Manage Stress and Motivate Self in WFH

Seema Chowdhry

A newly minted remote worker? Deal with accompanying anxiety by becoming aware of your needs and practicing time management techniques.

Managing work from home can be stressful, specially if you are new to it and have teams to manage and motivate. In the three week lockdown period, we all scrambled and learned that certain rituals – dressing up for work, finding a specific spot in the house, doing virtual meetings can help. But with two more weeks likely to add to the lockdown, productivity and time management are causing stress and anxiety, more so as uncertainty about jobs is shooting up. Here are some frameworks that can help motivate yourself through this phase. Believe us, these will help manage some part of your stress too.

Pay attention to the self: To manage your stress and that of your colleagues, the first thing you need is self-awareness. Uncover what matters to you, and why. Spend some time on it. Eventually, this knowledge will help you enhance your self belief and your capacity to deliver on commitments.

Do the math on your schedule inside out: Work from home lulls most of us to believe we have more time on our hands. This is ‘magical thinking’. It takes time to do our regular tasks such as cooking, bathing, cleaning. So, for the next three days, jot down how long you take for these tasks. These entries will give you a sense of time you need to keep aside for personal tasks and plan your work commitments accordingly.

Re-align your team: Use the GRIN (Goals, Roles, Interdependence and Norms) framework to motivate your team and yourself. This may seem basic. After all, members know about the goals, right? You will be surprised to find in times like these, people often lose sight. To alleviate stress, create a set of shared goals and then clarify roles and expectations. Emphasize on interdependence because it helps teams know they can depend on you and other members for support and guidance. Finally, reset norms or rules to guide how a team should work in this period. This restructuring will comfort you.

Prioritize tasks: Doing too many things at once hampers your concentration and leaves you distracted. Identify and prioritize tasks by their urgency and importance. A handy tool for this is the Eisenhower Matrix which divides tassks into must-do now; need to be done but can be rescheduled; delegate, and leave for the time being. Do use this lens with your to-do list daily and you will feel less anxious.

Fight procrastination: Do you feel anxious or guilty for not getting the job done on time? In a changed work setup, most people find themselves needlessly delaying tasks. One way to deal with this is to follow the Pomodoro Technique. For every project you need to do, split it up into many tasks and decide which ones do you have to do right away. Divide your time into short intervals called Pomodoros, in which each of these tasks can be done. Complete each task and take a break after it without fail. By limiting the length of time for each task and taking restorative breaks every now and then, you will find it easier and less stressful to focus.

Seema Chowdhry is Vice President, Curriculum, Harappa Education and a former journalist.

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