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How to keep motivated when working from home
13 April 2016
Working from home can be an attractive option for employees who are sick of pulling on their work clothes, battling the daily commute and sitting in the office all day. But employees who regularly work from home can quickly find out that it's not always what you hoped.
There are often distractions, loneliness and a general lack of routine, not to mention the invasion of your personal space with work papers, memos and reports. To work from home and be efficient you must be disciplined in order to remain productive.
If you’re feeling unmotivated and worry you’re not working at your optimum level, try these seven steps to work more effectively at home:
1. Act as though you’re going to work
Get out of bed in the morning when you wake up as lying in will make you feel unfocused and drowsy. Get dressed and have breakfast before beginning your work day; staying in your pyjamas won’t get you in the right mind set.
2. Consider your setting
If you have a spare room or study to use as an office space, keep anything work related in there. Setting yourself up on the couch will blur the line between home and work. Make sure the space is well lit and - when weather permits - open the windows and let fresh air in.
Some home office spaces can be subject to similar OH&S rules as regular offices, so check with HR to ensure that your work space complies with any requirements.
3. Schedules and lists
Make sure you and your manager are clear about what you need to complete by when. That way you’re more likely to stay focused and meet your deadlines. If you need to, make a more specific list of everything that needs doing and tick jobs off when you’ve completed them. Little wins mean big satisfaction, especially when you don't have colleagues around to recognise your accomplishments.
4. Divide your work
If a project is big or seems too enormous to undertake all at once, tackle it in small, manageable chunks. It may take a bit of extra planning but it will avoid you feeling overwhelmed. Remember, all houses are built brick by brick.
5. Check in with colleagues
Remind yourself that you are at work, even if you’re not at the office. Phoning to update your boss or colleagues will also keep you connected with what’s going on in the office. Many workers also find it helpful to have regular 'face time', whether by conducting meetings over Skype or attending the office for a monthly in-person meeting.
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6. Give yourself breaks
Take time out for lunch, for the benefit of your health and your work. Stay away from your computer at lunchtime as well, go for a walk or run an errand. This will help you feel refreshed and ready to knuckle down when you come back to your desk.
7. Reward yourself
You may be motivated simply by knowing your manager is expecting your work at a certain time, but if you work for yourself or don’t have to report in regularly to anyone you should try and come up with ways of rewarding yourself at the end of each task or day.
Failing to motivate yourself can mean poor quality output, which can jeopardise your job. If you’ve tried these suggestions and they haven’t worked for you, why not try taking your laptop to a cafe with Wi-Fi for an hour or two some mornings. You should also consider talking to your line manager about going back to work in the office; working from home isn’t ideal for everyone.
Working from home is just one way to break out of the standard 9 to 5 office routine. Here are more alternative styles of working you may not have considered yet (but should!)
Here are some tips workers can use to improve their productivity and motivation when working from home:
- Get dressed for the day and try to have a dedicated working space free from distractions
- Ensure you and your manager are clear on what your expected output is and any relevant deadlines to avoid confusion
- Check in regularly with managers and colleagues, and try to have some face time in the office to maintain relationships and presence
- Reward yourself to help maintain motivation