How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home
Working from home can be a refreshing change of pace after years of working from an office. However, it can be easy to lose motivation while sitting around the house, especially if you have a family to attend to. Still, there are several ways to keep your focus while at home.
Staying motivated when working from home requires consistent effort and patience. Sticking to a schedule, limiting distractions, waking-up early, and incorporating exercise into your day can help. Therapy and emotional support from family and friends can also help keep remote workers motivated.
This article will explore the various ways you can stay focused and determined after weeks or months of working from home. Feel free to experiment with these suggestions, as some are bound to be more useful for you and your lifestyle than others.
Create a Workspace
If you’re unaccustomed to working from home, you may find it challenging to get back into the groove. You may have your laptop up and running and your favorite coffee cup at your side but struggle to start working. Take a moment to consider your environment.
Chances are, you’re simply not setting up your workspace in a quiet, distraction-free, dedicated space. While our homes can be exceptionally comfortable and full of entertaining devices and items, those qualities don’t always contribute to a product workday. Staying focused and motivated often requires a change of setting.
If you live in a home with a spare room, now is the time to transform that room into your home office. Adding a desk is a great place to start, but you can also fill the space with items that remind you of your in-office workspace. However, when creating your own home office, be sure to avoid adding televisions, stereos, and other things that could prove distracting.
If you don’t have a spare room to work with, you can still create a dedicated workspace to facilitate increased productivity and focus. Choosing a quiet space with plenty of natural and artificial light is an excellent idea, though bedrooms should be off-limits for work. You should never work from your bedroom, as it inhibits your productivity and can reduce your sleep quality.
Dining room tables, breakfast buffets, and even a comfy couch could be the ideal work area. The key is ensuring you have a stable surface to set your belongings on and a comfortable seat that supports your lower back. Once you have a clean, organized workspace, you may feel more motivated to tackle some work.
Stick to a Schedule
Part of the bliss of working from home is having an open schedule that works around your needs and wants. However, this blessing can also be a curse. If you’re struggling to stay motivated throughout your at-home workday, you may want to pause and take a moment to consider how your current schedule is different from your in-office one.
More than likely, your morning rituals and habits have changed. After all, when we’re expected to show up to our office at a specific time every day, we tend to adopt certain practices to prepare us for each day. In the past, you may have started your day with a morning jog, a shower, and a quick stop at your favorite breakfast restaurant.
If you’re not following a schedule (and its related daily rituals), you’re probably suffering from a lack of direction and regularity. While routines can be tedious, they can also be exceptionally comforting and help set the pace for the day or the week. Deciding to attend to tasks freely can be frustrating for employers, coworkers, and your own sense of self.
Creating a work-at-home schedule typically only takes a few minutes and can help give your life some much-needed structure. Once you’ve crafted the ideal work-from-home daily routine, the most significant challenge you’ll face is adhering to that schedule. The only person you’ll have to report to is yourself, so it’s essential to keep yourself honest.
However, if you make a mistake and oversleep through your alarm, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, recognize why you overslept and decide on a solution that works for you. Lingering on feelings of guilt or anger can lessen your productivity and hinder any feelings of motivation. Stick to your schedule, and be patient with yourself.
Regular exercise can help you feel and look better, and it can also provide you with a consistent dose of motivation. After all, it’s easy to feel unmotivated, bored, or uninspired when you feel tired or unwell. Besides, poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to several life-threatening health problems, including obesity and heart disease.
Taking time to go for a thirty-minute walk or perform at least thirty minutes of exercise each day can combat these health issues and help prevent them. You’ll also get to enjoy the other benefits of regular exercise, including:
- More energy
- Improved mood
- Higher-quality sleep
- Weight loss
You can start exercising without investing in any special equipment. While it’s common for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to frequent gyms, you don’t have to join a gym to enjoy regular exercise. Taking daily walks, performing relaxing yoga routines, or performing a series of bodyweight exercises is just as valid and valuable.
Click this link for some wonderful ideas for your in-home gym, many of which are extremely space-efficient and will get you experiencing that euphoric rush of exercise-induced endorphins in no time!
It’s wise to get up from your workspace at least once every twenty minutes to walk around, stretch your body, and enjoy a quick snack or beverage. Doing so can help prevent many of the significant dangers posed by sitting for several hours. However, it’s essential to listen to your body when working out.
