Working from home has plenty of perks. You have a two-second commute, more flexibility, and fewer distractions.
However, the increased freedom of working from home makes it hard to stay motivated and on task.
Daily productivity ebbs and flows, so it’s natural to be more motivated during certain times of the day. Even so, when you’re the only one managing your time, it’s easy to fall into bad habits which can lead to subpar work and unhappy clients.
To prevent this, here are ten tips to keep your motivation up during the workday. If you’re in a slump right now, try a few of these tips!
1. Wake Up Early
For many, this is the hardest part of working from home. With no morning commute and no manager watching the clock, it’s easy to sleep in.
Training yourself to get up on time like you do have a more traditional job creates a routine that encourages productivity. Studies have shown that getting up in the morning turns you into a more proactive person.
If you wake up at 7:30 AM every day, you can start work at 7:45. Best of all, you end your workday sooner. This will motivate you to hit the ground running first thing.
I know it hurts. That’s why coffee was invented. And annoying cats that want you to wake up.
2. Put On Actual Clothes
It’s incredibly tempting when working from home to wear the most comfortable set of clothes you own (aka universal fat pants), since most of the time you’re rolling out of bed and logging on to a laptop.
According to this Forbes article:
“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
In other words, you are what you wear. If you wouldn’t leave your house in what you’re wearing, then consider it a fashion NO for your workday.
3. Don’t Work Where You Sleep
A home office or workspace is important to create a professional environment as a virtual worker.
If you work from home full time, you can write off at least part of your rent as a business expense, as it’s technically office space. If you are in a confined space, designate a desk as your home office and use it only during your work hours.
4. Make A Schedule
This can start with waking up early (see #1), and can expedite whatever you need to get done on a certain day. There are plenty of scheduling tools to organize your day, also.
Designated breaks, lunch, work sessions will keep you on track and help you pinpoint areas where you may need to automate work or create efficiencies.
5. Earn Rewards
Do two hours of solid work and then reward yourself with a break or other perks.
Get that one important project finished and do something else you enjoy for a while. Turn distractions into rewards, and then have the willpower to use them in moderation. Micro-rewards go a long way to both making you feel accomplished, and giving you a brief respite to boot.
6. Get Off Slack
Speaking of distractions, Slack and other instant messaging programs can be problematic. It’s not just the time it takes to read and type messages to co-workers, it’s the fact that the little “bong” message noise instantly jolts you out of concentrating on your current work.
It’s these constant interruptions that sap your motivation and distract you from staying focused on the work in front of you. Mute channels you don’t need and take long Slack discussions offline to a meeting or phone call.
7. Go Outside
When working from home, your house or apartment can become your bunker. It’s a safe spot that has everything you need, so why should you ever bother leaving?
This generally isn’t a problem for extroverts, as they’ll seek out adventure elsewhere as part of their personality. Not so much for introverts, who are drawn to solitude. Almost too well.
In addition to your body needing actual sunlight to live, going outside to do anything, run errands, take a walk, etc. is required for your mental sanity.
8. Talk to Other Human Beings
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the previous item. Even if it’s just going to the grocery store and making conversation with the clerk, it’s something and will prevent you from becoming socially inept.
Working from home is a far cry from working in an office where you have coworkers around you day in and day out. This is the way the world works now in many fields, so you have to adapt and improvise, and make up for the lack of human contact where you can.
By interacting with others on a daily basis, in whatever form, you’ll continue to develop social skills that email and texting simply won’t give you.
9. Limit Social Media
While even normal office drones have the problem of surfing the internet while at work, it’s amplified exponentially by working from home. Most of the time it’s social media.
This is where the Zen-like discipline of working from home must propel you to take drastic action to ensure your continued productivity. Tools like Self Control (for Mac users) are used to limit social media time. Here’s a list of tools for pc users, also.
10. Have a Side-Project to Fill the Dead Space
The typical office job often makes a workday far longer than it has any right being. Not to mention the time spent watching the clock, especially when you’ve finished your workload.
Working from home can turn a 9-5 gig into a 9-2 simply by trimming the fat from your workday.
But what to do with the extra time? Again, there’s the temptation to binge watch Netflix, but I highly suggest using it to take up a hobby or a side-project that’s actually productive. It could be working out or it could be something else you’ve always wanted to do.
People with more traditional jobs may not be able to find the time, but you, working from home, will likely be able to streamline your own schedule so that you have time to take on another challenge. Use the freedom of working at home to your benefit, and don’t waste the opportunities it provides.