Working from home full time, or having the option to work from home flexibly, is becoming an increasingly popular choice for many workers. With advances in technology, cloud based storage systems, and video conferencing, it is also becoming far easier for more industries to have at least some workers based at home.
The ability to do this has become all the more important in 2020, as we are facing challenging times with the impact of Coronavirus or COVID-19 on work and social lives. With government advice being updated daily, employers and workers alike are being required to be more flexible to enable the vast majority of the workforce to work from home.
Whilst some people will be pleased to be able to set up their home office, and will see their productivity increase, for some of us, finding the motivation to complete good quality work from the comfort of our homes may be more difficult. And with the TV remote next to you and your bed in the next room, it’s easy to see why!
With this in mind, we’ve been brainstorming some quick and easy ways to stay motivated whilst working from home, so that we can continue to be productive during the coming weeks.
How to stay motivated whilst working from home:
- Set up a workstation
- Take regular breaks
- Write to-do lists
- Eliminate distractions
- Plan activities and rewards
Set up a workstation.
Although the prospect of working from your bed might seem great at first, in reality, this is not the place where you will be inspired to do your best work. Aside from the temptation to squeeze a quick nap in between calls or tasks, working from your bed will also blur the lines between work time and rest time, which could lead to disruption in your sleeping pattern and increased anxiety levels.
So, where possible, get yourself set up with a workstation that mirrors your in-office set up as much as possible. Get your laptop and any additional screens set up on a table or desk, sit on a chair that will support your back as much as possible, and if you can, be near some natural light.
We understand though that this may not be possible for everyone depending on your living situation - you may have housemates or family who also need to work from home so space is tight, or you may live in a studio flat or house share with no communal space. If this is the case, try and get yourself set up on a table or similar in your room. We’ve seen some fantastic examples out there of people using ironing boards and baths as desks!
Take regular breaks.
Breaking up your day with regular times away from your desk and your screen can do wonders for inspiring you to get back and get on with your work. It gives your brain and your body time to re-energise and re-focus. Try and schedule in a break or two in the morning, a lunch break, and afternoon breaks.
These don’t have to be long breaks - they can be five minutes away from your screen, a quick virtual cup of tea with a colleague or friend, an episode of something on TV, or a virtual workout class. Doing this will also help you pass the time during the day, and keep your routine as normal as possible in the circumstances.
Write to-do lists.
Begin each week or each day by writing a list of tasks that you’d like to get done. Whether you do this on a Google doc, online organisational platform or old fashioned pen and paper, it will help you manage your time, and motivate you to complete your list of tasks. Plus, you can cross them off as you finish them, and then look back and see what you’ve achieved.
It can also help you to plan ahead and have a quick contingency plan in place just in case your internet connection crashes or you have a power cut during an important video call. Take a look at Rod McMillan, the marketing manager for Monster’s top tips on PACEing yourself to stay motivated during an unexpected work crisis.
We are all guilty of getting distracted or procrastinating every now and again. However, the chances of being distracted are greatly increased when working from home. Your housemates or family, your pets, your Netflix account, and the lack of manager or working team members around you can all be points of distraction.
So, where you can, get yourself set up in a workspace where there are limited distractions. Mute your social media accounts and schedule yourself breaks where you can watch TV. If you have pets, give yourself times during the day where you can cuddle or play with them. If you have a cat, sometimes setting up a distraction keyboard can help you get rid of an unwanted furry helper! Arrange regular check ins with your work team or manager to discuss what you’re working on. Speak to your housemates and ask them politely to let you work in peace, and arrange times during the day to chat and catch up. As Rod McMillan says, it is important to set up some ground rules to guarantee success:
Working at home does not mean you are available to be interrupted at any time, can do extra chores or pick the kids up from swimming.
Plan activities and rewards.
We’re all children at heart - sometimes, knowing that we’re going to get a treat can do wonders at motivating us to complete a task!! Whether that’s allowing yourself a sweet treat once you’ve blitzed your emails, arranging a ‘virtual cheers’ on a Friday with a glass of bubbly or a cuppa, or planning in a group video chat with your friends for the end of the day, having something to look forward to can really help boost your productivity and motivation levels.