While it’s a great idea to get fit and eat nutritious meals, it’s not good to overwhelm yourself with complicated diets or exercise plans. Be patient and take each day as it comes, making sure to increase your challenges over time.
Overdoing it can result in injury or illness, both of which are sure to drain you and leave you feeling unmotivated.
Allow Time for Breaks
While it’s easy to overwork yourself while attempting to navigate upcoming deadlines and multiple projects, it’s important to remember that you’re only human. As such, you’ll likely require a few breaks throughout the day to let your mind and body rest. Deciding to go without these moments of inactivity can prove disastrous in more ways than one.
Work burnout is a phrase used to describe a feeling of absolute mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by too much work. This condition can lead to several health issues, including insomnia, poor mood, and heart disease. Taking small breaks throughout the day can help reduce your risk of burnout.
If you decide to work from a desk, you’ll want to stand up and move around at least once every twenty minutes. Spending too much time in a seated position can be just as dangerous as overworking yourself, so it’s crucial to incorporate a little activity throughout your workday. This can be as extreme as performing an hour of intense exercise each day, or as simple as taking a brief two-minute walk around the house between tasks.
As long as you remember to switch your physical position every half hour or so, you should be able to avoid the dangers of prolonged sitting. Taking tiny breaks throughout your day can also help you to regulate your mood and reduce stress. You can choose to work in twenty-minute chunks and spend ten minutes walking, meditating, or enjoying a healthy snack.
Getting your mind and body off work for several minutes every hour is crucial to maintaining focus, energy, and motivation while working from home. Though it might seem counterintuitive, breaks are fantastically essential to keeping your spirits up and your body healthy.
Because you likely don’t have your boss or supervisor keeping you company at home, there’s no longer such an immediate threat of punishment looming over you. Your employer may be keen to keep track of your work via plug-in apps or specialized software. But that doesn’t mean there’s anyone directly stopping you from playing a fourth round of virtual solitaire.
Equally, any motivational rewards once offered by your company may currently be on hold. Office-wide pizza parties, tickets to upcoming events, and other common forms of workplace inspiration may be absent while you’re working from home. The result is an environment that provides fewer punishments for distractions and fewer rewards for diligence.
To remedy this, you may have to begin adopting self-made accountability-protocols and “job well done” rewards. It’s a good idea to focus on rewards instead of penalties, as negative thinking can often be cyclical, repetitive, and unhelpful. Positive reinforcement in the form of bonuses can help boost your self-confidence while allowing you a burst of pride and accomplishment.
It’s also easier to work toward your goals when there is a tasty or exciting treat on the line. If your chance at ordering pizza on Friday hinges you on completing ten work-related tasks, you’re most likely to complete those tasks—and in record time.
Always choose to reward yourself with something that you want but do not need. For example, it may be tempting to make ‘one hour of Netflix’ your reward, but that might not be a good idea. Relaxing with some television after a long day of work is an emotional and mental necessity for many.
Instead, try rewarding yourself with something unique or uncommon. Special foods, new shoes, a wished-for toy or collectible, and even a new book can all make fantastic rewards. Try taking a few minutes to write down a dozen potential rewards for yourself. You might be surprised by how excited you feel when you’re done.
It can feel nearly impossible to focus on work when your smartphone keeps dinging, your television is blaring, or your dogs are barking. Repetitive noises or alerts that catch our attention break the flow of our concentration. Jumping back into that thought process can be challenging and frustrating, especially after repeated distractions.
Limiting these distractions is imperative. Once again, it may be helpful to think back to your behavior when you worked in an office. More than likely, your employer discouraged you from being on your phone and scrolling through social media all day. That’s because our smartphones continuously distract us, especially when we use them to access social media.
Though it can feel strange to start the morning by turning your phone off, it may be a wise habit to adopt. If you rely on text messages from coworkers or employers, you may want to ask that these contacts switch to email. This way, you can access your essential communications after settling down at your desk or workspace, and not before.
You may also want to turn off your television, even if you only enjoy it for the background noise during work. There are similar alternatives you can utilize that aren’t as likely to distract you. For example, classical music can help engage the brain in a way that television simply can’t.
