11 Killer Tips For Staying Focused And Motivated Working From Home
Thinking about making a shift and working from home? Have amazing dreams of how wonderful it will be to wear your pajamas on conference calls, laze in bed until 9am and slowly get into your day and be able to have coffee breaks whenever you want? Yeah okay, it sounds pretty cool. And it can be. But there are some things you need to know about working from home before you make the leap.
I don’t share this to scare you or to try and discourage you from working from home, I truly believe it is a wonderful thing to do. I love the flexibility, I love being autonomous and I love that I get to be my own boss. I derive particular enjoyment on those cold Monday mornings when it’s raining heavily and you just know the traffic tailbacks would be nothing short of atrocious, and that I don’t have to deal with it. I’ve already worked productive hours and many people are still waiting for the car in front to move forward.
Though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Here are a few things you should consider…
Firstly, it can be quite solitary…
My friend Steve has kindly suggested I maybe do a day or two a week in his rather funky and plush offices here in Sydney, and we get on really well. I think he’s genuinely worried about me. I think he’s worried about my daily lack of human contact. Though, the thought of all that morning traffic… Losing that first hour being in the car, and then again on the way home is a major turn off for me at this stage in my life.
Sure, I love a bit of banter just like the rest of us, though I am also easily distracted by conversations within earshot when I’m working, and find it hard to concentrate generally with all the distractions you find within an office environment.
So, yes working from home can be a little solitary, though I think I manage that quite well. I’m a bit of an ambivert. Half introvert, half extrovert.
The most conversation I have in a day will probably take place either via email, Skype and it’s most likely about work. I really enjoy the luxury of being able to factor in an hour each day to exercise. It’s either the gym, a coastal walk or a surf, depending on how the waves are looking. So, solitary yes. Am I lonely? No, not at all.
It Can Be Difficult To ‘Switch Off’
Without the need to go into the office to work, and with the motivation of working for myself, I could easily ‘work’ from 5am when I get up through to 10pm at night when I finally turn my computer off.
Because you’re always ‘at work’ it can be tempting to work all the time and switching off can be difficult. It’s definitely not something I’ve mastered or will master anytime soon, but it’s certainly something I’m aware of. I have gotten a lot better at recognising when my productivity or concentration is on the slide, and calling it quits for the day.
Setting ‘work hours’ has helped a lot. Planning out when I will be working and when I will be taking down time stops the guilty feelings creeping in when I’m not working.
You Need Time Management And Discipline
When you do get more coffee date and lunch invitations (and you will) it can be difficult to stick to your work hours, regardless of how much of a workaholic you are. Because in your mind you can still do the work early in the morning and late at night, so why not go out and catch up.
This can also be the case when you’re at home and realise that the floors need vacuuming, or that the kitchen cupboards really do need rearranging, or that you could add an extra dish to dinner tonight.
Time management and discipline are essential when working from home and different styles work for different people. It may take you a little time to work out your groove and be sure to find what does work for you rather than doing what you think you should be doing. That’s why we work from home – so we can be flexible and work the way we want. Once you work out which are your most productive hours. For me personally, it’s 5am until 1pm, then, I definitely need a change of scenery.
Routines Will Be Your Best Asset
Routine helps productivity so much, and it means that you don’t have to use valuable mental power thinking of what you need to do next because it’s all set for you.
Simple routine tasks can make such a difference. As I said, I get up at 5am every morning, make my coffee and sit down to work…the biggest plus for me has been spending just a couple of minutes the night before planning the next day’s efforts. That way, I’m not starting the day by procrastinating over what needs doing.
This allows me to start the day with a few ticks in boxes of what needs to be done. I don’t have a full day routine because so many things change throughout my day, but I do have little ‘mini’ routines that take around an hour or two that I can slot into any part of my day.
Again, it’s all about working out what works for you.
Get Out Of The House
You work there, you live there, you never leave there… well at least that’s how it feels some days. Don’t get too caught up in the whole ‘work from home’ title. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you actually have to do all of your work while you’re at home. Now I said I don’t want to commute to an office, though a favourite local cafe is very doable.
Get out of the house and go to your local cafe, use their free Wi-Fi, drink coffee and see your productivity go up! If cafes aren’t really your thing you might prefer to head down to the beach (if you’re lucky enough to live close by one) or even just to a nice big shady tree that you can sit under.
Getting outdoors and into the fresh air can really help with your productivity and healthy mindset, as well as decreasing your stress levels and getting a good dose of Vitamin D while you’re at it. While it seems like there are a lot of hurdles with working from home, every place you work has hurdles and struggles, this just means you need to learn how to deal with a new set.
It feels like every few minutes something pops up to make us procrastinate, distract us, and totally suck out our motivation. Even when you love what you do, part of working from home is grappling with distractions and keeping yourself motivated throughout the day. It can be so hard to stay focused and productive!
If you’re nodding along right now and thinking back to a particularly unproductive day you had in the last week working from home – I get you. Some days the struggle is so real. While I’m not perfect, I’ve created a few practices along the way that work well to help me get stuff done… without frantically trying to hit all my deadlines in 30 minutes late at night after procrastinating all day.
Tip 1: Keep A Super Short Daily “To Do” List
Now, let me be clear: I do have a rather large master to-do list that I’m constantly adding too. Though I’ve learnt that focusing on that huge to-do list day to day completely sucks my motivation and is immediately overwhelming. Trial and error has taught me that no matter how much I try to smash things out, or how many hours I work, or how much I prioritise work over everything else in my life, there’s still no way I’ll complete everything on my master list today/this week/or this month.
So, instead of focusing on my master to-do list day to day, I keep a super short daily to-do list, and it definitely helps keep my motivation levels high. If I know at the beginning of the day that I’ve only got two or three must do things that I really need to smash out, I am much more likely to get stuck straight in and get them done. A short to-do list, where I focus on my top priorities for the day, is much more motivating. I know I can tick both boxes, and move on.
Tip 2: Do Your Most Important Tasks First!
Tip 3: Remove Distractions
And by “remove distractions” I mean work offline as often as you can!
For me, this is super helpful if I’m coming up with blog post content, or working on or creating a sales page, I’m able to settle down to work, focus and, as a result, create faster and much more easily when I’m offline. This works especially well when there’s no option for me to be online.
Tip 4: Focus On One Thing Only
I say this because on the days where I try to multi-task, I just end up stressed, overwhelmed, and get to the end of the day with nothing of much substance done. But if I try to focus on one task at a time… at the end of the day I can point to something and say, “Yes, I did that,” and feel as if I’ve really pushed the needle forward.
Tip 5. Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you can swing it, they truly make a world of difference. I’m very sensitive to noise and can become easily distracted by even a dog barking outside, particularly if I’m writing. Good headphones help me keep my sanity and stay on track. These Bose Quiet Comfort 35 wireless headphones were just a fantastic investment. I bought these headphones about a year and half ago and I use them almost daily because I just love the sound quality and the comfort.
Tip 6: Minimise Potential Distractions
- Turn off all notifications.
- Put your phone on silent and resist the urge to check texts or missed calls.
- Don’t check any social media.
- Close out your email window so new messages can distract you.
Tip 7: Know When To Call It A Day
Don’t make it a habit of working until midnight every night. Unless you are truly on a roll and producing quality work deep into the night, call it quits and start again after you’ve had a chance to catch some shut-eye.
Keeping yourself motivated, productive and happy working from home can definitely take work. I hope my tips help you to achieve the success you deserve!
I really hope this helped. I’d love to know your favourite way to stay motivated working from home? Have I missed anything here though?
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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