Working from home is awesome – until you see your bed and the idea of a nap is too alluring to pass up. Or worse, your neighbor decides that it’s the perfect day to get started on his DIY woodworking project, firing up all sorts of noisy machinery while you’re trying to meet a deadline.
For many modern professionals, especially in the time of COVID-19, working from home has become a safety precaution as much as it is a privilege. But every once in a while, with multiple distractions at home hampering our productivity, it can be hard to stay motivated.
If you’re finding it difficult to feel productive, stay on task, and get your work done, here are some effective ways to help you stay motivated while you work from home.
First things first, carve out a place that’s entirely dedicated to work, preferably outside your bedroom. You might be tempted to work in bed as it’s the most comfortable space in your entire home, but part of the reason we’re more motivated to work at the office is that we associate the place with productivity.
When you set up a mini home office and sit down at a desk where you can’t see your bed, your brain instantly knows it’s time to get work done. It establishes the idea that work is your sole purpose in that space. Even just the kitchen table or a corner desk in the living room is a better alternative than working in your bedroom. Also, make sure that your workspace is clean and free of distractions. Your house has many mental traps, so avoid placing anything near your workstation that can set you off on a different path.
Without a structured workday, you won’t be able to manage your time wisely. As you sip leisurely on an extra cup of coffee or enjoy a particularly hearty but long breakfast, you might find that you start shifting your work hours later and later. Then, you extend your workday later into the evenings, which causes you to have late nights as well.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a clear schedule and to structure your day like you would in the office. Establish a strict time to begin and end your workday, and try to stick to it as much as possible. To stay on schedule, divide your tasks into segments and take note of the time it’ll take to complete them throughout the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal reminders or events that tell you when to start on new tasks or shift gears. You can easily do all these with Google Calendar.
This is somewhat related to the 2nd suggestion. Blocking out small periods of time and carefully planning what to do during that timeframe will make big tasks more manageable.
For instance, let’s say you’re a recruiter. You’ll have more motivation when you tell yourself that you only need to scan through 10 resumes on your HR recruitment software in the next 30 minutes, rather than telling yourself that you have to read 50 resumes by lunchtime. You can then take 5 to 10-minute breaks every half hour to release some stress and get you ready for the next round of tasks. This will help you feel less overwhelmed by the pile of requirements you have to finish.
You may find that you struggle to continue on with a task each time you’re distracted. You can stay motivated by limiting the interruptions you experience and the distractions around you.
This means mute your phone’s notifications, check your email once an hour, and stay off social media when you’re not on a break. You can also set your phone on “Do Not Disturb” until you finish a particular task.
If you’re working from home and have your kids around, keep them occupied, so they don’t end up interrupting your work. Give them activities to and only check on them at a certain time.
Additionally, establish some ground rules on what’s considered a legitimate reason to interrupt you while you’re working. Then, you can reward them with a cookie or a fun activity for behaving and playing on their own.
You might find yourself working best when you know that at the end of a stressful workday, there’s little reward waiting for you. For example, you can tell yourself that you can binge-watch the latest season of your favorite Netflix show if you finish work by 6pm. Or you can tell yourself that as soon as you finish a presentation, you can have a cup of your favorite tea.
Little incentives go a long way toward helping you stay motivated and get work done efficiently. It helps you see what you’re capable of accomplishing within the day or a certain time period. According to experts from Psych Central, rewarding oneself with little treats also helps a person feel more energized and contented, boosting their self-command and efficiency.
Aside from rewards, challenges can help you get moving too! For instance, you can challenge yourself to write 500 words in 30 minutes. Once you actually get past that goal, try beating it by writing 600 words during the next 30-minute time slot.
Along the way, you might also make some discoveries about your working habits. Maybe you’re more focused when you’re sitting at the kitchen table or you find that work faster after having lunch. Learning these things will help you set your day up for success.
You’ll never stay motivated if you’re perpetually exhausted or you’re fuelled by caffeine only. To perform at your peak, you need plenty of rest, a healthy diet and self-care!
However, meeting your self-care needs at the moment might be a bit more challenging than usual. After all, maintaining a healthy diet composed of fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t easy if you’re limiting your trips to the grocery store. What you can do is to limit your sugar intake and eat as many home-cooked meals as you can.
Also, don’t forget to step back from work every once in a while or when it gets completely overwhelming. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of your paid leaves. Have a day dedicated to self-care at least once a month.
If you’re the type of person who still wants to stay productive during your mental health break, limit your productivity to reading up on articles that introduce a new personal skill such as email marketing or even something completely random like learning how to crochet.
Working from home and being your own personal manager is great, but it’s easy to let your personal life bleed into your work life. At home, there are plenty of distractions and you can become your own productivity killer.
Hopefully, with the tips above, you can stay motivated, even in the most challenging circumstances. Wishing you the best of luck!
Author: Itamar Gero
Itamar Gero is the founder and CEO of Skillfuel, the recruitment automation software that makes talent acquisition easy by helping you manage, strategize, track, integrate, and adapt your recruitment efforts. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).