Due to the Coronavirus pandemic that struck the world in 2020 and continues to have a big impact in 2021 and beyond, working from home has become something of the new norm for many people over the past year.
One of the biggest issues many people encounter is that their home environment is set up for relaxation, entertainment, and doing anything but work! Right? Same here! This, however, can leave us asking ourselves just how to stay motivated when working at home.
As someone who has been working from home, both self-employed and as an employee, for about 10 years now, I would like to share with you what works for me and what does not! So in this article, I have some strategies that might help you to stay focused and motivated when working from home.
Strategy #1: Get Used To A Daily Routine
Distractions are everywhere, from the pile of dirty laundry to those addictive daytime TV shows. It can be tough to just get into a working mood.
First things first, try making your day feel more like a workday – don’t stay dressed in your PJs. OK, sure, your boss isn’t going to know you’re not dressed in workwear, but the thing is, you do. Try to stick with a routine just as you did when you were going out to work each day.
To do this means sticking to a timetable, set the alarm to get up, and get yourself ready for work. Have breakfast, take a shower, walk the dog, etc. But then at your specified time go to work. This should be the same time each day, so you get into a routine. You may not have to start at 9 am; maybe you have the flexibility to choose your work hours, but be consistent.
Time can be a slippery thing if you allow distractions to get in your way. Before you know it, it’ll be noon, and your 8-hour workday will start eating into the evening, you’ll be staying up later, and resentment will start to set in. This can be a huge motivation killer.
Strategy #2: Create A Dedicated Workspace
It may seem like a fun idea to sit in bed all day and work on your laptop. The truth is this environment isn’t conducive to productive work. Your bed is a place for rest, sleep, or sexual activity. It’s somewhere you go to relax and be comfortable. Also, sitting in bed won’t help your back any.
Sleep experts have also found that when your bed is also a place associated with work, it can actually interfere with your sleep and regular sleep patterns. It may also be damaging to your:
- Sleep quality
Try to avoid the temptation and find a dedicated workspace instead.
To help you keep your motivation, your workspace should be somewhere quiet. A place where you won’t get distracted by other family members, the TV, the dog, the neighbors, or whatever else is likely to take your attention.
Good places to set up a desk might be in a spare bedroom or dining room. If you have limited space, choose a quiet corner of your largest room to create your home office.
Strategy #3: Be Properly Equipped
Another way to get distracted and lose your motivation is not having everything you need to hand when you begin work. Being correctly equipped prevents you from having to go in search of things you might need, such as paper for the printer, a pen, a notepad, headphones, and so on.
The problem is, as soon as you break your working concentration, get up and go to get something, other temptations are hard to avoid. Before you know it, you’ll be fixing a snack or doing the dishes.
Don’t forget to take other supplies with you to your work area, to avoid unscheduled breaks. Using a flask to hold hot or cold drinks is a good idea, for example.
Strategy #4: Take Breaks
Stopping work to get things that are unplanned, isn’t the same as stopping for scheduled breaks.
Taking breaks is important. It helps you clear your head, get the blood circulating if you’ve been sitting still for a long time, and gives you time goals.
The frequency of breaks is specific to you as an individual, some people need more than others. The type of work you do can also dictate this to some extent. For example, if you’re inputting data, the work can be quite monotonous, and it’s easy to lose concentration. For this reason, you may need to take breaks every half hour.
If the work you’re doing is more creative, it could be damaging to take breaks too often as it can break your flow. At a minimum, you should stop working and leave your desk about once every hour. This is because we can’t maintain concentration for much longer than 50 minutes at a time.
The reason for leaving your desk is to rest your eyes and get the blood flowing in your legs again. Staying at your desk is also more likely to entice you into doing other things on your computer, such as playing games, searching the web, looking at social media, and so on. The problem with this is that your break is likely to last hours rather than minutes.
The best way to ensure you’re getting enough breaks of the right length is to program them into your phone. Set alarms to remind you when it’s time to start AND finish each break.
A short break should last between 5 and 10 minutes, lunch breaks 30 minutes to an hour. You can also give yourself two longer breaks of 20 minutes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Just as an example, your day could look like this:
- 9 am – Start Work
- 10 am – Break (10 mins) to 10.10 am
- 11.10 am – Break (20 mins) to 11.30 am
- 12.30 pm – Lunch (45 mins) to 1.15 pm
- 2.15 pm – Break (10 mins) to 2.25 pm
- 3.25 pm – Break (20 mins) to 3.45 pm
- 4.45 pm – Break (10 mins) to 4.55 pm
- 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm – Finish work
It isn’t just about working out when you’re going to pause, but also what you’re going to do during each work block, too.