Instrumentals don’t feature any lyrics, which is also a potential positive. While you may love listening to your favorite albums while getting some work done, those lyrics can creep into your written work if you’re not careful. And while you’ll enjoy singing along to those hit tracks, it’s unwise to multitask like this.
If you have animals that require attention, don’t hesitate to take them for a walk or spend fifteen minutes playing. Not only will these help them expend some energy and feel calmer, but it can also help you to feel more positive and stress-free when sitting down to get some work done. Always limit your distractions as mindfully as possible.
Dress for Success
When you first started working from home, you may have celebrated the fact that you never had to take your pajamas off. After months of enjoying your softest pair of PJs, the thrill may be wearing off. Sadly, wearing pajamas and being productive are hardly ever related. That’s because our brain relies on associations.
Typically, our favorite pair of PJs reminds us of feeling sleepy, satisfied, and comfortable. Compare those feelings to the ones recalled by your standard work uniform or outfit. How do they differ? You may quickly realize that your work outfit helped you to feel awake, capable, and motivated.
Dressing for success is a great way to prepare yourself for your workday and get into a positive frame. There’s no harm in wearing your best work attire, even if no one sees you wearing it. You can also take extra time to work on your hair or makeup before getting started on your work tasks.
Though it may seem illogical to work so hard on your appearance if you’re working from home, it’s important to remember that our brains are creatures of habit. They’ve built associations that take years and sometimes decades to change or break. Consequently, it’s often smarter to simply work with our habits rather than against them.
Wake Up in the Morning
Even if you don’t have conference calls or emails to attend to in the morning hours, it’s a good idea to go ahead and set that early morning alarm. If you’re accustomed to working nights, it still may be a good idea to train yourself to wake in the morning. Not only will you see a beautiful sunrise, but you’ll also be able to make the most of your day.
For many, the sweet aroma of a fresh brewed cup of coffee can ignite the senses and encourage wakefulness. If you are one of these people, invest in a quality coffee maker and set the timer to have your cup-o-joe ready and waiting as soon as you wake up. The aroma of those freshly brewed beans will encourage you to get out of bed and get your day started bright and early!
Highly productive people tend to share one thing in common: They all wake up very early in the morning. The reason why varies from person to person, there are a few common benefits of waking up with the sunrise. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Peace and quiet
- A relaxed breakfast
Let’s take a moment to explore these benefits and discover if an earlier wake-up call might help you become more motivated and productive.
Peace and Quiet
The early morning hours tend to be pretty quiet. Before the morning rush hour begins, there’s hardly anyone out and about, resulting in a more peaceful waking. Rather than awakening to the chaotic sounds of a fully-awake world, it’s far more relaxing to wake up in moderate darkness and quiet.
Consequently, waking up in the morning can help you enjoy a higher quality of sleep. It can also start you off in a positive, calm mood. When you feel more relaxed and confident, you’re bound to manage your time more effectively.
When you wake up in the morning, you have a higher chance of completing all of your daily to-dos. Most commercial spaces hold hours that favor morning and afternoon shoppers, and you can avoid rush hour traffic by doing your shopping immediately after waking but before settling down to get some work done.
Because you’ll have all of your tedious shopping errands done before the afternoon begins, you’ll have the entire day to get some work done, relax, and enjoy your time. And while you may have to adjust your bedtime to maintain this early-morning schedule, the change of pace may be worth it.
When you’re up and ready to go before your neighbors have even opened their eyes, you have a little extra time to treat yourself to a relaxed breakfast. Instead of rushing to cram a bagel or an energy bar down your throat, you can take your time and create a wholesome breakfast that hits the spot.
Breakfast is one of the most skipped meals, but it’s also one of the most beneficial. Unfortunately, millions of Americans don’t eat breakfast, often due to poor timing. Starting your day with a healthy boost of food-derived energy can keep you feeling motivated throughout the entire day.
Though it’s completely normal to enjoy your alone time, it’s also worthwhile to remember that human beings are social creatures. As such, socialization is vital to maintaining proper mental health. However, when your coworkers have been replaced with couch cushions, it can be tricky to restore that natural communication.
During your breaks, you can turn your smartphone back on and utilize your brief respite to call or text a friend or loved one. You can keep the conversation short during your working hours and spend hours talking during your free time.
