As each positive coronavirus update gives you a bit of hope and motivation to continue working from home—to put your best face forward on video calls and your best foot forward in at-home workouts—you might still be needing an extra boost in the day. Work, family, pets, meetings, health, and your children’s learning compete for space in your calendar. It’s hard to balance it all, even in sweatpants. Wondering how to be productive working from home? These six strategies will help you be effective and motivated in your 9-5 from home or wherever you’re setting up shop.
How to Get Motivated Working from Home
If you’re wondering how to motivate yourself and keep up with daily demands, this round-up of motivational quotes is a great start. As for practical habits you can build into your everyday routine, these strategies will motivate you and help whip your work-from-home habits into shape. Bonus tip: apply these habits to fitness motivation throughout the week for even more forward momentum.
1. Define Your WFH Workspace
You’ve heard it said that having a designated work-from-home space is important to success, not to mention the right tools for your work. Why does an actual workspace matter for WFH jobs? To start, it creates boundaries. Separating your work from personal responsibilities gives you the mental and physical distance to prioritize what’s in front of you: your work. Setting up your home office materials—even just a computer, tabletop, and pencil holder—away from the sink full of dirty dishes or pile of laundry tells yourself, and others, that you are in work mode.
Your work-from-home setup might have been makeshift at the start of quarantine, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Consider adding home office details that help you feel more focused. Sticky notes for jotting down quick thoughts, a computer mouse, custom mouse pad, and monthly planners are standard tools in an office building that you can bring into your home office.
2. Establish a Focus Routine
Once you’ve created your workspace and can settle into the tasks of the day, help your body and mind transition into work. Find motivation through a work routine. Do you typically have a cup of coffee in the office as you read through your inbox? Adopt that practice working from home. Do you get plugged into work by slipping on headphones and listening to music? Queue up a playlist and do the same in your home office setting. Hitting play on focus at the start of your work-from-home day will help you jump into emails and meetings feeling focused and ready to tackle priorities. File this technique under “how to be productive working from home.”
3. Prioritize Your To-Do List
Thinking about the dozens (hundreds?) of tasks and projects on your to-do list for the week can feel overwhelming, even paralyzing. Instead, limit your list to a few must-to-dos to stay motivated. Rest assured that, if nothing else, you’ll accomplish the items you prioritized on your notepad. Major report that’s due by the end of the week? Done. Keeping your kids alive? Check. Minor maintenance that doesn’t need your attention right now? You can take care of that next time. Focus on your most pressing priorities and don’t allow minor issues to distract you from accomplishing them.
Prioritizing a significant project before other, less demanding tasks will free you up to move onto other deadlines at the top of your list. Keep a physical checklist on your clipboard at the start of your week as a reminder that no matter what, you will meet those deadlines by the end. You’ll feel far more motivated knowing that you’ll have several priorities completed rather than a list of non-essential tasks simply moving along.
4. Set WFH Goals
Setting goals, both in your personal and professional life, can help keep your motivation high. Temporarily working from home doesn’t mean temporarily setting aside goals. Shift your mindset to focus on the goals that are attainable right now, in your specific circumstances. Write your goal down and keep it somewhere you will see it every day. Compose your goal on a custom water bottle or personalized pint glass, either symbolically or literally, and keep motivation high with each sip throughout the day. Or simply take note of your goals on a sticky note attached to your laptop. As you sift through emails and attack your daily projects, remember to take a step toward your goal each day.
5. Put Systems into Place
While motivating yourself through goal setting is a powerful tool, setting up systems in your WFH lifestyle can revamp your motivation in a different way. In contrast to goals, wanting to achieve X on a specific timeline, systems encourage you to practice a positive change each day through systematic behavior. Take a look at those around you who inspire and motivate you to do great work. Maybe they are managers or peers or mentors whose careers you admire. What habits do successful people have?
Whether it’s setting your alarm a bit earlier to fit in exercise before an early-morning meeting or squeezing an actual lunch break into your calendar, emulate the daily habits you admire and put systems into place to practice them every day. Soon enough, you’ll achieve the goals you set forth simply by enacting a positive system or two into your daily routine.
6. Go for a Winning Streak
Unleash your competitive side with this motivational strategy: start a positive habit at work and do it every single day. Regardless of what else comes your way working from home, imagine committing to practicing the same productive behavior every day, without fail. Track your progress on a desk calendar and don’t break the streak. You’ll be surprised how many days in a row you can keep up your productivity once you’ve made the decision to commit without fail. That little mark on the calendar saying you’ve completed it for the day is a wonderful little reward. Plus, you won’t want to break the streak after you’ve gone two weeks, three weeks, a month, two months into keeping up a strong habit.
If your work-from-home day typically starts with stress, for instance, think of ways you can prepare for the busy rush of morning as you end work the day before. Try finishing the day by clearing out your inbox and organizing your notes or agenda for the next day. Repeat the practice every day and watch it transform into a habit that you won’t want to break.
Working from home presents a unique set of challenges, but it can go smoothly once you find your routine and motivation. Try out some of these strategies and mix in a few of your own to find the right WFH lifestyle for you. For more inspiration on making your work-from-home space personalized and productivity-friendly, check out these details that add a spark of creativity to any home office.