Staying motivated while working from home can be a massive challenge! It can be hard without the normal routines of office life to set the pace and pass the day. This is something that every single person who works from home has to think about and tackle. Everyone is different, but these are 7 of the top things I’ve learned about how to stay motivated when you work from home.
I’ve recently changed jobs. It was a pretty massive change- as well as a new country, I’ve gone from working in a busy office in a modern working environment to working from home. Before, I had a big team of people around me and got lots of exercise by being able to bike to and from work each day.
Now I’m working from home and it’s just me, myself, and I… and my motivation (or lack thereof!)
The Challenges in Working from Home
I very quickly discovered that it was a challenge to stay motivated- and that working at home wasn’t always working for me.
The first few weeks were eerily silent. There was no buzz of people or busy rhythm of an office day to push me through to 5pm. I was left largely to my own devices- the whole thing felt so alien. Was I really being given this level of trust right off the bat??
I was so paranoid about missing a call from my boss that in the first two weeks, I even took my mobile phone to the toilet with me.
I was terrified that a missed call would lead to the inescapable conclusion that I was abusing the system and should be immediately dismissed.
They would assume that I couldn’t answer the call because I was elbow deep in flour baking cookies, that my mobile was ringing forlornly in a locker while I powered up and down the local pool, or it was on silent so I didn’t disturb the people in the seat next to me as I settled down with my popcorn to watch the latest blockbuster in the cinema.
I thought they’d assume that I was absolutely anywhere but the place I was really meant to be- my desk.
Of course, I didn’t consider the career-ending embarrassment I would have faced if I had really answered a call from my boss with toilet noises in the background…
There were also the times when the pendulum swung the other way. Days where I dragged myself to my desk and floated on the internet, enjoying the total privacy of the computer screen that had always before been open to the passing glances of my teammates. Days where I felt unproductive and, subsequently, incredibly guilty.
MAKE A PLAN FOR HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED WHEN WORKING FROM HOME
Finally, after a month or two, I decided to become intentional about making working at home work, and to put a personal plan in place to give my motivation the very best chance of flourishing. I set goals around it that I knew I would be able to achieve.
Now I find it much easier to stay motivated and I absolutely love working from home.
I feel more productive during the day and have learnt to draw lines between work and home life- a challenge when they’re in the same environment!
I feel less stressed, and I have more time to fit in the things I want. Working from home is something I’d recommend it to anyone- it comes with amazing perks and is a great way to work flexibly to fit your lifestyle- whether you have kids or work for yourself.
It does still come with it’s own set of challenges and, like everything, is something that works best when done intentionally.
So here are my top tips to stay motivated when you work from home to make sure that is opportunity is working for you!
1. Decide how you want to start your day
It’s an absolute luxury when you work from home that you can decide exactly how your day begins. I recommend that your morning routine involves getting a good breakfast and getting dressed. For me, these two things help to mentally prepare me for work. Try it out for a few weeks and see. Do these two things help you to feel ready and prepared for work? It can kickstart your ‘work time’ mentality.
Everyone is different, but I find that my energy and focus is reduced if I don’t do these two things. I somehow don’t feel ready. Give it a shot and see if it makes a difference for you as well.
2. Use your gift of extra time
Without a doubt this is my favourite thing about working from home. I save hours every week in commute time.
Without this commute time needed to battle through rush hour traffic, you have an instant gift of extra time. It’s up to you to decide how you want to use it. Are you able to start early and finish early? Can you manage your working hours so you can drop the kids off and pick them up?
How can you use that extra time to link back to your vision for your life? How can it help you to meet your goals, whether that’s in fitness, writing, music… the list is endless. Define your vision and use this extra time- don’t waste it!
I like to get up and dressed and have my breakfast. Then I can normally fit in an hour of writing before sitting down at my desk ready for work at 9am.
Ask yourself this question. If you were suddenly gifted an extra hour of time a day, how would you use it? See working from home in this way. While the rest of the world is rushing to be somewhere on time, you have the gift of extra time.
3. Make your work station work for you
While it’s nice to occasionally sit at the kitchen table, on the sofa, or in a coffee shop, having an area that’s set up to be as tailored as possible is essential… ergonomics is more and more of a buzz word around work spaces these days.
A lot of us work on computers, even laptops, which can actually cause injury or health issues when it isn’t managed properly. It might be small things but these build up over time and can lead to some serious effects.
So what do you need to think about? Some of the main things are: posture, lighting, air, noise, work-style, and breaks.
The ultimate goal is to make sure you’re healthy at work- it applies to working from home just as much.
For example, the wrong chair or computer angle can do serious cumulative damage to your neck and spine. It’s definitely worth investing the time into getting it right!
Thankfully, there is a lot of guidance online, as well as free checklists and templates to help you out.
4. Get outside- everyday!
I’ve found this to be a surprisingly hard one but absolutely vital help me to stay motivated to work from home!
This was so difficult that I’ve made it a specific goal for myself. When I started working from home, I found it was all too easy to tap away at the computer all day, have dinner, and then stay at home for the evening, writing or watching something.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that these days are not at all healthy or good for my energy levels or mental health!
Not only are breaks from work necessary, but being outside will lift your mood and improve your mindset. If possible, see friends or family, but even smiling at a stranger on the street can lift your mood. Incorporate exercise or a hobby if you can, but make it a goal that you step out your door everyday.
5. Know the power of mini-breaks
Taking breaks at work is something that has been explored in recent times. It’s so important to take frequent breaks. It will have a positive impact on both health and productivity. But for me a break has to be well-planned. If I start watching a TV program or something like this, it will become a downwards spiral.
Check out the science of taking breaks as well as some ideas for how to manage it.
The Pomodora Technique is one suggested method. It involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break. After four of these cycles, take a longer break of 30 minutes. However, there are lots of other techniques and systems so you can find the perfect one for you.
Also, while coffee breaks are fantastic, don’t forget to stay really well hydrated. Going to re-fill your water bottle is a good way to stretch your legs get away from your desk for a few minutes.
6. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the perks
Do you ever feel a little defensive about the perks that come with working from home?
Someone said to me very early on, ‘Wow if I worked from home I’d never get out of my pyjamas!’ That doesn’t work for me at all so I get dressed everyday before work… but actually it doesn’t matter massively if I wear jeans or something very casual and comfy.
To me, coming from a hectic office, working from the silence of my home was a LOT of trust.
At the start, I was trying so hard to not abuse it that I felt awful going to make myself a coffee.
It was only when I heard a colleague talking about the joys of flexible working and how it’s helped her be there for the moments in her kids lives that she won’t get back again that it clicked- working from home is designed as a win-win situation. This helped her to stay motivated to work from home.
It’s OK for me to pop on a load of washing, turn the oven on, or shuffle work around important events. Kids sports days are a great example.
7. Know when to close the door at the end of the day!
Of course figuring out how to stay motivated to work from home is only half the battle. You also have to know when to stop.
I recommend having a finishing time and sticking to it. Turn off your laptop, turn off your phone, and physically close the door to the office. Otherwise it can be all too tempting to dip into work all evening or even all weekend. But time away from work is vitally important.
I like to keep my work and home life as separate as possible. I find that this helps my mood but also makes me more productive and focused when I do step back into my ‘work’ zone.
So try out these tips and see what works for you to help you to stay motivated to work from home.