The key to maintaining socialization during your work hours is communicating with someone who is easy to speak with and who makes you feel good about yourself. While you may be tempted to strike up a conversation with an exciting but argumentative friend, this could lead to distractions.
If possible, you may also want to form relationships with people who share your hobbies or interests. That way, you can converse about something you’re passionate about without having to endure an unexpected argument.
Invest in Your Hobbies
After practicing the above steps, you may want to schedule a little time each day for hobbies and personal interests. When working from home, it can be easy to let your workday bleed over into your free time. Resist this temptation. Not only will you enjoy your free time more thoroughly, but you’ll also get to give your hobbies some undivided attention.
No matter what you enjoy doing in your free time, be sure to allow yourself to explore this interest to its fullest extent. If you find yourself constantly distracted throughout the day by thoughts of what you’ll do when you’re finished with your work, planning your hobbies can help.
Instead of wondering what activity you’ll do, you can work harder to complete your work and begin having some fun. Hobbies are a great way to improve your mood and motivate yourself during long, tedious workdays.
It can be helpful to practice daily gratitude. On particularly frustrating days, this task can seem impossible or meaningless. But when things seem hectic, overwhelming, or stressful, recognition can help you remain grounded. Practicing gratitude can help you refocus your attention on positive aspects of your life, rather than lingering on negative thoughts.
This is also one of the most simple habits you can build. All you need to do is think of at least one thing that you feel grateful for. This could be your shelter, your spouse, your pet, or even your well-stocked pantry. Many people in the world are not privileged to the same types of luxuries that we’re accustomed to, including clean water and plentiful food.
Taking a moment to recognize this unfairness and allow yourself to feel grateful for your blessings can reduce the intensity of current worries. Rather than focusing on how irritating your coworker is during Zoom meetings, you might spend time ruminating on how fortunate you are to own a personal computer capable of running such software.
The only major drawback of gratitude is that it can lead to feelings of guilt. It’s important to remember that many of the privileges you enjoy are things you worked to earn or comforts you were born into. Guilt has no place in experiencing gratitude.
If you begin to feel uncomfortable about your premier position in life, try to redirect those feelings by allowing yourself to experience compassion and empathy. Gratitude can make us more mindful and lead to a more charitable, giving, and fulfilling life.
Seek Help When You Need It
It’s perfectly fine to feel absolutely awful on occasion, we are all human. Everyone has bad days, and working from home can be just as isolating as it is convenient. If the above steps don’t help you find motivation and peace, you may want to consider remote counseling.
An online therapist or counselor can help you work through any issues that may be holding you back from enjoying your happiest and most productive life. They can also be there to listen to you when life feels overwhelming. There’s no shame in reaching out for help when you need it, so it’s wise to be open to counseling.
Counseling may help you to learn new coping mechanisms. You may discover new ways of thinking that can help you break bad habits and start practicing better ones. And if counseling isn’t affordable or preferable, you can also choose to call one of the many mental health hotlines that are available 24/7.
The bottom line is that help is always available. Even though you may feel like your situation is dire or unsolvable, there are people waiting to help you work through those issues. If you’re ever desperate for advice, support, or comfort, reach out to a professional counselor, therapist, or help hotline for immediate assistance. You’ll be glad you did.
There are several ways that you can regain your momentum, focus, and motivation while working from home. Setting and adhering to a daily routine, being patient with yourself, and practicing positive lifestyle habits can help. Of course, it’s also important to practice exceptional self-care.
Be sure to reward yourself for your completed tasks and maintain contact with friends and loved ones. If you consistently try your best, invest in yourself, and minimize distractions, there’s no limit to how productive and inspired you can be.
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS
- College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Tips for Social Media Distractions
- Harvard Business Review: How to Cultivate Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride on Your Team
- Huffington Post: 31 Million Americans Skip Breakfast Each Day
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity
- Mayo Clinic: Job burnout: How to spot it and take action
- Metro: Why you shouldn’t work from your bed when working from home during coronavirus self-isolation
- Springer Nature: The cooperative human
- PayScale: THE POWERFUL MORNING RITUALS OF FAMOUSLY PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE
- com: Positive Reinforcement in Psychology (Definition + 5 Examples)
- com: Mental Health Hotline
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