Staying motivated while working from home

15 Sep - 31 Oct 2020


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We’ve talked about how to work efficiently with your remote team members, but even those methods require a fair bit of self-motivation to be effective, which can be understandably challenging when you’re working from home. After all, the house lacks many of the driving forces in the office that keep you on your toes—your schedule, your co-workers, your boss.

So how can you resolve all these shortcomings from the tempting comfort of your own home? Here are some self-help methods you can adopt to stay alert and productive.

Draw up a schedule.

First and foremost, it’s not uncommon to lose your sense of time or urgency when you’re not working in the office. At home, your working hours may feel like a blur compared to your workplace, where there’s a fixed start and end to your day. The house is also notorious for its many distractions, like the television or the bed. That’s why it’s important to have a well-structured plan for the time spent in your home office. Plan a schedule that would ensure you’re not only being productive, but getting enough breaks as well, so you don’t get burnt out. But how many breaks is enough? Well, it depends on the individual. For starters, try allocating short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes for every 1 or 2 hours spent working.

Image: Nick Morris

Set short term goals.

Sometimes, long term projects may seem too daunting, which could end up discouraging you from starting or finishing them. Rather than constantly telling yourself you have to complete an entire report before the day ends, split it up into parts that you can work on sequentially. For instance, aim to finish one paragraph within the next 30 minutes, then take a short break and move on to the next. Perspective makes a huge difference! If it’s something you’re really not looking forward to, try tackling it in even smaller bursts. Work on it for just 10 minutes, then take a quick break if you need to. More often than not you’ll find yourself wanting to keep the momentum going, which is one of the most important aspects of staying on task. In summary, segmenting your responsibilities rather than treating them as long term stretch goals could help you to better digest your workload and keep the procrastination at bay.

Reward yourself.

Now, we’ve established that the house is riddled with distractions, but you can use these to your own advantage by turning them into mini rewards. Incentivising your objectives can further encourage you to accomplish what you need to do, and even have you looking forward to the completion of a project. When you tell yourself you’ll be able to watch an episode of your favourite series this task, or celebrate the sending of an email with lunch, you might end up finishing with more focus and better results. Of course, make sure your rewards are proportional to the degree of work you complete, and hone your self-restraint by enjoying your rewards moderation. Bonuses can brighten your mood towards working and provide you with a sense of accomplishment that could improve your confidence and quality of output.


Image: Symbiothy

Practice good self-care.

Your mental and physical wellbeing are directly related. Therefore, it’s important to look after yourself as much as you can. Fulfilling the basic essentials such as ample rest, good hygiene and nutritious, regular meals go a long way in gearing you up for a day of productivity. Do your best not to neglect any of your physical or emotional needs in favour of work and figure out what works best in helping you feel refreshed and ready to take on your next challenge. It could be a hot or cold shower, a face mask, a brief jog, an ice-cold latte, or just some quiet time alone—the list goes on. You know yourself best!

Head outside!

Staying hunkered down in your own home for consecutive days surely isn’t good for anyone. Of course, there’s always the classic idea of working somewhere else outside. But if you’re not fond of the uncertainty that comes with finding a table at your favourite coffeehouse or the state of your Wi-Fi connectivity, you can simply take a break in the form of a short walk within your neighbourhood. Don’t forget to look at far away objects to rest your eyes, especially after staring at the computer for hours on end. Staying cooped up for too long will do a number on our overall mood, as we’d all know by now, so it would be beneficial to soak up a bit of sun and enjoy the breeze every now and then. Additionally, get some social interaction if you can. Go for a walk with a family member or even run a quick errand—a brief interaction with a cashier during a snack run still counts as something; humans are inherently social creatures, after all.

Image: Mimi Thian

Working from home isn’t for everyone and is certainly much harder than it seems. On the other hand, others will thrive in having more agency over their schedule and responsibilities. Don’t shy away from cutting yourself some slack if you think you’re not performing up to your usual expectations, and don’t chide yourself for it. You’re adjusting to a new routine and gradually, you’ll realise you’re slowly getting used to your new routine the more you commit to it. Consistency is key, and hopefully these tips we’ve shared will aid your efforts in finding the discipline and motivation needed to make your home office days more fruitful.