We have all heard over the past few years that working from home, whether that is full time or part time on a flexible basis, is becoming more common. However, in early 2020 it became less of a “benefit” and transitioned into becoming a complete necessity. Thanks to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, many people who have never worked a minute from home in their lives were transitioned to working from home full time, sometimes overnight!
With this, inevitably, comes problems with motivation. I have experienced it myself with jobs I have worked in the past, and lots of people are experiencing it more and more now. But there are some fantastic ways to stay motivated to work, whether you are working from a makeshift desk made from a make-up table, your kitchen table or you are one of the lucky ones who has a full desk ready to go.
In this article, I will give you some of the best ways you can stay motivated to put in a productive day working from home, whether you are a work from home novice who is still struggling with the transition or a veteran who is struggling with motivation thanks to the issues COVID-19 has caused us all.
Wake Up Early
If you take nothing else from this article, please take this tip with you. Many people when working from home are attracted to the idea of waking up later on in the morning. This could be due to the fact that you they no longer have to commute for an hour before getting into the office, or they feel that waking up later will reduce their tiredness and allow them to get to work straight away after waking up.
That last point I just made, is really not the case. In fact, waking up later and then getting to work straight away can make people less productive because they are ignoring the time barrier between waking up and becoming energized for the day ahead.
Instead, what I have found works well for me is sticking to an early wake-up time. This allows you to take time to yourself in the morning to do what you want to do. Whether that is get a home workout in, go for a run outside and enjoy the fresh air, or even just enjoy a longer breakfast in-front of the TV. Waking up early, and then making a slow transition into work like you would do if you were working in the office can have a great boost to your productivity.
Take Time for Breaks
Believe me when I tell you, when I have worked from home in the past, I have definitely been guilty of sitting down at my desk at around 8 o’clock in the morning, and working right through until 6 o’clock at night. Now, to the onlooker, that may seem like a really productive day. It wasn’t. What no one else sees was the hour of watching YouTube because I’d burned myself out in the morning, and they didn’t see the fact that I skipped lunch completely meaning my energy started to dwindle around 2pm, and I never really recovered.
Of course, different people will work in different ways, but one of the best ways I have found to splitting up my day is taking half an hour in the morning, an hour for lunch and then an additional half an hour in the afternoon. These breaks are my time, and I can do whatever I want within that time. Whether I want to let my mind wander for a little while whilst I scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or take time to make and enjoy a healthier lunch. The point I am trying to make here is, take breaks to do what you want, which then allows your working time to be focused solely on the work you need to do.
Stick to a Schedule
When people work from an office, it is incredibly likely that they stick to a regimented schedule for each day they are at work. Of course, urgent tasks will always arise that take priority, this is the nature of everyone’s work. However, on average people will keep to a similar schedule each day. Arrive at the office somewhere between 8am and 9am, check emails and organize their to-dos for the day for the first hour, then start work on that. Lunch at a set time, work during the afternoon and then leave at a set time. Does this sound familiar?
When working from home, it is common for these schedules to start to “evolve” and when I say that word, I mean disappear entirely. People will start sitting at their desks when they want to be there, not when they need to be there, and lunch breaks start to wander to whenever someone is hungry. This can be a huge motivation sucker as there is no sense of achievement between completing tasks. Your days slowly start to merge together, giving an increasing likelihood to burnout.
The best way to fix this is by sticking to a regimented schedule, like you would do if you were working from an office environment. Wake up at the same time each morning, start your work day at the same time like you would normally do and get the hardest tasks out of the way in the morning when everything is fresh in your memory. To help with all of this, you can start using a project management app such as Evernote or Trello.
Make Time for Yourself
This is incredibly important! It is inevitable, especially if you have transitioned from office work to working from home, that you will start to be hit with the lack of social interaction when you work from home. Think about it, you wake up in the same place, work in the same place and then go to sleep in the same place as well. Making time for yourself, your mental health and your wellbeing in general is a great way to nip and saps of motivation in the bud before they can become serious issues.
