Staying motivated at work can be hard but for remote employees it can be downright impossible.
Unlike an office environment, at home there are a ton of temptations and distractions that can easily sap your productivity and your career trajectory.
“Working from home is essentially an independent way of working. Even if you have managers and coworkers to be accountable to, you’re still responsible for motivating yourself,” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. “And because our houses have all sorts of distractions (I’ll just throw in one load of laundry, or do these dishes quickly), it can be hard to stay motivated.”
But you don’t have to let it hurt your career. There are ways to keep your motivation and productivity high. Here’s how.
Have a dedicated office space
Some of the most productive remote workers are the ones that have a dedicated office space in their home that they go to each morning. The ones that tend to easily lose motivation are the workers that open their laptop, plop down on the couch and think they can work with life going on around them. “You have to have an organized space in your home so that you can work in that space with limited distractions,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half International.
Hand in hand with having a dedicated office is setting boundaries for when family members can enter the office. If you want to keep your office void of distractions close your door during work hours, get rid of any toys or entertainment that will lure the kids or roommates and establish rules of engagement during work hours,
Be organized and layout your work week
Organization is imperative in any job, but for remote workers it is a necessity, especially because you won’t have a boss breathing down your neck making sure your work is getting done. According to Sara Caputo, founder and principal of RADIANT, a professional organizing and productivity consulting company, make sure you layout the work you plan to tackle during the week and update that list daily. “At the end of the week, I like the Friday 45, which is taking 45 minutes and planning ahead for next week so you can more easily leave work alone through the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday, ” says Caputo.
Create a regular routine
Humans are creatures of habit, which is why establishing a routine and sticking to it when you work at home is a great way to keep your motivation and productivity on overdrive. “We’ve found that people who establish a routine and establish check lists are very productive and motivated,” says McDonald. That means getting up at the same time during the work week as if you were going to an office, having predetermined break times and blocking off times to get up from your desk every now and then. For some people staying in their PJs all day works for them while others will take a shower and get dressed before heading to their home office. Either is fine as long as it’s part of the established routine.
Find your secret sauce
Perhaps it’s a particular song, a comfy office setting or time of day, either way Sutton Fell says you want to figure out what gets you in a work groove and run with it. For some people it could also mean changing the scenery every once awhile. It’s no accident that coffee shops like Starbucks are filled with people typing away on their computers during office hours. “There are so many ways to get and stay motivated, but you are responsible for motivating yourself as a telecommuter,” say Sutton Fell.
Get in the right mindset for work
Life happens, but chances are you are going to hear all about it as it’s happening when you work from home. A great way to prevent life’s distractions is to have weekly meetings with your partner to prevent the personal portions of life from impacting productivity during work hours, says Caputo. Cover all the home issues during those meetings so you won’t be interrupted with questions during work hours, she says.
Working at home is hard so it’s a good idea to cut yourself some slack as you figure it out. Nothing can be more demoralizing and thus productivity sapping then beating yourself up because you didn’t cross off everything on your checklist or you ended up working all weekend because you couldn’t get motivated. “Remember it takes more discipline to work at home than it does working in an office,” says McDonald. “It’s up to you to know what your productivity triggers are and be patient with yourself as adjust to what’s happening.”