Strategy #5: Scheduling
Planning what you’ll do between each set break can help maintain motivation, keep you on task, and more productive. It allows each job to seem more manageable and stops you from feeling overwhelmed.
A lot is to do with psychology – after all, it’s far more motivational to give yourself small manageable tasks. For example, saying you’ll complete 10 invoices between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm is far better than setting yourself 50 invoices to create for the day.
Scheduling time like this also makes you more productive because the clock is ticking and you know you’ve only a short time in which to complete each task, this can be really motivational.
Strategy #6: Avoid Distractions
You’re doing great, you’ve got your workspace, organized everything you need, scheduled your work for the day, including regular breaks – now, if only you could get rid of those pesky distractions!
Things that distract us come in a wide variety of guises: Your kids, pets, daily chores, friends, neighbors, TV, phone, social media – the list goes on…
If you’re frequently being distracted, a simple task that should only take 15 minutes could end up taking several hours, so the distractions really need to go.
I know with my own two young boys, just how easy it is to lose motivation for work when they’re around. Like everything else, it’s a matter of planning. It’s pointless scheduling work time if you have to take care of the kids, so plan around them. You work when your partner can take care of them or while they’re asleep.
If your children are older, you can tell them that you have to work and that they’ll need to leave you alone. Give them things to do to keep them occupied and reasons they can disturb you if it is absolutely necessary.
Ensure that during your breaks, you check in with them and show interest in what they’re doing, that way they are less likely to disturb you.
As for other motivation suckers, be strong, eliminate them. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, put the TV remote in a drawer, set up an automatic email responder, putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.
Strategy #7: Challenge Yourself
Set yourself small challenges, they can help to keep you focused on a task. Also, trying to better your previous results and making it into a game, especially when doing monotonous tasks, can help.
For example, if you needed to input a list of figures, see how many you can achieve in 10 minutes (remember to check your accuracy.) Then, next time, see if you can better the result.
Sometimes it can actually be easier to work from home. In an office, there are regular distractions with other people talking and moving around. When you’re at home, especially alone, you may be surprised just how much work you can achieve in a short time.
Strategy #8: Reward Yourself
Promising yourself a reward when you finish a job is a good way to maintain incentive. For example, you could decide to reward yourself for a hard day’s work by having your favorite meal, or watching a movie you’ve been meaning to see, and so on. You can also give yourself little treats during each break, a cup of tea, a healthy snack, etc.
Be careful that you don’t make all your rewards food-based, having a chocolate bar each time you have a break, isn’t the best thing to do. Try to mix things up a little.
Strategy #9: Take Good Care of Yourself
If you start work feeling tired or stressed, then it’s pretty likely that you’ll immediately lack motivation and find it really difficult to get going.
Look after yourself and ensure you’re eating healthily, getting plenty of sleep, exercise and generally taking good care of yourself.
Physical health is one thing, but mental health is just as important. If anything is getting on top of you, don’t ignore it. Face problems head-on and get them fixed right away. Allowing pressures to build up will wear you down until you become overwhelmed and feel you can’t cope.
Try practicing mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to help clear and focus your thoughts and help you deal with all the minor stresses life likes to give us.
Social contact is also crucial for our mental health. Even if you can’t physically be with people, make sure you give yourself time to talk on the phone or, better still, video chat.
Give yourself some you-time too, a relaxing bath, a walk, time to read a book, whatever you enjoy doing. It will all help you feel fulfilled and, therefore, better equipped to stay focused and motivated when working.
Strategy #10: Experimentation
Despite your best efforts, you may find some of the techniques here simply don’t work for you. We’re all different, and we all have our own personalities. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another.
With this in mind, it may mean you have to do some experimentation before you find the best solutions to keeping yourself motivated towards work. Just keep trying out different strategies until you find what fits.
Conclusion: How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home
There’s no denying that working from home is easier for some than others. It simply doesn’t suit everyone. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it difficult, particularly at the start. With some experimentation, you will find a way through. Just work the best way you can.
Remember, how to stay motivated when working from home differs from person to person. There is no magic solution, other than just finding out what works best for you. If things do become too overwhelming, talk to your employer, or reduce the number of clients you have. Quality is always better than quantity.
To find out more strategies for working from home, you can get additional tips here. Also, if you liked this article, please think about sharing it with your friends or if you know anyone who struggles with working from home. Sharing is caring! In case you have any questions or anything to add, please make sure to leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you 🙂
Stay strong, be positive, you’ve got this.
All the best,
P.S.: What’s Next?
If you’ve ever thought about leaving your average 9-to-5-job and become your own boss by building a simple blog like this one you are reading right now, consider yourself invited to read my guide on how to get started with blogging and my review of Wealthy Affiliate!