Photo: Instead of sleeping in or taking a more extended period to get ready in the morning, work during commute time. Shutterstock.
By now, you’ve been working from home for a few months, at least. Maybe your employer decided that you’ll be working remotely for a while. You might even have a job where you’ll never go back to an office, whether it’s your choice. While working at home seems like a dream job because you can work in your pajamas or Yoga pants, you don’t need to commute, and you don’t have to deal with certain coworkers you never cared for anyway. You might even find yourself sleeping in and working different hours, providing the job lets you do this.
No matter what benefits working remotely has for you, it can’t keep you from realizing there are more distractions, and it’s harder to stay motivated. You find yourself walking around the home, thinking about what meal you’ll make or cleaning instead of completing your paperwork. You find yourself checking your phone more, going on social media often, turning on the television, taking more breaks than usual, going for a walk, and so much more. You then see the worst struggle of all – making sure you get all of your work done on time. What can you do to help your motivation? Continue reading to find out!
Act Like You’re Going To Your Job Every Morning
It’s easy to fall into the trap where you don’t want to get in your work attire. You want to hang up your dress pants or even your jeans and wear pajama bottoms and Yoga pants. You don’t put much effort into the shirts you wear, brushing your hair, putting on makeup, or anything else you regularly did before going to work (except for brushing your teeth).
Even though you can change from dress pants into jeans, for your motivation, it’s best to get ready in the morning like you did, leaving your home to go to the office. You can also get ready, so you’re comfortable going outside and meeting people at a moment’s notice.
You want to create a workspace because it will put you into the mindset that you’re working and not at home to lounge around. When you establish your space, you want an area away from as many distractions as possible. You also want to have space with items that you’d bring into your office, such as photos of your family, paper, and other office supplies.
The key is not to make your space too cluttered. Even though this can happen in the office, it’s more likely to occur at home because it’s easier to bring knick-knacks or other objects from one room into the next. You can also create a space outside where you can spend time during the day working.
You want to work certain hours to help give you a sense of when you’re working and when you’re spending a typical day at home, but you shouldn’t force yourself to work when it’s not in you. Just like there are days you’d take off from the office, you want to do this at home too.
Take the weekends and evenings off or set up vacation time, and don’t worry about the work you need to do. If you need a break from your job, take a break and then try to get back into your groove.
Did you have to wake up at 5:30 AM to get to work on time? Maybe it was more of 6:30 because you’d hit the “snooze” until the last minute. It’s easier to find yourself thinking that now you work from home and can sleep as late as you want to or as late as your children will let you, but this isn’t so.
You still want to set the alarm for a decent time to get up and get ready for your workday. While this doesn’t need to be as early as before, starting work at 8:00 AM over 10:00 AM can make you believe you’re more motivated because you have more done by lunch than you do at a later time. This action also allows you to finish your workday earlier.
Set a schedule, so you’re working in blocks of time with consistent breaks. For instance, if you start at 9:00 in the morning, work until 11 and then take a break. You might even take lunch during this time and get back to work by noon.
You then work another two hours before you take a second break. Then, continue with your workday until the end, which can be about 5:00. This idea helps keep you motivated because you’re focusing on work but not for too long without a break.
It happens to many people. You were not prepared to work from home and don’t have space. You don’t want to take up much space in your living room, bedroom, or another area in your home, so you sit down with your computer and don’t budget too much.
But, a small space can feel uncomfortable after a while and lead to the need to move around or become distracted. To stay motivated, you want to have a workspace that you’re proud of and want to spend time in working.
If You Really Need to, Move to a Different Location
Don’t feel like you can’t move around if you need to. Sometimes you have the urge to leave your office and work outside or at the kitchen table by the big window. You might also feel more motivated when you sit down on the floor or couch because it offers different scenery.
If you keep thinking about moving to a new area to work, go there with your laptop and start working. If you find that you are motivated in that area, work until you start to become distracted. If you realize that it’s not helping, move back to your desk or a different space.
You have a schedule when you work outside of the home, and you want to keep a schedule when you work at home. This concept doesn’t mean that you need to stick precisely to the one you had before unless your supervisor requests it. If possible, create a schedule that works for you. For instance, you might start a bit later to get your children ready for the day and situation with games, toys, or with someone else.
Once your time frame works, stick with it. If you start at 8 AM, keep this time. End at the same time every day. You also want to take breaks at the same time.
You wake up in the morning and don’t feel like getting out of bed. You keep hitting snooze, but know that you need to start work. You see your laptop close to your bed, grab it and start working without bothering to get out of bed.
While this seems like a great idea, the trouble is you won’t keep up your motivation. You’ll find yourself lying back down or falling asleep as you’re trying to work. You could also become too comfortable and lose motivation to work for the rest of the day.
You’re at home where there are more distractions than at work. For instance, you might have televisions in every room of your home, there’s your bed, a couch, housework, baking, cooking, and so much more. While some of these might not be distractions, it’s easy to find yourself thinking that you need to clean up the kitchen before you finish your current project.
But, if it’s during your workday, you’re more likely trying to find a way to get away from your work. Find a location in your home that doesn’t have distractions or build your self-discipline, so you don’t give in.
The Pomodoro technique is when you work for 25 minutes, and then you take a short break. Once the timer goes off, you work for another 25 minutes. You repeat this process four times before you take a more extended break. When your long break is over, you will work and then go back to your shorter breaks.
You use a tomato timer to follow the process. You can buy one and set it on your desk, or you can go online and find the website that will help keep your time, including letting you set your time frame for your breaks.
