Seven ways to self-motivate yourself to be productive while working from home
Struggle to stay on track when working for yourself? Here are seven ways to self-motivate yourself to be productive while working from home.
Working from home has its perks and its downsides. It’s great not having to rush to the office each day, spend half your waking hours in a small cubicle, and answer to a boss. You can even work in your pyjamas if you wish.
But working for yourself does have its drawbacks. That lack of manager and temptation to work from your bed can easily impact your productivity; with no one holding you accountable for your output, it can be hard to sustain your motivation.
So how can you ensure you stay motivated when you work at home? Here are seven tips to help you.
1) Create a routine
Self-discipline is the path to success. Whoever said that your level of success is determined by your level of discipline and perseverance was spot on. And when you live by this mantra, you’ll have no problem maintaining your productivity.
But how do you instil self-discipline? One way is to set a daily routine and stick it religiously. Imagine that you DO have a boss who expects you to be sat at work by a certain time and achieve a particular output.
So, depending on when you are the most productive, assign yourself specific hours in the day when you will work. If you are an early bird for example, try to wake up as early as you can. Set the alarm at the same time each day so that you get used to it.
Make sure your daily routine includes showering and dressing as if you were actually heading into an office (though obviously you don’t need to wear a suit when working from home…). And assign yourself set break times.
The more you treat working for yourself with the same professionalism as you would working for an employer, the easier you’ll find it to knuckle down and produce all the work you need within your working day – so you can down tools with a clear conscience and enjoy your evening when it’s over.
Once you get into a daily work routine you’ll find it much easier to switch into work mode, and resist any tempting procrastination habits.
2) Prepare your office space
Working in bed in your pyjamas may sound comfortable, but it’s hardly conducive to productivity. We associate wearing in pyjamas and being in bed with relaxation, so it’s harder to switch into a sharp-headed work mode.
You’ll also find it equally hard to switch off and relax in your bed at the end of the day if you’ve spent all day in it working. And sitting up in bed, propped up against soft pillows will also play havoc with your posture. As will working on sofas and beanbags.
Instead, create a home office space – even if it’s just a corner of a room – where you can work every day. And make it feel inviting by adding motivational quotes, a vision board, pictures or plants – whatever makes you feel happy and that it’s ‘your’ space.
3) Find peace and quiet
It’s difficult to remain productive if you’re trying to tune out noisy children or other distractions. So make sure your workspace is somewhere quiet and away from the main flow of your home.
If you don’t have anywhere quiet you can work from home, or just find it too distracting, consider looking for a coworking space. Not only do 74% of people say they’re more productive working from a coworking space, but it gives you access to a community of other freelancers, and valuable networking opportunities.
Or, in an emergency, you can take your laptop to a coffee shop with free WiFi and spend a couple of hours working from there.
4) Set yourself goals
Setting both short term and long term goals will help you to stay productive. So ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Is working home home enabling you to spend time with your children? Am you saving up for something special? Do you want to start your own business?
When you’ve identified your key motivation, write it out as a SMART goal, and keep it front of mind every day. You may even to choose to write it somewhere you can see when you work.
As well as a big, main goal, set yourself smaller, short term goals to work towards too. These can be weekly or monthly goals, or financial or other targets. This will help you celebrate the mini successes along the way to your big goal, and keep you motivated.
Personally, we set ourselves monthly goals to achieve, and break these down into weekly mini-goals that will help to keep us on track. Then we write daily to-do lists (like the Success List) to ensure we’re not tempted to stray from the tasks at hand. This system keeps us motivated, productive and ensures we continually meet the ambitious goals we set ourselves (or at least get close to them!).
5) Ask for help
If your motivation levels drop, it’s time to call for back up. As a freelancer you may not have colleagues or a manager to reach out to, but you do have, or can create, a support network of your own.
If you have a business partner, you can call them and ask for advice or a pep talk. If you don’t have a partner, do you have a professional group of friends or allies to call on? Even a virtual group via a Facebook group, like the free TLC Business Club?
You may even find a local network of freelancers, or a Jelly (if you don’t know what these are check them out here). If you work in a coworking space, you’ll naturally have a community of people around you to moan to or ask for advice.
It’s easy to let small problems blow out of proportion when we work alone and have no one to share them with. Bad feedback from a client or a late payment can send us spiralling into despair, and make us want to give up work altogether.
At times like this, you’ll need a support network to fall back on – both for practical advice and just to listen and understand. So if you don’t already have one, take steps now to start building one.
6) Take time off
When you are self-employed it can get hard to step off the hamster wheel. As the master of your own time, you have no one setting your hours or targets. And in these circumstances, it’s easy to keep working when the work is coming in – especially as you don’t get paid for time off.
But this is a fast track to burnout. Taking breaks isn’t just healthy, but it actually boosts productivity and creativity. When you get distance from your work and take a physical and mental rest, you’ll return revived, with more energy and a fresh perspective that leads to better ideas.
So make sure you take time off work – even if it’s just weekends. And if you can, establish a set time your work day ends, and stick to it. Close your laptop, stop checking your emails and enjoy your evening. You’ll return to work the next morning with more energy and enthusiasm when you do.
For similar reasons, you need to make sure you get out and meet people in the real world at some point.
When you work from home, your home can come to be like a very comfortable, self-imposed prison. You get up, and sit down to work. And at the end of the day, you switch off your laptop and move to the couch (that’s if you weren’t working from it already).
Not only is this lack of exercise and change of scenery unhealthy, but you can miss out on human relationships. Even if you live with a partner and children, you still need to interact with people in the wider world for good mental health.
So keep up any friendships and make sure you get out of your home at least once a day – even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
Nicole D Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at TrustMyPaper and a number of platforms for marketing specialists. In her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. She also runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.
Photo by Toa Heftiba