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How to motivate yourself when you work from home

Working from home is great - in fact, it’s the dream working scenario for many people currently tackling the slog that is 9-5.

There are many pros and cons to working from home. There are more distractions - washing-machine-wise - but less work-related distractions - phone calls, office chit chat and just generally being asked to juggle a million tasks at once.

Working from home means freedom, it means you can work to your very own personalised schedule. Want to shower at 11:00 am? No problem. Want a coffee every 5 seconds without judgement? Go for it.

And while having ultimate freedom is the stuff dreams are made of - it can be challenging to motivate yourself. Procrastination can creep up on you and before you know it - yes your house looks great, but you’ve barely done any work, and it’s 6:00 pm.

What is it that causes us to lose the will to work?

Is it that no eyes are boring into your head from your manager? No immediate consequences?

A question asked by a Quora user ‘what are the best tricks to keep yourself motivated?’ - provoked some interesting answers from fellow users.

The two that personally resonated most with me were:

  • Exercise

  • Reward yourself

And another answer simply stated ‘there is no trick. love what you do. do what you love.’ And although that might be fundamentality true - it’s not the most helpful advice.

Even if you love what you do, there are some days you just cannot be bothered doing work - and with no one to tell you what to do - it’s so easy to sit and do nothing!

So what can exercise and rewarding yourself bring to your working day?

Exercise to release endorphins

I can completely back this particular Quora suggestion up. Since I started my freelancing journey for the second time, I’ve made a concerted effort to use my time wisely and exercise five days a week. The workout sessions are only 20-30 minutes long, but you feel great after them.

I feel more focused and alert than if I’d have just stayed in my jeans, a t-shirt slumped on the couch.

Healthline states that consistently exercising can help boost your energy. In fact, one study found that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue.

It’s easy to feel tired when you work from home, particularly if you’re self-employed and you’re not getting a steady stream of work.

Keep that motivation up and exercise!

Give yourself a treat

Another suggestion from Quora users was to reward yourself. Not by eating an entire bar of Cadbury’s chocolate but maybe allow yourself to indulge in a hobby - maybe 20 minutes of reading or make yourself a coffee.

Knowing you’re getting closer to your goal and your reward can help keep your mind focus on the task at hand. Have a bigger reward in place for when you complete large jobs.

According to PsychCentral, rewarding yourself is a proven method to boost motivation. Article author Gretchen Rubin enlightens us, ‘when we don’t get any treats, we begin to feel burned-out, depleted, and resentful.’

If you’re working from home alone, who else is going to give you a treat but you? Go ahead - treat yo self.

Rubin says, ‘we should all strive to have a big menu of healthy treats so that we can recharge our battery in a healthy way.’

So stick to the healthy treats - I treat myself to apple segments with peanut butter. Yes, I’m five years old.

More top tips to stay motivated when working from home

Since working from home, I’ve come across a handful of ways to keep myself motivated - so here they are…

Try out the Pomodoro Technique

If you haven’t come across this technique, Wikipedia says it best:

“The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.”

Basically, work for a solid 25 minutes have a break, work for another 25 minutes have a break. When I’ve discussed this strategy with others who struggle with motivating themselves always say the same thing:

‘Well, 25 minutes isn’t long enough.’

You don’t stop after 25 minutes - forever. It’s just so you can allow yourself a mini-break. Also, those 25 minutes are going to be more productive for you than the full day you’ve spent dipping in and out of tasks because you can’t concentrate.

A tea/coffee break, a loo break - a whatever break. A break from your work and your laptop screen is essential - you can re-focus, and you look forward to your next break.

According to Asian Efficiency’s ultimate guide to the Pomodoro Technique, just follow the below simple steps:

  1. Identify what the task at hand is.

  2. Set your timer to 25 minutes.

  3. Work on the task until the timer is over.

  4. Take a 5-minute break.

For every four Pomodoros take a longer break (15-20 minutes).

Imagine what you could do with your longer 20-minute break. That’s an episode of Friends, right there.

Write down your monetary goals EVERYWHERE

Sometimes, even knowing you need to make money, doesn’t necessarily motivate you to do work. If you’re self-employed, just like me, you know how important it is to get stuff done so you can actually pay bills.

Think about a realistic monetary goal you’d love to achieve in the next 3 or 6 months. Ok, now plaster it around your house. Mine are securely fixed to my fridge, my calendar and my bedroom mirror - to name a few.

Now, every time you visit a room in your house, you’re reminded of your financial goals. So get back to your laptop raring to go!

Don’t write too many stringent plans

If you’re updating your blog, you might have a calendar to populate, you might also have a social media calendar. If you’re a company with a marketing team - great, you’re super organised. If you’re self-employed and you’re the only one in the business - don’t bother.

Keeping schedules up-to-date is such an admin-heavy task. Don’t you feel you could be doing something more constructive with your time? I am a content marketer, so for me, a strategy is everything. But I don’t write and plan anything down. I know what my goals are for my own business, and I know how I’m going to get there eventually.

I think when I have a plan set out, and I fall a day behind, I feel a bit lost and almost hopeless.

Once you fall behind, it’s hard to catch up, so it becomes easy to just give up on that plan.

The only plan I have is a small to-do list that I write each day in my calendar. This way, I can stay focused and take each day as it comes.

Ready to try some motivation tips?? Go, go, go! You got this 💪

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yanwen li
yanwen li
Jun 28, 2023


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