The idea of working from home appeals to many, but in reality not everyone finds it easy. Some of the joys of working from home include no commute, more flexibility over your time, no boss standing over your shoulder and no annoying co-workers.
On the other hand, there are many temptations and distractions and often procrastination takes the place of productivity.
The office gives you a structure, social interaction, less distractions and more visible accountability.
At home, it can be easy to spend too much time running errands, doing housework and watching daytime television.
So how do you stay motivated when working from home?
Here are 9 tips that will help whether you work from home full-time or every so often.
1. Create and follow a schedule
If you work from home every so often, it’s likely that you work similar hours to your colleagues in the office.
If you’re self-employed, set yourself working hours and stick to them. You don’t have to work the traditional 9-5, but you should decide how many hours you will work, and what time you will start and finish each day.
Having a schedule to follow gives a structure to your day which can support your productivity. It can also help to maintain boundaries between your professional and personal lives.
2. Dress the part
Rolling out of bed into the office still wearing your pyjamas can sound appealing, but actually showering and getting dressed tells your mind that it’s time for work.
Of course, you don’t need to dress in a full suit. Just make sure that what you wear when working from home is different from what you wear when lounging.
3. Have a dedicated work space
Like dressing the part, having a dedicated work space gives your mind a psychological cue that it’s time to get to work. A dedicated work space also helps to minimise distractions if you’re working from home with other people in the house.
4. Set a schedule for the week and the day ahead
Having a to-do list keeps you focused which can help you to stay motivated when working from home.
Either start or end your working week making your list of tasks for the week ahead. Include priorities and an estimate of how much time each task will take.
Likewise, at the start of each day, review what you have outlined for the week and identify the tasks you will focus on for that day.
5. Set boundaries
Having boundaries when working from home can be more challenging than when you are in the office. Lack of boundaries can be the enemy of productivity. A friend popping over for coffee or your partner asking you to hang the washing out are distractions that can encourage procrastination.
Be clear with family and friends that you’re actually working. You are not on vacation.
Let them know that if they contact you during your working hours, you will respond in the same way you would if you were working from the office.
If you’re working from home in a separate room, close the door. If you don’t have a separate room, consider using noise-cancelling headphones.
Additionally, let colleagues/clients know when and how to contact you. Can they call you at any time? Will you be checking email throughout the day or only at specified times?
6. Minimise digital distractions
Email and social media notifications are huge distractions and procrastination enablers. Turn off all social media and email notifications on your digital devices. Log out of email and only check at specific times. If necessary, let your colleagues/clients know and add a message to your email signature.
When you are feeling demotivated or you are working on something challenging, it can be tempting to do something else. Apps like StayFocusd and Freedom block the websites you use for procrastinating during the working day.
7. Prioritise your wellbeing
Your motivation can dip when you’re feeling hungry and tired so it’s important that you prioritise your well-being when working from home. Start the day by eating breakfast and doing some form of exercise.
It can also be beneficial to meditate or take some deep breaths before beginning your working day. Ensure you drink water throughout the day. Additionally, take regular breaks away from your desk to stretch and rest your eyes. Go outside and spend time in natural daylight as much as possible. It can be helpful to make this part of your lunch break. That way you actually take a lunch break and you get some fresh air and a change of scenery.
8. Ignore the housework
It can be tempting to see your time at home as a way to get more things done. And it can be. However, be sure not to do these things during your working hours. It can also be worthwhile preparing lunch the night before. Often, 15 minutes in the kitchen to make a sandwich can lead to a few hours washing dishes, doing laundry and making dinner. Alternatively, go out and buy lunch. This will also give you the opportunity to speak to other people and prevent you feeling isolated.
9. Finish each day in the same way
At the end of each working day, tidy your desk and if working in a separate room, close the door behind you. Create a ritual that helps you to switch from work mode. You could head to the gym, read a book, start cooking dinner or spend time with your children. Doing this sends a message to your brain that the working day is over. It creates a clear boundary between your work and home life.
With technological advances, working from home is now easier than ever. The challenge, however, can be to stay motivated. It can take time to master working from home effectively. Following the 9 tips outlined above can help you to work from home successfully and allow you to enjoy the benefits of flexibility and freedom.
Leanne Lindsey is a freelance writer and blogger for hire specialising in self-improvement, career and lifestyle topics. She is also a life coach who loves inspiring, motivating and empowering women to create a career and life they love. Visit her website to learn more about her available blogging services and to grab her free guide on how to live a happier life.