How to get unstuck while working from home

If you’re struggling to summon motivation these days, you’re not alone. Try these ideas to spark more creative energy.

How to get unstuck WFH

Many of us are in a productivity pit of despair right now.

It’s a mighty struggle as we attempt to juggle job duties with concerns about our families, finances and health.

As we strive, we’re suffering from a collective “grogginess,” says Pam Custers, a UK-based therapist. We have long since exited the early-pandemic productivity sweet spot—in which we enthusiastically baked bread, cultivated new hobbies, video-chatted with colleagues and hoped for quick global healing—and have lurched into a more deflated, even defeated, state.

Custers cites the massive uncertainty we’re all facing, coupled with the attendant anxiety that comes with not having concrete plans or events to look forward to. It all adds up to a motivation-zapping, productivity-sapping nightmare.

Of course, we WFH warriors have more obstacles to overcome. The New Yorker sees managerial deficiencies as another key source of our remote working woes. There are also tech troubles and multitudes of distractions to contend with.

This is to say nothing of our new working environs. Some—say, those quarantining with children—might say we are “laboring in confinement, under duress,” while others are toiling in isolation.

With everything going on in the world, it’s OK if you’ve lost your motivational mojo. Don’t beat yourself up about it. And don’t waste energy trying to force creative genius or energy to emerge.

Start small, and try these ideas to get back on track.

Concentrate on what you can control. And try not to fret about what you can’t. According to, there are 10 things we can all control about work:

  • What you do
  • What you say
  • What you think about and what you believe
  • How well you choose to do your job
  • Who you choose to associate with (this applies virtually, too)
  • Your attitude
  • What changes you’ll make
  • What you learn
  • What you share
  • Your legacy

Focus on these things, and don’t waste time worrying about elements beyond your control.

Prioritize exercise. You don’t have to be one of those treadmill typers or balcony marathon runners, but we could all stand to move more.

You might even try persuading the CEO to pay employees to exercise. There’s a strong case to be made that it’d be worth the investment. Exercise does wonders for mental and physical health. The more you move throughout the day, the more energetic, uplifted, hopeful and productive you’ll be. Getting more exercise will consistently boost your creativity and cognition.

Pair that exertion with a bit of meditation, and you’ll be off to the races with a healthy mindset.

Treat yourself for achievements. Science shows there is great power in celebrating small wins. If you manage people, lavish them with recognition. Consistently provide rewards, even if it’s a virtual bauble. Thank people for their work.

Celebrate your own wins, too. Treat yourself to a snack, brew up a nice coffee (or an iced coffee), or take a stroll around the block. As we wrote previously on Ragan:

You need not throw a parade every time you cross something off your list, but do relish that sweet moment of task completion (and deletion). …

Go ahead and throw yourself a little personal parade whenever you take care of business. Get that John Philip Sousa playlist pumpin’ in your headphones, shred up some paper confetti, and make it rain all over your home office. Pro tip: Cleaning your desk is another small victory to savor.

Even small treats can be a powerful motivator. So give yourself grace during the working week—and plenty of chocolate.

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