Recently, a change in my job has afforded me the opportunity to work from home. In all honesty, it’s my dream come true. I’m a HUGE homebody and I rely heavily on my creature comforts (read: I never want to get out of my pajamas or do my hair). I love being able to bop back and forth between answering emails and throwing in a load of laundry. There’s seriously nothing more satisfying to me than alternating between writing and creating content and cooking dinner. I thrive on being busy, so getting to tackle multiple areas of my life at once is exciting to me.
There are some days, however, when the work is slow. As my to-do list shrinks, so, too, does my motivation. I’m well aware that there are things I COULD be doing, but nothing seems pressing or urgent, so instead, I don’t do much of anything. Slow days affect my mood, my self esteem, and ultimately, my motivation. It’s kind of a soul-sucking feeling. I’ve developed five key ways to increase my motivation and my productivity while working from home.
As most of you know, I’m a writer and assistant. In my downtime, I run my own blog. Anyone grinding away at entrepreneurial endeavors knows that self-motivation is key, and any lull can severely affect your business. Whether you’re employed externally working from home or pursuing self-employment, here are some necessary tricks to staying motivated at all times:
1. Create a Routine
This is key. If you work a 9am-5pm office job, chances are, you’re meal prepping, you’re setting you alarm, you’re waking up in time to shower and go to the gym, etc. 9am-5pm’ers have a pre-determined schedule. You are just as much of a professional working from home. Your time needs to be carefully allotted, lest it go to waste. Set your alarm. Get up and go to the gym. Then carve out time for emails, phone calls, errands – whatever it is you normally do. Set a routine, and stick to it. Overly flexible schedules lead to indecision, lackluster energy levels, and all around disorganization.
2. Set Daily and Weekly Goals
Before I go to bed each night, I write down a list of things I want to accomplish the next day. If I go to bed with goals in mind, I wake up with a purpose. Nothing slows me down like waking up and meandering through my morning. If I don’t start the day on a mission, chances are, I won’t end it having tackled anything. Daily goals should be small: it might be to write one new blog post or send five emails or set a networking meeting with someone in your field. Weekly goals should be more encompassing. They should take a little longer to accomplish. For me, weekly goals usually tend to be “work out four times,” or “post three new blog posts,” or “finish next round of revisions” on my latest script. Small goals might not seem worthwhile, but at the end of the week, you’ll look back at everything you tackled and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Working from home can be isolating, and despite being a complete and total introvert, I actually believe that we were made for community. Find a group with which to involve yourself. This might mean co-working with a friend – you can hold each other accountable for the goals you set each day/week! It could mean looking for engagement groups in your field on social media and joining some meet-ups. Maybe it’s even reaching out to someone cold and letting them know you admire their work and finding out if they’re interested in joining forces. Seek out synergistic opportunities and people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Don’t sink into the hole that is your couch (trust me – I KNOW the temptation).
4. Leave the House
This one sounds basic, but I promise it’s not. When you work from home, it’s so easy for your house to become your life. After all – it’s where all the good snacks are! But get out of your house once a day. Go to Target (who doesn’t love Target?). Walk to the grocery store. Go get your nails done. Ride a bike. Have lunch with a friend. Get out of your house. Fresh air does wonders for your mood. Secondly, I truly believe that if we are going to make positive contributions to the world around us, we have to understand the world first. Isolating yourself only detaches you from understanding the needs of others – and if you don’t understand them, how can you serve them?
5. Get Physical Activity
I was in such a bad mood on Friday. It was one of those days where I kept hitting walls. I would take one step forward and three steps backwards. Everything was irritating me. One of my “to-do” list items was to work out. I’m trying really hard not to backtrack on the progress I made for the wedding. After thirty-five minutes on the elliptical, I felt like a new person. And this is coming from someone who DOES NOT like exercising. I do not claim to be someone who finds their joy and comfort in running a mile or bench-pressing my new PR. My joy and comfort is found at the bottom of a bowl of pasta, and I’m fine with that. But physical activity was like hitting refresh on my brain and my mood. It rejuvenated and energized me and gave me a new sense of purpose. I was ready to tackle new projects.
How do you stay motivated while you work from home? Would love to hear!