Most of us around the country are still in some form of social distanced or quarantined lifestyle. Whether you’re at school, working from home, or lying in bed all day, I know it can be impossibly hard to stay motivated during this time. Maybe there’s a project you’re slacking off on for work or maybe your late assignments are starting to pile up. Whatever it is, here are 5 strategies to start RIGHT NOW in order to get you motivated and stay motivated for the rest of 2020.
#1 Create structure
It can be ridiculously easy to fall into a pattern of waking up at 2pm in the afternoon, eating something, and then getting back in bed to alternate between watching Youtube videos and Netflix shows. But, this behavior in the long run can lead to a downturn in motivation and a general slump in happiness.
So, I recommend first finding a calendar of any kind that suits your needs. Try out online calendars like Google Calendar or use the tried and true physical planner. Then, block out each hour of the day with a specific activity you intend to do. Obviously, put in all your meetings, classes, and mandatory events that you have to attend. But on top of that, schedule the blank space in your calendar with something so that you don’t feel like you can lie in bed and do nothing. For example, pencil in when you’re going to eat lunch, when you want to workout, and even when you’re going to watch Netflix. By structuring your days on a calendar, you can keep yourself accountable and never have a dull moment in the day.
#2 Have routines in place
Everyday you instinctively roll out of bed and brush your teeth. This is a habit that’s been ingrained in you since you were a kid, and thus, it’s what keeps your teeth clean and healthy. But even though it’s a task, it’s mindless for you because it’s a routine. The key to having a motivated quarantine is to start forming and keeping routines so that you can easily check off to-dos everyday.
For example, maybe you want to start a running routine in the mornings or a reading routine before you go to bed. Studies show that doing any activity for 14 days in a row will lead to a high chance of it becoming a formalized routine. So, set a goal of accomplishing one task for 14 days in a row, and take it from there! Once you’ve established routines, you’ll be able to feel like you checked off an important task each day without even thinking about it.
#3 Have thoughtful meals
For a lot of us, quarantine has meant heavy snacking or elaborate meals due to boredom. While it’s perfectly ok to cope with these difficult times using delicious food, it can also be better to use food as a motivating factor.
For example, instead of snacking aimlessly throughout the day, control yourself to buying 1 or 2 snacks per week. Then, tell yourself that you can only have a handful of the snack when you’ve accomplished a certain task. This way, you can look forward to food being a reward for accomplishing something good. You can expand this to meals by planning 1 or 2 elaborate meals for the end of the week. So throughout your long week, you can look forward to that nice steak dinner on Friday!
#4 Outdoors time
Especially for those who are social distancing from home, having outdoors activities are crucial. Having sunlight and the wind in your face can do wonders for our motivations. There’s a reason why many people suffer from seasonal depression in the winter when the sun is gone. Make sure you’re not creating artificial seasonal depression for yourself by staying locked up in your house.
Some examples of outdoor activities that you should try include having a picnic in the park, flying a kite on a windy day, driving to the beach to watch the waves, going to a lookout point during sunset, or even just taking a daily walk around the neighborhood. Even if you think you don’t need to go outside, trust me, you’ll feel 100 times better when you come back from it.
#5 Plan social time in advance
Lastly, quarantine can be really isolating. It can feel like the world has gotten quieter and your circle of support has gotten smaller. Or, it can feel like all you do each day is text your friends in bed and avoid doing homework. But, avoid both these feelings by scheduling social time far in advance. Similar to having intentional meals, you can use your scheduled social time as personal rewards for having met certain accomplishments.
At the beginning of each week, ask your friends to make plans at certain points throughout the week. Pick the time, location, and activity entirely. This way throughout the week, you can look forward to the hangout you have coming up next. This also eliminates the need to be texting or calling people all day long, because you know you’ll see them socially distanced soon. Not only will scheduling social time help you stay motivated through the week, it will also eliminate distractions when you’re trying to finish schoolwork or projects.
Staying motivated during these unprecedented times can be really difficult. Allow yourself grace when you inevitably mess up, because nobody is perfect during coronavirus. But hopefully using these 5 strategies, you will be able to pick yourself up and have a productive and meaningful time during quarantine.