Staying Motivated During the Pandemic - 7 Essential Tips

27 December 2023
6 min read
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One thing that has occupied people’s minds over the last year is staying motivated during the pandemic.

Your pre-Corona routine might have seemed mundane at times, but it was enough to keep you motivated. Now, you’re probably at home thinking “where has my will to do anything gone?”

Well, no one can blame you. Being socially isolated can greatly impact one’s motivation. In addition to that, many of us now have to deal with financial and health worries too (both for ourselves and our loved ones). 

It’s for these exact reasons that we’ve compiled a list of essential tips to help you stay motivated during the pandemic.

Tip #1: Create a Schedule

Routines have traditionally been a reason to complain and this was particularly true pre-pandemic. 

Well, having pretty much every aspect of our lives transported online and inside four walls really put things into perspective, didn’t it? Most of us would take the life we once had back before you can say Corona. 

And even if returning to the office is not part of the excitement for you, you will still need a plan to work remotely successfully.

This is where starting your day with a schedule comes in! 

Your schedule can begin from waking up as you would for work - with an alarm clock - and getting out of your pajamas, to making a list of to-dos to guide you through your day. This list can include anything, from the time you will spend working, exercising, or taking breaks, to the tasks you will complete and the people you will communicate with. 

What you put into your schedule is entirely up to you - what matters is that you put thought into creating one and that it helps you get some order back into your day. 

Read our full guide to find out all you need to know about Coronavirus and Your Career

Tip #2: Disconnect From Your Screen(s)

With almost everything moving online - from work meetings to how we communicate with our friends - stepping away from our digital screen has gained newfound importance. 

Separating work time from you-time is one among many components. It roughly translates into placing strict boundaries between the time you will spend working and the time you will engage in other activities. 

The idea is not to spend more than the necessary eight hours of work in front of the laptop, thinking “let me get a bit more work done tonight.” Chances are you won’t be as productive if you don’t give your eyes and your mind some time to disconnect. 

But it goes further than that - experts suggest that you should preferably step away from your screen(s) during mealtime, as well as before you go to bed and at least for one hour during the day. 

This practice will safeguard your mental health, keep you from getting over-burnt with work and help you stay motivated by giving you a fresh perspective next time you sit in front of your laptop screen. 

Here are 9+ more tips for working from home during the COVID lockdown

Tip #3: Find Time for Exercise & Notice How Good it Feels

We are well aware that not everyone is the gym type. You might not even be a big nature lover, or fond of basic exercising to keep your muscles and joints from getting rusty. 

No matter the case, you’d still get your small share of physical activity from going out before quarantine was imposed - even if you just worked in an office. Extended lockdowns deprived us of those benefits and may have tricked us into thinking that watching Netflix and sitting on the couch all day long doesn’t affect our productivity levels at the least. 

Well, the science hasn’t changed on this one - physical exercise still helps maintain a sane, motivated mind and increases productivity

So, whether you belong with those who don’t quite enjoy it or those who swear by it, it’s good to find time and squeeze some exercising into your routine to stay motivated during the pandemic. 

You don’t even need to sweat up a storm to increase productivity: scale your work-outs according to your own body, but make sure to notice how good both low-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise makes you feel after you finish. 

Taking the time to appreciate how good a little exercise makes you feel and how easily it elevates your energy levels will have you fitting it into your routine without thinking twice. 

Tip #4: Measure Your Work Time & Reward Yourself

If you experience trouble staying focused during work from home or if you have to deal with unwanted interruptions, then following the traditional sit-and-work schedule you had at the office may no longer make you productive. 

What you can do, instead, is break up your work tasks into time-measurable chunks. You could, for example, do five rounds of 30-minute work, followed by 5-10 minute breaks. After that, allow yourself a longer break of, say, 15-30 minutes. 

These chunks are not set in stone - again, scale them according to your efficiency levels and feel free to change them based on how much work you need to get done. Some days might even take 1-hour uninterrupted work time before those 10-minute breaks. 

And when we say uninterrupted? Yes, that means we strongly advise you to put down your phone and mute social media notifications, at the very least. Thirty minutes of not checking your phone are not that long of a time, but it’s enough to improve your productivity and keep you motivated to work

The good news? Reward yourself by doing whatever feels good during your breaks - be those short bouts of activity, watching funny Youtube videos, or getting some vitamin D from spending time outdoors.

Head over to our 2024 Complete Guide to Remote Work to discover other tips and tricks that will make work from home easier and boost your motivation levels. 

Tip #5: Practice Healthy Eating 

In addition to fighting off diseases and improving our longevity, eating well - and this means quality over quantity - can do wonders for motivation too. 

The science has spoken on that one too: healthy eating increases energy and alertness, strengthens your immune system, improves sleep and our physical and mental health. These are all essential parts of maintaining your sanity and staying motivated during the pandemic. 

So, next time that you reach for the bag of chips or think that making homemade bread is the best way to spend your time at home, think again. Not only are you not helping your body, but you’re also challenging your brain to find motivation where it’s not offered. 

Instead, try to base your meals on starchy foods, such as cereal grains and root vegetables, snack on fruits and vegetables instead of saturated fats and sugars, eat more fish and less salt, stay hydrated by drinking between 1-2 liters of water per day and eat regular meals (this can be another essential part of your schedule). 

Urban myths? Highly doubtful. Scientific literature has shown that the more fruits and vegetables people eat on a daily basis, the happier, more engaged, and productive they will be at work.  

Tip #6: Get Enough Sleep 

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s so important it just needs to be stressed. 

Sleep is to your body like the battery to your phone - mandatory. However, we have come to prioritize our phone chargers more than we do our sleeping schedule. 

Think about it - you don’t just charge your phone; you make sure it stays plugged for as long as it needs to see it reach 100% and you even try your best not to use it too much while it’s charging, not to mess up with the battery life. 

Well, it’s time you start treating your sleeping schedule with the same respect. A Hult International Business School study has highlighted just how detrimental lack of sleep can be on motivation, while more science suggests that sleep loss affects the capacity for performance and access to energetic sources. 

Don’t get it wrong - this is not us suggesting you stay in bed until noon and rest indefinitely. Instead, it means you should take the time to fix your sleeping patterns, sleep and wake up according to a schedule and make sure you don’t miss out on the hours of sleep your body needs to stay active, motivated, and productive. 

Tip #7: Be Kind to Yourself 

Look, being constructively critical to yourself and beating yourself up whenever you fail to complete a task or check your daily to-do list are two entirely different things. 

It’s important to accept that the last year has been tough on us all and that staying motivated during the pandemic is quite a difficult task. So, instead of taking up a do-all approach and feeling bad if you miss a task or spend a day without doing much, choose to forgive yourself instead of stressing out. 

Stress is the last thing that can keep you motivated during the pandemic, so try to control those feelings of criticism and self-doubt and give yourself a break. 

Think of what you’d say to a friend if they told you their motivation levels are low and that they can’t seem to find the willpower to do anything. You’d probably be much more understanding, kind, and forgiving than you are to yourself. 

Well, now, talk to yourself as you would to a friend and be just as kind and understanding. Remember, every day is a good day to start over and staying motivated during the pandemic is a process, rather than a one-time achievement. 

Key Takeaways 

Here you have it! Seven practical and easy-to-follow steps for staying motivated during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to remember: 

  • Create a schedule for your day
  • Periodically disconnect from your screen(s)
  • Find time to exercise
  • Measure your work time and reward yourself
  • Practice healthy eating
  • Get enough sleep
  • Forgive yourself