For a lot of us, working from home can sound like a dream come true. Instant images of rolling out of bed and straight into a computer chair come to mind, as do staying in your jammies till noon and never having to brush your hair. But how do you stay motivated while working from home? How do you stay driven when all you want to do is watch Simpsons reruns on your couch, with your work email up? Chances are,your goals and ambitions will move to the back burner with a scenario like that one.
So to avoid that, you need a home-office game plan. You can't just stay in your bathrobe all day, making trips to the fridge in between meetings. You have to treat your kitchen like your office, and you have to work a little harder to motivate yourself to stay productive and professional. While that might begin to sound like a tall order (and no longer the sloth dream we envisioned,) it's actually not that hard. All it takes is a little bit of discipline and a lot of routine. You just need to create what you had back in your cubicle, in your home. Below are seven tips on how to stay motivated while working from home.
1. Dress Like You're Headed To The Office
Take off those slippers, girl. Just because you're at home doesn't mean you get to punch in eight hours sitting in your jammies. In order to get into the business mindset, you need to dress up for the day like you'd be swiping into your building and heading up the elevator to your office.
Lifestyle writer Alan Henry from Lifehack explained, "One of the most tempting perks of working from home is that you can toss on your PJs and sit at your computer, but after doing that once or twice, you'll find it's difficult to get out of the 'home' mindset and into the "work" mindset." So put on something business casual and get into the right mindset.
2. Keep The Morning Routine You Had As A Commuter
Did you start the day grabbing coffee at your corner cafe? Did you listen to podcasts on the bus? Or did you catch up with events by reading the paper? Whatever it was, try to keep the routine as similar as possible when you've switched over working from home. That habit is like a trigger for your brain that you're about to get productive, so following through with that will get you into the mindset of a regular workday morning.
Henry wrote, "Following your normal routine serves as a mental reminder that it's time to work, and separates your time at home from how you would feel on a weekend or holiday." So get to brewing that coffee.
3. Break Your Day Into Structured Segments
It can be easy to take a quick break from work by wandering over to the fridge, and then magically finding yourself in front of the TV and halfway through an episode of Downton Abbey. When you have the comforts of home siren song-ing you from every direction, you're going to have to put some structure into your day so you don't get caught off guard and slack. I'm talking time tables and deadlines.
Business writer Sarah Pierce at Business Insider agreed, "Create a structure that mimics what you had in the workplace. Structure your day so you have a start and finish time, with certain hours set aside for specific activities." Grab your favorite planner and break your day into time intervals with their assigned tasks and projects — you'll get a lot more done that way.
4. Get Out Of Your Bedroom
How, exactly, do you think you'll throw yourself into beast mode when you're surrounded by cozy blankets and fluffy pillows? Working on your unmade bed will make you about as productive as someone calling in sick: It's just not really going to happen. Your mindset won't be right.
Paul Tassi, journalist and contributor to Forbes, agreed, "If wearing pajamas makes you lazier while working, working in bed triples that effect at the very least. Not only that, but it will stress you out to have the place where you do all your work also be the very spot where you try to relax and fall asleep at night." Move away from your stuffed animals and set up shop in the kitchen or living room, instead.
5. Set Goals To Motivate Yourself To Keep Your Drive
It's a different atmosphere when you work in an office — you have inspiring people working around you, you have an environment that makes you want to buckle down and succeed, and you even have some friendly competition brewing in your department. But when you're alone on the couch with your laptop?
It can become easy to just clock in and clock out when it's just you. In order to keep your drive going, set yourself not only every day task goals, but monthly career goals. That way you'll always be working towards something bigger and feel that same drive you would in a busy office.
Pierce offered, "It's one thing to set small goals like completing your to-do-list — you also have to set goals to motivate yourself to succeed." Whether it's beating last month's metrics, pleasing a client, or wrapping a project you can stick in your portfolio, always be working towards something bigger.
6. Pencil In Distractions
Alright, I know one of the perks of working from home is that the atmosphere is a lot more lax, so to not completely kill that vibe I won't rule out all distractions. But for the sake of keeping things professional and on course, try penciling those distractions into your schedule.
For example, watch that Downton Abbey episode on your lunch break, make a time slot for grabbing coffee with your friend, and sprinkle in a couple of 10 minute breaks throughout your day especially for you social media sleuthing. That way you'll still feel like you have structure and you'll stay disciplined.
Lifestyle writer Katie Golde at self improvement site Greatist suggested, "Check email and social network updates at set times, no matter how distracting that Facebook notification may be." No matter how many people are hitting you up on Messenger, don't check it until it's scheduled time comes around.
7. Go Outside To Shake Off The Isolation
If your job has you working from home five days a week, eight hours a day, there are going to be moments where you might be tempted to have a Tom Hanks and Wilson moment. There will be times where it'll be a little touch and go in that apartment of yours.
In order to avoid that, make it a point to go outside at least once a day. Your sanity will thank you, and it'll have the potential to recharge your motivation to keep working. Tassi explained, "...going outside to do anything, run errands, take a walk, etc. is required for your mental sanity. You don’t want to slowly morph into a recluse and find yourself with drawn blinds and fifty cats in a few year’s time." Not that owning 50 cats is a bad thing, but in order to not lose your mind, allow yourself to crack open that front door once in a while.
If you stick to these tips and keep your day structured and disciplined, you'll have no problem working from home!