Career advice

Seven ways to keep motivated when working from home

You’re the envy of many office dwellers; those who sit in morning traffic, counting down the miles to work each day, or stand hunched and bleary-eyed in the aisles of trains and tubes; those whose shirts stick to the backs of their swivel chairs in the summer or long for a woolly jumper instead of their suit in the winter.*
But you know that working from home doesn’t equal an easy, comfortable life. It’s not all ‘work done by lunch, time now for fun with family and friends’. There could be distractions, loneliness and lack of routine, not to mention the invasion of your personal space with papers, memos and reports. To work from home and be efficient you need to be very strict with yourself and you're responsible for rewarding your own successes.

Encourage yourself

If you’re feeling de-motivated and not working to your optimum level, try taking on board these seven steps to successfully work from home:
1. Consider your setting – if you have a spare room or study to use as an office space, keep anything work related in there, setting yourself up on the couch tends to blur the line between home and work. Make sure the space is well lit and if outside temperatures allow, open the windows and let fresh air in throughout your working day.
2. Act as though you’re going to work – get out of bed in the morning when you wake up, lying in will make you feel groggy. Get dressed and have a coffee before starting; staying in your pyjamas won’t get you geared up for work.
3. Schedules and lists – if you know your day hour-by-hour you’re more likely to stay focused and achieve your self-recommended deadlines. If you need to, make a more specific list of everything that needs doing and tick jobs off when you’ve completed them.
4. Divide your work – if a project is big or overwhelming, tackle it in small, manageable chunks. It may take a bit of extra planning but it should avoid you feeling ‘stuck’.
5. Check in with colleagues – remind yourself that you are at work, even if you’re not at the office. Phoning to update your boss or colleagues will also make you feel more connected with what’s going on in the business.
6. Give yourself breaks – make sure you give yourself time for lunch, for the benefit of your health and your work. Try and stay away from your computer at this time as well, go for a walk or run an errand, you should be refreshed when you come back to your desk.
7. Rewards – you may be motivated simply by knowing your line manager is expecting your work at the set deadline, but for those who don’t work under anyone you should try and come up with ways of rewarding yourself at the end of each task or day.
Failing to motivate yourself can lead to poor quality of work which can jeopardise your job. If you’ve tried these suggestions and they haven’t worked for you, why not try taking your laptop to a cafe with wi-fi for an hour or two some mornings. You should also consider talking to your line manager about going back to work in the office; working from home isn’t ideal for everyone.
*Of course, not all office workers wish they worked from home!
Michael Page offers advice on many aspects of work life. Are you thinking of making your next career move? Or do you need advice on growing your career? Have a look at some of our other articles to see if we can help.