A day, here and there, working from home, when you have a specific task to complete, is one thing, but working at home, every day of the week, and working for yourself, brings with it its own unique challenges. Finding the balance between motivating yourself to do a full day’s work and not working too much, is actually trickier than that you might think. If you have ever thought that it would be great to work from home every day of the week, here are ten tips on how to keep yourself motivated and be more productive when working from home.
1. Get up, get dressed, and open the curtains
Pottering around in your pyjamas seems like a good idea, but I have found that I just don’t seem to get into the work frame of mind until I get dressed. I don’t put on a suit and tie, or anything like that, but I do get up and get dressed, before I sit down to work. The only thing I do, that you might find a little weird, is that I also put my shoes on to work! Sounds daft, I know, but somehow, that seems to put me into ‘work mode’.
2. Set yourself working hours
You will also find it easier to stay motivated if you work to set hours. Of course, just as it would be if you worked in an office, there will be days when you work longer hours, but I still treat 8.00am to 5.00pm as my normal working hours, with an hour for lunch at midday. Sticking to a regular routine makes it easier to stay motivated and not go wandering off to do something unproductive.
3. Watch out for the burnout
As a writer, I do get carried away sometimes with whatever it is I am working on and, if I’m not careful, I could end up working from the moment I wake up, to the moment my eyes start to close, late in the evening. Overall, I have found that, when I do a work marathon, I end up being so unproductive the following day that, I probably achieve less than if I had worked steadily over the two days.
4. Take breaks and have a walk around
Research has proven that people are far more productive if they take fifteen minute breaks every hour. I don’t follow that rule, because I find that if I take a break for too long I start to wind down and lose some of my motivation. I do, however, take short breaks and when I do, I get up from my desk and have a brief walk around. If you don’t, you get stiff and tired and are likely to give up altogether.
5. Have a dedicated work area and keep it tidy
If you can, set aside a room in the home as your workplace and keep it tidy and well organised. If you leave paperwork all over the place, you will just waste time hunting for things, when you could be doing something more productive. If you can’t aside a whole room, at least have a desk that is your work area. It’s much easier to keep the boundaries between work and home life, if you have an actual physical boundary between the two.
6. Be strict with yourself
You will need a lot of self-control to work at home, especially with all the distractions that crop up when you are online. One of the worst things for me is those blasted interesting looking links to content that I see on websites when I am supposed to be researching an article I am writing. Yep, I’ve seen all the pictures of Kate Middleton that queen got so angry about!
7. Eat something!
I’ll be honest, I have never been one for breakfast, but for most people, breakfast is essential, so they don’t run of steam half way through the morning, as is lunch, to avoid the mid-afternoon slump. What is for sure is that, if you try and go all day without something to eat, you will lose your concentration and motivation and become less productive. Make sure you have something to drink too, because dehydration makes you tired as well.
8. Don’t have an afternoon nap
At one point, I got into the habit of starting work at about 6.00am and then taking a nap after lunch, but that really wasn’t a good way to stay productive! I’d start off the day full of motivation and energy, but after a little snooze, I just couldn’t get myself going again. Everyone’s different, I know, but that’s how it worked out for me.
9. Take days off
When your work is in your home, it’s always tempting to ‘just get a few things out of the way’, when you should be spending time with your family. I live on my own now, so I don’t have the family issues, but I still do take complete days off work and I find that I am far more productive in the days after I have taken a total break from work.
10. Only work at home if you like your job
I don’t really need to worry about motivation, because I love what I do and I love working from home. I will admit, though, that I do struggle to keep focused when I occasionally have to work on something that I am really not enjoying, so I can only imagine how tough it would be to work at home doing a job that you hate. For that reason, I would say; don’t think that working at home will make a job you don’t like more bearable, or you’ll have no motivation whatsoever and probably just end up doing no work at all.
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