Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer who’s been voluntarily home-based for years or an employee forced to work remotely due to the global health crisis, you’ll need to find ways to keep your motivation topped up.
When you work from home, there’s no boss breathing down your neck, ensuring you feel the pressure to get your work done. Nor do you have colleagues sitting across from you who can keep you motivated with their positive teamwork vibes. It’s just you and your computer.
The likelihood is that you’ll have good days and bad days. Days when you feel inspired to race through your work and get to clocking off time with a sense of achievement. And days when the time drags on endlessly and by lunchtime all you’ve managed to do is surf social media, read the news, eat half a dozen snacks and generally procrastinate in as many ways as you can imagine.
That’s where this article comes in. We’ve rounded up some of the best self-motivation tips needed to work at home, so that you can enjoy feeling more productive and ready to tackle your workload head-on.
Tips for Keeping Your Self-Motivation Topped Up
When it comes to self-motivation tips, there are plenty to consider. Not every tip will suit your particular approach to work, lifestyle or general ethos. That’s why we’ve included so many – you can pick and choose the right blend to get you back on track.
1. Set a Daily Goal
Knowing what you need to achieve on any given day can be highly motivating, particularly if you’re a goal-oriented person. Make sure your goals are challenging but also realistic; goals that are too easy won’t serve to motivate you, but nor will those that are all but impossible to achieve.
2. Reward Yourself
Given the state of the world in general right now, it’s important to be kind to yourself. In work terms, that means building rewards into your working week. Whether it’s a reward for finishing a certain task or project or simply for making it through the day/week, treat yourself regularly.
3. Focus on the Big Picture
Whether you’re a freelancer responsible for your own business or an employee contributing to company goals, understanding the bigger picture and your role it in can help to keep you motivated when working from home. It’s easier to commit to finishing a dull task when it feels like there’s a worthy purpose to doing so.
4. Write Lists
For me, this is a personal favourite. Simple but effective, having a list of tasks – whether on a Post-It or a Kanban board – means you can regularly tick off something you’ve achieved. Working your way through micro-goals on a task list can be really motivating in terms of highlighting your daily successes.
5. Set a Start Time
It’s very easy, when you work from home, to let your start time drift. However, doing so can contribute to a lack of motivation and invites procrastination of a morning. Having a set start time means you place a clear expectation on yourself and gives you something to aim for each morning.
6. Set a Finish Time
It’s just as important to set a clear time when your working day will finish. Again, it gives you something to work towards. It also avoids a creeping sense, over the course of weeks and months of home-based working, that your workday has become endless!
7. Dress for Success
Many home-based workers stress the importance of wearing ‘work clothes’ to differentiate your working time from your leisure time. It’s easy for the two to blur into one when you work from home, so dressing up for work can help to create a distinction and motivate you in the process.
8. Have a Dedicated Workspace
In much the same vein, having a dedicated workspace can also be very motivating. It can help you achieve the right mindset for cracking on with the day’s workload, while also furthering that distinction between the working part of your home life and the non-working part.
9. Make Your Desk Appealing
One of the lovely things about working from home is you can personalise your desk to your heart’s content. Whether that means photographs, a huge vase of flowers, executive stress toys or anything else that takes your fancy, make your desk a place that you want to sit down at each and every morning.
10. Plan Your Time
Breaking your day up into segments can be really useful if you’re facing down a difficult project or a series of monotonous tasks. Facing hour-long blocks of something is a lot more palatable than having a whole day of it stretching out in front of you.
11. Break Down Tasks
Breaking tasks down into bite-sized chunks can also be a great way to maintain your motivation. Having to write a huge report or article may feel daunting but researching and outlining it on one day, then writing it on another makes the whole task more manageable, which will quickly boost your motivation.
12. Know Your Rhythms
You can make a huge difference to how motivated you feel by working at the times that suit you best. If you have the freedom to work when you choose, spend some time getting to know yourself. When do you feel energised and when don’t you? Build your working day around these times.
13. Find Your Motivation Killers
Are there certain tasks that cause you to procrastinate day in, day out? Try to identify these motivation-killing jobs and structure your day in a way that deals with them, either all in one go or one every hour, for example. Having a fixed time for them should motivate you to get them done.
14. Eat the Frog
One approach to dealing with motivating-sapping tasks is to do them as soon as you start your working day. The idea is that if you ‘eat the frog’ first thing in the morning, nothing else will feel that distasteful for the rest of the day. This can be super motivating!
15. Limit Social Media Use
Do you ever start scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, then realise that you’re still doing it and have achieved nothing 15 minutes later? Limit your social media use to before/after work and at lunchtime to stay focused on your work and motivated to get it done.
16. Limit Other Distractions
The same is true of other distractions. From news sites to mobile games, there’s a plethora of distractions out there. Try to avoid them, as they’ll make you less efficient at work – and feeling that you’re not getting things done fast enough is a sure-fire way to get your self-motivation to plummet.
17. Use a Motivational App
Have you tried out any motivational apps? When you’re working at home on your own, these can be surprisingly useful. Quick bursts of inspiration throughout the day can help you to keep your goals in mind and feel motivated to achieve them.
18. Use Productivity Software
Using the right tools can make you work more efficiently, which can be hugely motivating. Whether it’s a Kanban board, a messaging app or video conferencing software, having the right tools for the job will help keep you on track.
19. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Whether you tell yourself or share with others, make a point of recognising your accomplishments. You don’t have colleagues beside you to big you up when you do something well, so make sure you do it yourself. And don’t forget to keep rewarding yourself as well!
20. Develop Yourself
Keep your working life interesting by undertaking self-development activities while you work from home. That could mean listening to work-related podcasts, reading books or taking a course. Whatever your preferred option, keep learning to keep motivated.
21. Take Regular Breaks
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And a very un-motivated boy! Build regular breaks into your working day in order to stay focused and to keep your motivation levels up.
22. Go Out
Whether you walk, run, skip or hop, leave the house and get some fresh air. Doing so regularly can provide major benefits for your mental health, including how motivated you feel to do your work. Even if you’re pressed for time, find a way to spend some time outdoors as often as you can.
23. Reach Out
You are far from alone if you’re lacking the self-motivation needed to work from home successfully. Reach out to family, friends and colleagues to enjoy some much-needed human connection. Remembering that others are in the same boat and are there to support you is an excellent way to remotivate yourself.
Learning to calm your mind and build your focus through meditation can have a whole host of benefits. One of them is the kind of mental decluttering that can help you to keep motivated when working from home.
25. Be Kind to Yourself
Finally, don’t be mean to yourself if your motivation and your productivity levels dip. Such fluctuations are entirely normal. Blaming yourself is certainly not the way to stay motivated. Be understanding and kind to yourself and you’ll be back on track before you know it.
How to Stay Self-Motivated When Working from Home
Be sure to give each idea a little time to have an impact and remember to mix and match these home working tips to find the right combination for you.
We’re living through unusual times, so cut yourself some slack and try out some new ways to stay self-motivated. You’ll be glad you did.