Thursday, 28 May 2015

Finding motivation when you work from home

If you work in an office you will probably feel jealous of those who work from home. The ability to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home, the lack of a commute, which often means you can sleep in, being able to work in your pjs... All those can be true, but depending on your personality, working from home can often be lonely, and the flexibility can work against your productivity at times. People who work from home regularly know and appreciate the perks of it, but they will also admit that there are days when motivation is hard to come by.

During the past year I have transitioned from a job that required me to be in the office every day to one where I work from home one to two days a week. Past the honeymoon period of rolling out of bed at 8.30am to have breakfast and start work without having even brushed my hair, I've picked up a few tricks that keep me motivated and productive on my home days.

1. Have a dedicated office space
This isn't always as easy as it sounds. You may live in a small appartment/house and may not have the luxury of having a room that is solely your office. I have to work from my kitchen, because I need my spare bedroom to be a full time bedroom for when I have visitors. However, on days when I work from home, the corner where I work is strictly a workspace. The tablecloth comes off, I extend the table so I have room for my laptop, phone, notebooks and documents. I also make sure there is no washing up lingering in the sink and that the work surfaces are clear and clean. At the end of the day, I pack everything up and revert it back to kitchen mode.

2. Get ready as if you were going to the office
Well, maybe not literally, but as tempting as it is to roll out of bed and sit at your desk in your pyjamas, make an effort so that you have a transition from home to work mode. On days when I work from home I don't wear a spec of make up and I don't bother with contact lenses, but I still get up at a similar time, have a shower and brush my hair. I normally throw on a comfy jumper, leggings and a pair of trainers. It may sound stupid, but the shoes make a huge difference to my mindset, as I would never go to work barefoot or in my slippers.

3. Get moving in the morning
If it is outside of your home, even better. Go for a brisk walk or quick run around the block, go for a swim, do some yoga, pop to the gym for a quick workout. It can be really quick, but getting out of the house and back again will get you going. I live near a beautiful park, so now that the weather is good I try and have a quick walk during my lunch break as well.

4. Have fixed break times
When I was at university I used to get up a million times to make a coffee, then get a glass of juice, then a biscuit ... You get the idea. When I'm in the office I normally get up from my desk to make some tea at 11am, have lunch at 12.30 and then make another drink at 3ish. I try to stick to this when I'm at home. Trying to get as much done as possible til the next break is a great incentive for me.

5. Stay connected. Schedule phone calls for days when you're at home
Working from home can feel lonely sometimes but it also gives you more peace and privacy than an open plan office to have work phone conversations. If you need to speak to a colleague or an external contact and it's not something urgent, try and make the most of being at home to schedule the calls on those days.

6. Catch up with all your admin and small jobs
Knowing nobody is going to interurpt you is great when you have to do fidly jobs like matching your expenses with receipts. Also, a few quick jobs that you can cross off your to do list is a good motivation booster.

7. Do your thinking, big planning
I use my days at home for a mixture of small quick tasks and some bigger tasks like planning a project, doing some research or just think about a new approach to solve a problem. I have a notebook with some medium to long term goals and I try to make progress with them when I am working from home.

8. Don't feel guilty
Sometimes people can think that just because you work from home all you do is sit around and watch Netflix. It's true that working from home gives you more flexibility - you can put that load of washing in or schedule the boiler service, but you shouldn't feel guilty about it. Yes, you're lucky, but that should make you feel good. I hate seeing that so many people seem to boast about being stressed and not having time for lunch or to do their work properly because they are so busy. That is nothing to be proud about! If you are lucky enough to work from home sometimes, make the most of it and use it to make the quality of your work better.

Inma x

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