You’ve always dreamed of working from home. You speculated about the endless possibilities of writing your own schedule or staying in your pajamas all day. Now it’s happened, you’re discovering the reality is very different. It can be hard to find motivation when you’re working in an environment where you’re used to resting. With no managers peering over your shoulder or colleagues pulling your leg, it’s easy to slip into a slump. Is there a solution? Fortunately, there is!
Several strategies exist that you can employ on a day-to-day basis, to trick your brain into office mode. They require little practice and provide an instant boost to your productivity. Try and apply these five tips to your next at-home workday, and see if you notice the benefits.
1. Compartmentalize – Mentally & Physically
Your brain needs cues to know when to switch on and off. The danger of working at home is that ‘work mode’ often bleeds into ‘rest mode’ and vice versa, which leaves you in a constant state of checking emails and procrastinating. Setting yourself some clear boundaries can help negate this risk.
If you can, have a dedicated workroom. Ideally, you’d have a home office where you can shut the door and leave your work at the end of the day.
Where this isn’t possible, try and avoid working in rooms where you relax – i.e., living room and bedroom. Kitchens, kid’s bedrooms, and utility rooms are all good choices.
For those with limited rooms, create a strict timing schedule instead. Assign yourself work hours – e.g., 9-5 – and forbid yourself to check anything job-related outside of these times.
2. Get The Right Equipment
If you’ve recently transitioned to working from home, then your set-up probably involves a laptop, sofa, and coffee table. While convenient, the back pain and stiffness from an improper working environment is no joke and will negatively harm your productivity. If possible, purchase a proper desk, chair, and ergonomic keyboard. If you don’t have the space for this, at least attempt to achieve the recommended working position – which includes:
- The screen at eye level
- Arms at a 90-degree angle when using the keyboard
- Feet on the floor
- Back straight against the back of a chair.
The other motivation-killer is a slow computer. If your machine is old, then it’s far from ideal for work. See if your workplace can lend you a computer while you’re at home. If not, aim to increase your internet speed instead. I thought I had the best web package until I researched how many companies offered high-speed WiFi in Fort Worth, Texas. A quick Google will show you who the top providers are in your area.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Breaks are the enemy of procrastination. When working from home, distractions are unavoidable. The best way to reduce their effect on productivity is to take lots of regular short breaks. The trick is to schedule more than you think you need. Make them 5 or 10 minutes each, and plan for a few per hour.
This strategy helps mitigate the chance of losing focus during long hauls of working. You can move your attention to all those distractions for a few minutes and, with your curiosity quelled, can get back into work.
The tactic works best when you have so many breaks that they almost feel like a chore. Force yourself to get up, move around, and stretch. Once you’ve done this several times, you’ll be itching to get back to work to do something productive.
4. Schedule Movement In Your Day
We’ve already covered how pain and stiffness can affect motivation, but there are even more reasons why movement is essential for productivity. Exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety by increasing the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Increased calm subsequently promotes better concentration and improved functioning overall.
Movement also helps by raising your heart rate and increasing blood flow, which in turn improves oxygen flow to the brain. Our minds need oxygen to function, and higher levels are known to help cognitive function, as well as overall health.
You don’t have to run a marathon or do a heavy weights session to feel the benefits. Even a quick walk around the block or some jumping jacks in your break will help to improve productivity.
5.Stay Connected To Colleagues
Working at home can quickly feel isolating. Creating a digital workspace where you can communicate with colleagues as you would in-office can be an excellent drive for motivation. Platforms like Slack, Trello, Asana, or Evernote as great for recreating an office atmosphere online. You can use them to discuss and manage projects, but they also act as social media.
Our social workplace interactions can be just as crucial for our business interactions in terms of motivation. Feeling valued and part of a team has significant repercussions on productivity, so even the smallest chat during your break can help re-engage your brain with work.
Stay Healthy, Happy & Productive at Home
Despite the challenges, it is possible to thrive in a work-from-home environment. All it takes is a bit of discipline, forward planning and a positive attitude. Apply these tips to your workday to see you productivity skyrocket. They will also help with your overall health and happiness – so there’s no reason not to start now!