Working from home is challenging for most people. From house chores to watching television, the distractions are endless.
An office environment makes it easy for you to fall into a routine as there is some accountability when your boss is physically in your presence. In the absence of this, it becomes easy to procrastinate and not be able to meet deadlines.
As much as being in quarantine during the pandemic is keeping people safe and stopping the spread of the virus, staying cooped up inside the house for long periods can affect your mental wellbeing.
Although technology has made communicating with each other easier and efficient resulting in increased productivity, it still might be difficult to stay motivated while working from home. But there are a lot of strategies you can use to keep yourself motivated.
Wake Up Early
We all know the above-mentioned infamous quote of Benjamin Franklin by heart, and what’s the one thing that’s common among famous people? All of them have talked about the benefits of early rising, which means it is fundamental to being successful in life. And, though it has been stressed upon, for most people it is not something very easy to do, especially for those working from home. What helps us wake up early on normal working days? The need to avoid the irritated look on your boss’s face when you’re late. When you don’t even have to face that, it becomes easy to fall prey to oversleeping.
Research proves that waking up early increases productivity. I have even experienced it personally that on the days I wake up early, I have more energy which I utilize to be more productive than usual. Secondly, in the hopes of getting things done quickly you work faster and harder which increases your efficiency, and eventually your productivity. You don’t need to wake up too early like a person who has to commute to their workplace. Just get up early enough, between 7:30 AM to 8:30 which shows a glimpse of early morning and gives you a lot of time to complete tasks without rushing as you would be doing if you start work at the end of the day.
Trying to work while in your pajamas might not be helpful while working from home. You need to snap out of the slumber-party mood. I know we all want to wear the most comfortable clothes when we are at home, and especially when there are no co-workers why even bother to dress up? Findings of fashion psychologists suggest that we adopt the characteristics of the clothes we are wearing, meaning if we have pajamas strapped on, we would mostly feel lazy with low motivation for doing anything. So, how do we change that? By dressing up for work. But that does not mean you have to suit up. Instead of sweatpants, you could wear a pair of your day pants, and you’ll be anything but lazy. At least this works for me, so I am assuming it might work for you too.
Follow a Schedule
Having a dedicated time for the tasks you are supposed to perform during the day in the form of a schedule can help you become more functional than usual. There is a chance that without a fixed regiment you start postponing your tasks causing a shift in your workdays. It becomes a cycle where the delay takes your working hours from morning to evening and then late night where you try to do everything at once and end up getting so overwhelmed that you do nothing at all and go to bed stressed out. Trust me, I have been there, and it’s a nightmare.
Without a fixed timetable going off track is all too easy. There comes a time when the distractions engulf you so much that a task that only requires 20 minutes to complete takes two hours to get finished. Following routines does not come easily to most people, and that is why having your day planned out is a good way to stay motivated and be productive.
Work in Short Chunks of Time
Most human beings have a brief attention span, therefore it’s better to focus on work for short periods and then take a break. Telling yourself that you have 10 minutes to edit an article than to have two hours to edit 12 articles might help you feel more motivated and less overwhelmed.
Get Rid of Distractions
We all have a habit of getting distracted by the internet even while working in an office, and surfing increases exponentially when working from home. Bringing your focus back to work is a struggle once you get distracted. Since the source of distraction is right at your fingertips, how can you avoid it? The best way would be to put away your phone, or you could even try muting phone notifications. Be strict about checking your phone only when you’re taking a break after meeting a deadline you structured for yourself. Another way to limit interruptions is to block the websites that distract you.
A survey by Spiceworks discovered that employees in companies that don’t restrict any websites spend at least 4 hours per week on non-work-related websites.
It feels lucky to be working from home as it gives you the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want, but it can also be a curse if you are unable to balance out your productivity.
When everything fails, use the reward system to get back on track. For example, you could set up a timer of half an hour for getting a minor task completed, and afterward, reward yourself by making that cup of coffee you were craving or watch an episode of a TV show. This will allow you to gain some discipline and instead of putting off work until 9:00 pm because of interruptions, you’d be using the distractions as a reward.
Although the reward system is an excellent strategy, it has to be used in moderation. Working vigorously for two hours and then taking a break to play a video game for a little while is alright. But it’s fairly easy to get carried away with this system if you lack discipline because thinking that you are entitled to rewarding yourself with five hours of binge-watching a TV show after working for just an hour makes this strategy ineffective. Bottom line is that the reward system increases motivation and productivity only when you have the willpower to use it moderately.
Technology has made our lives convenient yet so sedentary as at offices we mostly work while sitting at a desk. At home, physical activity is even further reduced as there is no office building where there is a need to walk around attending to some tasks. Being physically inactive doesn’t just affect your health, it drops your motivation and productivity. Many studies show that working out gives you the energy that helps you get the work done.
A report by ExerciseRight studied about 200 workers found that 30 to 60 minutes of exercise during their lunch break had an average performance increase of 15%.
If the gym is far away, it’s hard to squeeze trips to the gym into your workday schedule. The best option is to get into a home workout routine. I have used this strategy, and it has done wonders for me. On days when I have low motivation and lots of work to get done, I exercise, and my stress levels go down which allows me to power through all the workload and finish the tasks in time.
Telecommuting is not for everybody, especially not extroverts. In order to cope with the discomfort they face while working from home, they could find adventures outside. On the contrary, introverts would find it easy to perform tasks at home, but at the cost of becoming too comfortable with it and end up reducing human interaction to a level where they forget the last time they got out of the house.
As a freelance writer, I love having the freedom to work whenever I want with nobody looking over my shoulder. I get work done at my own pace and even find the moments when I can enjoy it, so what do I have to complain about?
Motivation is a good plus while you’re trying to work from home, but what’s important is to acknowledge that you can’t stay motivated all the time. It fluctuates from one extreme to another like a pendulum, so do remember to be kind to yourself on days when you don’t feel like doing anything at all.
The takeaway is that, in these pressing times when we are going through a pandemic it’s good to have strategies that enable you to manage work while being quarantined, and maintain a good work-life balance so you can get through this with your mental and physical health intact.