Working from home is going to become a new reality for many people in 2020. It may even be a permanent change, since some companies are shifting to keeping their workforce at home whenever feasible. Whereas there are definitely some positives to this arrangement, some people do struggle to stay motivated when working from home. Why is this and what can you do about it?
The Problem with Working from Home
It is common for working from home to lead to isolation, which can cause demotivation and even depression. Messaging your coworkers is quite different from seeing them in person. In fact, a survey of remote workers found that 21 percent suffered from loneliness.
If working from home is your only option (i.e., you can’t go into the office or even work from a coffee shop), you need to take steps to prevent demotivation. There’s no need for working from home to mean you become less productive. In fact, with the right strategy, you may even be able to become more motivated.
Tips on How to Stay Motivated Working from Home
We may all have different jobs and be feeling different emotions, but the solutions for how to stay focused when working from home are the same for everyone. If ever you find you’re unable to focus, try these tips for working from home effectively.
1. Create a Workspace
If you use nothing more than a laptop for work, there’s little stopping you from picking up your computer and taking it to another place in your home. You can pretty much work from anywhere in any room. It may seem like a good idea to keep an eye on your cooking or to monitor your kids at the same time as working, but this will mean it’s impossible to concentrate and avoid distractions.
Whenever it’s time to settle down to work, you need a specific place to go to. Ideally, your home office should be a separate room in your house, but if your spouse or roommates are also working from home, this will likely be unfeasible. At the very least, though, you should have your own desk that you only use for work tasks.
Organize your desk in a way that puts you in the right frame of mind for work. This means removing personal items that you would never see on a desk at the office. A plant and a framed photo are fine, but cosmetics and books that you’re reading for pleasure need to find another home. Also consider decorating your desk or the surrounding space with certificates, achievements, or something branded to remind you of your company.
2. Keep to a Schedule
Common advice is to start work early: to wake up as if you were going to the office and sit down at your desk around 9 a.m. Whereas this may work for some, not all of us are morning people. If you know that you’re more productive in the afternoon or evening, feel free to set a later schedule. Just make sure that you do have a schedule and that you stick to it. That means designating certain hours for work, both starting and (equally important) ending at your set time.
3. Practice Personal Care
There’s a debate about whether getting dressed in proper work attire will help when you’re feeling unmotivated working from home. For some people, wearing proper pants (rather than sweatpants) is essential to stop feeling lazy. For others, however, staying comfortable is more helpful. Figure out what works for you.
Whatever you decide, it’s still essential to practice good personal care. Shower regularly, brush your hair, shave — all this will make you feel prepared for work and, therefore, more motivated.
4. Write To-Do Lists
Be clear what tasks you have for the week, goals for the month, and targets for the long term. Use these to create a to-do list for each day. It’s much easier to stay motivated when you know what you need to achieve on any given day than if you decide to see how much you can get done. Be sure to keep track of how much you’ve accomplished, too — this is a great motivator.
If your mind starts feeling foggy, a workout could be a better solution than another cup of coffee. Caffeine may stimulate you for a short time, but exercise will wake you up.
In fact, you should consider exercising during the workday as essential. When you work from home, you’re at risk of living a more sedentary lifestyle. Take advantage of the fact that you can easily take a break to workout — this is something that is far more difficult when you’re at the office.
There are home training videos online for people at all levels of fitness — you can definitely find something that suits you. Plus, you’ll find your fitness level increases tremendously if you keep it up every day, meaning you’ll soon be able to move up to something more challenging.
6. Stop Using Social Media
Although you may tell yourself you’re only going to browse for a few minutes, you’ll be mindlessly scrolling before you know it. If just promising yourself that you won’t use social media during your workday proves ineffective, there are some other measures you can take. For instance, you could remove shortcuts from your browser or work from a private window where you’ll be signed out from all your accounts.
7. Take Regular Breaks
Just because you’ve banished social media from your workday doesn’t mean you can’t take any breaks. If ever you feel stuck or burned out, a short break may be just what you need. Then, you can return to your work refreshed.
It’s best to use your breaks for something that will lead to personal or professional growth but is not directly linked to work. Reading a helpful article, watching an informative video, or spending a few minutes on a personal project are all great uses of your time.
8. Reward Yourself
At the end of a big project (or even after a challenging task that you wanted to procrastinate), give yourself a reward. Better yet, create a reward system to give yourself a treat that’s proportional to the achievement.
9. Let Others Know Your Work Schedule
Even if all the other members of your household are working or studying from home, they’ll have a slightly different schedule to you. It’s important to avoid disturbing each other. The best thing you can do is communicate your working hours to help everyone know when you’ll be unavailable.
10. Prepare Meals in Advance
Eating healthy meals will do wonders for your concentration, but preparing those meals can take a big chunk of time out of your workday. To avoid downtime, prepare as much as you can the night before or during the weekends.
11. Communicate with Coworkers
Schedule time every day to check in with coworkers. Video or audio chat is ideal, as these allow you to have a proper conversation. Arrange calls ahead of time to ensure chats are welcome breaks not inconvenient interruptions.
Affordable Essentials That Can Help You Stay on Track
Never underestimate how much of a difference some basic work-from-home products can make. All the following are essential for anyone who works from home.
1. A Laptop Stand
Hunching over a laptop all day can lead to some serious back pain, eye strain, and other ailments. With a laptop stand, you can adjust your screen to an angle that is most comfortable for whatever you are doing. Plus, keeping your laptop off your desk helps it stay cool.
2. Pomodoro Tracker
Instead of manually writing a to-do list and checking off items as you go, use a tool like Pomodoro Tracker. This tracks items according to category and helps you use time to your favor by telling you when to take breaks.
3. A Great Office Chair
A high-quality office chair can have a huge impact on your productivity. When you’re comfortable, you won’t be tempted to sit somewhere else and you’ll end the day free from aches and pains.
4. Noise-Canceling Headphones
If other people in your house are working from home, noise-canceling headphones could be a lifesaver. Any time you’re struggling to focus, play music to get your mind back on track. You’ll also find that noise-canceling headphones are excellent for making calls — which could encourage you to talk to your coworkers more often.
Adjusting to work from home will have its challenges, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome. All you need to do is take steps to create a comfortable, productive workspace, act as if you were in the office, and strive to combat any sense of loneliness. You’ll then be able to enjoy all the benefits of working from home — like the lack of commute, the chance to see your family more, and the capability to have a healthier lifestyle.