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How to stay motivated at work if COVID-19 has crushed your vacation plans

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Yessi Bello Perez
Story by
Yessi Bello Perez

Senior Writer, Growth QuartersYessi leads the writing efforts at TNW’s Growth Quarters. Yessi leads the writing efforts at TNW’s Growth Quarters.

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It’s possible that, under normal circumstances, you would be getting ready to go on vacation right about now. August is, after all, prime vacation season — at least in Europe.

But it’s 2020 and nothing goes as planned. If your vacation plans have changed — or been canceled — as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you have my sympathy.

This time of year typically sees many of us use an upcoming vacation as the prime motivator to stay engaged at work — so, what happens when that goes out of the window?

Here’s how to stay focused and motivated at work if you’re not going anywhere this summer.

[Read: COVID-19 canceled doctors’ office visits — these startups are bringing the doctor to you]

Take time off regardless — you need a vacation

I totally appreciate that a staycation, or sitting around your living room for two weeks, is far less appealing than sunning yourself in the Mediterranean but you should still consider taking the time off, if you can. 

After all, you’ve probably endured a lot of challenges and change over the past several months and that, my friend, can take its toll — both mentally and physically.

Indeed, burnout is all too common these days and it’s important to schedule some time out, even if it’s just a few days.

If money is tight, consider cheaper alternatives such as camping, or avoid staying over-night and go on day-trips instead.

Set yourself goals and have clear objectives

You need to set goals for yourself, even if you don’t communicate these to your colleagues. 

Telling yourself that you’re doing your best is great but it’s not enough.

By sharing deadlines with your colleagues, you’re making sure someone will hold you accountable — and this may be all the motivation you need.

If you don’t adhere to clear objectives or deliverables, it can be even harder to focus or stay motivated and you’ll likely start procrastinating

Don’t take too much on

It’s so easy to get carried away and say ‘yes’ to everything but it’s important to avoid spreading yourself too thin if you want to stay focused and productive.

If you have to look after several projects at once figure out a schedule that means you can get stuff done simultaneously without getting stressed out.

Ask for help when necessary and communicate any issues in a timely manner — and if you take time off make sure this doesn’t affect any deadlines. 

Keeping busy is great as it’ll make time go by faster, but you need to get the balance right.

Pay attention to the right things

You need to work smart. So, stay focused on the projects or tasks that actually require your attention, if you do, you’ll be far more efficient.

Take this opportunity to evaluate your managerial skills — aka stop micromanaging — and avoid distractions. I mean, do you really need to be on Twitter or Slack all the time?

Prioritize your tasks and avoid setting up unnecessary meetings and distractions. 

A change of scenery

If you’re struggling to stay motivated because you’ve literally been sat at the same desk every day for the past several months, it may be time for a change. 

I took my own advice this morning and brought my iMac downstairs (from my home office) to my kitchen table and I can’t even tell you how much it’s helped me. 

Now, instead of staring out the window and people watching, I get to stare at a fully-stocked fruit bowl all day. Seriously, though, it’s a welcome change.

Reward yourself

Using a vacation as motivation is a great strategy but there are plenty of other ways you can treat yourself when you get your work done.

Structure your days and plan out your leisure time. If you get your work done in time, you may want to reward yourself with your favorite meal or by watching some Netflix.

Try and push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. Instead of having your meal at home, you could plan a picnic in your garden or a local park.

If you can’t go on your dream beach vacation, schedule several day trips to the seaside on weekends.

Don’t be ashamed if you feel down about not being able to go away but don’t let that get in the way of work — and more importantly, don’t let it ruin your summer.

So you like our media brand Growth Quarters? You should join our Growth Quarters event track at TNW2020, where you’ll hear how the most successful founders kickstarted and grew their companies.

Published August 12, 2020 — 08:51 UTC