausible idea, marinate and manifest and make it happen. You feel so accomplished when you look back to that little thought you had and turned it into an idea.
I also find this helpful because when you write down an idea or a desire to achieve a certain goal, if you ever begin to feel unmotivated or like it's unattainable, it is nice to revisit that initial thought. Having it up somewhere helps remind you of the intention you had behind that vision for yourself. To me, that is the true manifestation. You take the time to envision a goal for yourself, and you do whatever means possible to make it become your reality. Having this in the workplace has been extremely helpful for when I feel I need to get back on track. I like to remind myself to 'remember why you started in the first place'.
6. Stretch and Hydrate
A big thing I try to do if I am feeling tired or unmotivated is to stop and stretch! Moving your body when you are stuck in a chair all day feels good. Here are some links to a few good quick office stretches. I like to spray morning vibe before I stretch and inhale extra deep to help make my body feel relaxed.
I never go to work without a water bottle and I try to set realistic goals of finishing my water three times a day. I use a Corkcicle water bottle that my friends make fun of me for bringing everywhere. I once brought it out to dinner by accident, because it is constantly glued to my hands (true story).
7. Take breaks away from your screen and wear blue light glasses if you work with a screen all day.
It may seem a tad comedic that a few tips out of this list for productivity at work have to do with breaks; taking time away from your screen is so important. I do all my work on my laptop and phone, so when I take a break and check my phone for personal reasons, I am on a screen all day. It is not good for you, nor should you be glued to your screens. Sometimes I even take a few steps outside to get some fresh air to help me regain focus.
I also have a blue light lens in my prescription glasses, which make a difference. Even if you don’t have prescription glasses I recommend using blue light lens glasses when you work with screens to protect your eye health and reduce the chance of migraines, headaches and fatigue. Mine are from Bailey Nelson, I will link them here.
8. Balance your personal life with work-life (You deserve it)
Here is one of the most important tips I can give you, if it is possible for you please try to separate your work from your personal life. For my first month back at work I found the only thing I talked about was work and truly focused on was work. I think this had a lot to do with how many changes I was going through coming out of self isolation and social distancing. Your job is a part of your life, but it does not define you. I find when I give myself more balance, I work harder at work and I have more fun in social settings and when I have my free-time.
I think there is a tendency to have your job run your entire life, but you are in fact a person not just a digital marketer, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a Starbucks barista, those are job titles not a definition of you who are. This is why creating a balance is crucial. I worked like crazy during my undergrad, because I had too. I was supporting myself and my education. I honestly did not take a break for at least 3 years and it was extremely unhealthy. I had no time for myself, I constantly felt exhausted and it really wore me down mentally. I truly believe that I could have performed better in some aspects of my life during these years, but I choose to give myself compassion because I know I had good intentions to get me to where I am, and where I am headed. Balance is everything.
I hope these tips can help you feel motivated going back into whatever work looks like for you. If I could encompass all of these tips into one overall theme, it would be to give yourself more compassion when it comes to your work life, practicing these tips daily has helped me feel more productive and motivated in my work space. All of these steps are considered actions of self care, which I believe can and should exist in the workplace.
It is okay to not be on it at all times and you will have days you feel on top of the world and others where you are counting down the minutes till the end of the day. Listen to your body and needs and try to find a healthy balance that works for you, I strongly feel this will help you achieve a stronger work ethic. Self care is something I have started to take more seriously this past year and I have truly felt the benefits on my emotional wellbeing. I hope you can do the same for yourself, you deserve it.