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Irma Hunkeler

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8 ways to stay motivated when working from home


When the boss is away (and, if you work from home, this is pretty much all the time) the temptation to slack off can be almost impossible to resist. Plenty of people dream of remote work, but the lack of structure requires a considerable amount of self-discipline. Here are some ways you can maximise your potential when the lines between the professional and personal space are blurred.

Make your workspace work

A smart, inspiring workstation is the first step to getting your head in the work game. A clutter-free workspace is essential, so carry out a quick spring clean of your office or desk before settling down to work. This way, you’ll avoid getting distracted by piles of unnecessary papers. Tempting though it may be, working from your bed or the sofa should be an absolute no-no; sit up straight and keep things around you neat and orderly. Afterall, a clear head leads to maximum productivity.

Dress for the occasion

One of the main perks of working from home is that you can leave your suit hanging in the wardrobe. However, although there’s no need to go to quite the same lengths with your attire that you would in a professional setting, that’s no excuse to slob around in pyjamas without bothering to shower or brush your teeth. Dressing in a professional manner puts us in a different mental state, making us feel more connected to our work. As a consequence, we are much more likely to remain focused on the task at hand.

Move yourself

One of the downsides of working from home is missing out on a brisk morning stroll as you make your way to work. Even just ten minutes to the train station gets the blood pumping, which is vital for your brain to function at its best. You may have the privilege of skipping the dreaded commute when you work from home, but a pre-work gym session (or a march around the block with the dog) will pep you up and mean you’re raring to go once your fingers hit the keys.

Set clear goals

It can be easy to lose focus, and equally easy to forget how far you’ve come. A written record of what you need to accomplish and realistic time-frames for each task will help you keep on track and make sure that you hit your deadlines. Take time on a Monday to write a list of targets to achieve each week. Make the list look good and put it somewhere visible (a colourful post-it or a whiteboard with bullet points could both do the trick.)

Stick to a schedule

The initial joy of working out of sight from your boss can quickly fade. Suddenly it’s 4 pm and all you’ve done so far is stare at Game of Thrones memes. Now is the moment to create a timetable and stick to it. The habit can be hard to form, but once it’s done it will actually afford you more freedom. Starting early is also essential. Though a lie-in feels like working from home’s top perk, catch that worm by setting your alarm and getting the lion’s share of work complete before lunch. Afterall, studies have shown that most of us hit peak productivity in the morning.    

Silence the pings

Anyone who thinks they can resist the beeps and buzzes of their smartphone is lying to themselves. The moment the table vibrates, the instant the screen lights up, your mind is dragged away from the task at hand and into the swirling vortex of Instagram stories or off onto some irresistible (but ultimately irrelevant) thought pattern. Switch off notifications, turn your phone on silent (or even better, switch it off) and put it out of sight and out of temptation’s way. If you have to leave the room every time you want to check the time, you’ll be less likely to mindlessly fall down a Facebook rabbit hole.

Get some eye-contact

Working from home can be a lonely experience. Though you’re avoiding office politics, mindless gossip and banal water cooler chat, you’re also missing out on a vital connection to the human race. If you’re under pressure with an imminent deadline, you may miss having colleagues around to lighten the mood. To avoid becoming a hermit, make plans to meet friends on their lunch break, take your laptop to a coffee shop or invite a fellow remote worker over for some lovely, motivating, mutual silence.

Treat yourself

We all need something to look forward to. Rather than starting the day with a Netflix binge and rounding off with a 9 pm typing frenzy, add to your weekly targets the name of a film you’ll watch, a feast you’ll cook or a friend you’ll meet once you’ve reached your goals. It sounds simple, but a reward is a truly effective way to stay motivated.


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