One of the steps you can take to improve your motivation is to focus on you. Look at your process and note where your weaknesses are, such as in time management. What do you struggle with during your workday? What should you start and end with for projects? You can ask yourself questions to help gauge how you work and where your struggles are.
You can improve your time management by starting with emails, find your area where you’re most productive, learn how to delegate, and plan your day at the beginning of your day.
If you no longer need to travel, you probably added a few minutes, if not close to an hour or so, to your day. This idea is a great way to get a head start on your workday because of the time you spent commuting you can spend working.
It can help you end your day sooner, become more motivated because you’re starting and finishing work earlier, or even take a longer break in the middle of the day, such as an hour for lunch instead of a half-hour.
One of the best ways to help you stay motivated is to take care of yourself, which includes working out. You can do this by walking around your block, going up and down your stairs, running in place, or finding YouTube videos to help you get your workout party started.
You can even include your kids in your workout routine by mimicking dance videos or playing music and having them come up with their routines. You can also purchase home equipment or get into Yoga, which is also known to improve motivation.
Do you struggle to start a project, especially one you don’t care to work on very long? You might push it to the side or look for a different project to keep busy with for a while. The problem with facing tasks that you’re not excited to work on means that you drag your feet. You come up with reasons why you can’t start, or you lose motivation.
To keep your motivation up, you can try the 10-minute rule. This tip is when you tell yourself that you will work on the project for 10 minutes before starting something else. You can go back to it for 10 minutes every hour, or you might find yourself continuing with the plans because now you started, so you need to finish it.
If you feel like your head is in a cloud or you can’t form thoughts. You’re having trouble staying motivated, no matter what you try, get out for some fresh air. Going outside can naturally make you feel better because you’re getting Vitamin D, and nature just helps clear your mind.
Go for a short walk during one of your breaks, or just take a longer break to focus on your mental health. Even though you should stick to your schedule, mental health is more important. When you need a break, take a break.
You can find an accountability partner to help conquer your goals. It’s a person you know that you discuss your goals with safely. They agree to provide you feedback and keep you on track as long as you do the same for them. They might be in the same career, or you might find one online. You can even ask a family member or friend to help you.
They can also help you learn to be accountable to yourself, helping you make deadlines at your job. Another benefit is that you usually don’t have to pay for this service unless you both decide to meet for lunch and talk about your progress.
Just like you set a time to start your workday, you also want to set a time to end – even if you’re not completely done with your tasks. Ask yourself, “If I was working in the office, would I leave now, or would I continue working?” If you would stay, then go ahead and work, but if you would leave, end your workday.
It’s also important not to go back to work after your evening meal or when people go back to bed. Unless you usually work during this time, do something else, and don’t worry about your job.
You might have created a reward system for your children when you taught them how to follow through on their chores. It doesn’t seem like something that works for adults, but it’s a great motivator.
You don’t need to create a sticker chart (unless you want to). Instead, you can do something like every 2 hours you work, take a 15 minutes break, and relax. You can also watch a movie after your workday. You want to pick rewards that will help keep your mind to your work and not drifting off into space.
You need to set challenges for yourself to keep motivated. For example, if you need to finish a project by the end of the day, try to finish it in the morning. You can also have a competition between coworkers or different tasks.
You can also challenge yourself to keep to your schedule, follow the Pomodoro technique, stick to a work schedule, and not touch your phone for a whole hour. There are several challenges that you can set to yourself, so get creative.
There are many forms of self-care that you can incorporate into your day, whether you’re working. The key to self-care is that you want to do what makes you feel good. When you start to mentally and emotionally feel better, you’ll physically feel the same way, and this will give you a boost in motivation.
You might decide to shower in the morning or a nice bubble bath with candles after work. It’s also essential to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night and eat right.
You can’t deny that you’re probably struggling mentally and emotionally a bit more than you usually are, especially if you suddenly start working from home because of the current crisis. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t talk to other people.
Email or call your coworkers and talk to them like you usually ask them questions when you have them. Call your friends and family or have everyone meet on a video platform so you can see faces!
Many strategies can help you improve your motivation. The key is to understand what makes you struggle, whether it is distractions, mental health, or something else. For instance, if you miss your coworkers and the office scene, you need to find a way to communicate with them throughout your workday. You also want to look at what you can do to create a more office-type environment.
Other strategies to look at are following your workflow. For example, if you’re a night owl, you might be more productive in the evening or after people have gone to bed. You might notice that you get four hours of work done in two. If this sounds like you and you’re able to change your schedule when working from home, work later.
Sometimes you need to look at how you can change when it comes to your motivation. Do you feel like you want to work, but you just can’t follow through because you let distractions get to you? Do you struggle to put down your phone or find you check your social media sites too often?
By improving your self-discipline when it comes to maintaining your work mindset, you can improve your motivation. You can find techniques to help you, such as delayed gratification or putting your phone on silent and setting it in another room.
It’s going to happen from time to time. You schedule your workday, you have your timer set, you got ready like any other day, and then you’re taken off course right away. Your child might wake up sick or just not want you to work today. You might have a bad conference call with a coworker and only find yourself in a negative mood.
Be kind to yourself when these situations happen. Everyone is trying to get used to the new normal that is building, including you. Learn to go with the flow.
“10 Tips to help boost your motivation when working from home.” Smash Your to-do List.
“6 Ways to Stay Motivated When You Work from Home.” Alex Haslam, Rewire. October 2018.
“11 Ways To Stay Motivated While Working From Home.” Paul Tassi, Forbes. January 2014.
“How to Stay Motivated When You Are Working From Home.” Amy Morin, Very Well Mind. April 2020.
“Tips on working from home: how to stay motivated and sane.” Katy Cowan, Creative Boom. March 2020.