There are a wide array of ways to accomplish this, and believe me I think I have tried them all at one point or another! From going for a run in the morning, making yourself a nice healthy breakfast before you start work or ensuring you finish work early enough every evening to enjoy time with yourself and your family. The point here is, you can do whatever you want with your free time, but make sure it is your free time!
Personally, my “me” time is my run every morning when I wake up. I started this in around July 2020 and, honestly, the results have been amazing! Not only am I now more productive when I work, but I am also happier and healthier! I’ve even managed to take my daily run length from 1k to 5k!
As I mentioned above, I work out every day during the week. Not just because it makes me more productive, but because it improves my physical and mental health as well! However, I’m not being an advocate for health with this post, I’m an advocate for motivation and productivity!
The sad reality is that office work is a sedentary life. This only gets worse when you start working from home. At one point, I only managed to do 342 steps in a day when I worked from home! Considering the general goal for healthy people is 10,000 steps a day, this wasn’t good! When you are not moving for long periods of time in the day, your physical health will decline, but you will start to feel less motivated as well! As you spend longer at your desk, without moving, you start to become less motivated to not only work, but do anything! A quick workout can boost your motivation by breaking up the day, and allow you to come back to your desk feeling energized and ready to take on your day!
One of the worst parts about working from home, especially for me as I am a huge extrovert, is the lack of social interaction! All of a sudden, you have lost the ability to have a quick chat to your favorite co-worker about the football (or whatever sport you are into) and you really can start to feel alone. This is taken to a whole new level thanks to the Pandemic, with bars being shut, and a lot of people only leaving their home for essential reasons such as shopping.
This can reduce your motivation dramatically! As you start to suffer more from the lack of social interaction, feelings of anxiety and depression can sneak in, making you feel a whole lot less motivated to get on with your work. During the height of the pandemic, I lived alone for 2 months, and due to my work being home based as well. I don’t think I saw another human being (apart from the guy delivering my shopping) for about a month and a half. This hit me hard.
To hit back at this, talk to someone whenever you get the chance, even if it is a 2-minute conversation with the person serving your coffee in the morning, or the checkout staff at your local shop! Not only will this help your motivation, but it will help to keep your social skills in tip top shape!
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I started working from home the first time was the struggle not to put the TV on in the background of my living room. I only knew what this would lead to, binge watching 17 episodes of my favorite show and me achieving no work for the day! Luckily, I was able to keep myself out of that cycle by rewarding myself instead.
Every time I finished a large project, or I made it through a solid 2 hours of work with no distractions, I rewarded myself by taking a quick break to watch one episode of my favorite Netflix show or I gave myself half an hour to play Xbox. This worked well in terms of my productivity because I am a very competitive person, so I often found myself competing with… Well, me. If I challenged myself to finish writing up an article within the next hour and I accomplished that, I challenged myself to finish the article a bit quicker the next time round. This was great as it meant I got through a lot of work in a short space of time, and the rewards are a great way to keep score! Trust me when I say, it is better to get 5 hours of great quality work in than 8 hours of mediocrity thanks to being distracted all day!
Dress for Work
My final tip to help you stay motivated when working from home rather than an office is to dress for the day ahead! I know, there is no point in you getting out your best suit when you are going to be sat on that awful desk chair, speaking to no one, all day. But getting out of your bedwear and into more professional clothes helps keep you motivated and productive!
Fashion psychologists have long said that when you put on an outfit, you start to replicate the personality that outfit gives off. So, for example, if you put on pajamas and a dressing gown, you are more likely to be lazy that day. If you put on a suit, you are more likely going to have a successful day!
The key here is to find a balance. Of course, there is no use in putting on a full suit and tie unless you have a video meeting scheduled, but you don’t want to be in loungewear all day either. I have found what works best for me is a nice shirt, tucked into a nice pair of jeans or chinos. In other words, the classic ‘business casual’ look! It makes me feel professional and productive without being overpowering.
Well, there you have it, 8 tips for making your days working from home more motivated than you’ve ever had before! We know this Pandemic won’t go on forever, especially now vaccines are starting to be rolled out across the world. However, it is here to stay for a little while, which means so is working from home! So please take some of these tips and try and implement into your work from home life. You will see changes in your motivation levels almost immediately!