Will Jacobs
June 17, 2020

Staying Motivated While Working From Home

Motivation is critical to maintaining performance. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and readies you to seize the day. It’s what makes you want to work. It drives you to succeed. And this energy is also the boon to booming start-ups. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, many solopreneurs and newly flourishing small enterprises have been dealt enormous challenges. Faced with having to cope with new pressures and uncertainties, ranging from an increase in workload to less customer interaction, the possibilities of losses or a slowdown in growth, it can be difficult to stay motivated and energised.

So, what can you do to stay motivated while working from home? Here are eight ways you can manage yourself more effectively.

1- Bring Structure To Your Day

Having a clear schedule is extremely important to make working from homework. Lacking one makes it easier to forget important tasks, so projects run the risk of becoming delayed. Missing important deadlines or working late into the night playing catch up can contribute to increased stress and anxiety. It can also lead to the development of less healthy working habits. These can create a domino effect concerning your performance. For instance, it can become difficult to switch off and balance work and life commitments, and personal productivity can suffer.

Committing to a schedule, however, keeps you focused and helps to prevent you from getting distracted. This ensures that key business activities do not get missed.

Here are some of the ways you can stay on track and on time:

  • Calendaring important events
  • Setting clear times for work and availability
  • Creating checklists
  • Using online project management boards

 2- Build Mental Barriers

Building the line between work and life is even more important when working from home. The risk that your professional life will become entangled with your personal life is much higher when your working day is not defined by the daily commute. It’s a sensitive balance. If not managed carefully, it can lead to the breakdown of personal and work relationships and mental and physical exhaustion. Either of these will inevitably leave you feeling demotivated and less able to cope.

Creating a workspace can help remarkably here. This means setting a workspace (and a time for work) that’s completely separate from your personal commitments. Your workspace doesn’t have to be ultra-sophisticated like a study. It should simply be a space that is free from potential interruptions. You might consider keeping your bedroom off-limits or declaring the living room a no-noise zone during set hours. Establishing a formal workplace with rules and mini regulations can really help you get into a productive frame of mind and make following your schedule much easier.

You may also want to read: The Challenges Of Working and Learning From Home

3- Get Creative With Your Workspace

People often perform better when working in a creative space. One big advantage that people who work from home enjoy is that they can create an environment that’s well suited to them. You might like to consider adding a personal touch to your workspace and taking the time to make it your own in a way that maximises focus and minimises distractions. For instance, you could introduce some foliage to your workspace. Potted plants – other than being pretty to look at – have been said to correlate positively with mental wellbeing by reducing anxiety and dejection. Small quality-of-life changes – from working in a well-lit area to greenery – can have cumulative benefits concerning your work experience.

4- Switch Off

As a small business, the onus is on you to get things done. Your responsibilities include:

  • Hitting deadlines
  • Replying in a timely way to client inquiries
  • Overseeing smooth operations

All of these can make switching off very difficult.

It becomes hard to escape work-related phone calls, emails, instant messaging, and even unplanned online meetings outside of your ideal work hours. Consequently, it’s can be very easy to find yourself overworking. And that can lead to the feeling of being burnt out.

The resulting physical and mental exhaustion will be reflected not only in the quality of your work but also in the deterioration of your communication and work relationships.

It’s vital to set a time where the working day ends and to be strict about it. This way, you can mentally and physically close the door on your work, for the time being. This will help you to recover your energy and ready yourself to focus on the tasks at hand tomorrow. You must know that however much work you do today, there will ALWAYS be more tomorrow!

This means ignoring work-related notifications, turning off the work laptop, and leaving those inquiries and opportunities for another day.

You may also want to read: How to Effectively Work From Home During and After COVID-19

5- Make Time For Regular Breaks

Working for extended periods of time can contribute to mental fatigue, which is detrimental to staying productive and motivated. Taking breaks is an excellent way to prevent this. It gives your body and mind much needed time to relax and recuperate.

Here are a few of the things to consider to re-energise yourself at various points throughout the day:

  • Take 10 minutes away from your designated work area
  • Go for a walk around the block
  • Check in with friends or family
  • Read something non-work related
  • Listen to a favourite song
  • If you’re a catnapper, close your eyes for a few minutes
  • If you meditate, definitely take a few minutes to do that

You get the picture.

 6- Don’t Overlook Exercise

Working from home can offer you tremendous scope for flexibility. This gives you an excellent opportunity to add in much-needed exercise to your daily schedule. Physical activity is not just good for your body – it goes hand in hand with productivity and engagement. It boosts your cognitive abilities, reduces stress, and contributes to both your alertness and energy levels.

You don’t need a dedicated gym or even access to a local park to implement exercise as part of your regime. YouTube is home to thousands of exercise videos. These range from HIIT to Yoga to Pilates to cardio to bodyweight training and much more. Alternatively, simply going for a walk or a run around town are great ways to physically and mentally reset and to come back to work more eager and energetic than before.

You may also want to read: 10 Tips for Work At Home Success

 7- Focus On Your Professional Development

When working from home, it’s easy to feel like you’ve plateaued sometimes in terms of your professional growth. This can lead to ‘imposter syndrome’ – the belief that you aren’t equipped with the right skills or knowhow to tackle your work. This can massively impact your motivation and performance. However, brushing up on your skills through learning and development opportunities can be of huge benefit.

Whether it’s by taking an extensive online course or by reading specialist books and journals, there are many things you can do to hone your skills. By learning and applying new knowledge and theory, you can begin to assess business problems from different angles and implement solutions in new and exciting ways. It also provides a break from the everyday responsibilities on your to-do list and can reignite your enthusiasm in your work.

8- Take Advantage Of The Support Available

The media’s relentless barrage of sensationalist material has made many anxious about the future. You may have worries, from the health of your loved ones to the state of the economy in a post-coronavirus world. These anxieties can make it difficult to motivate yourself to seek out new business or concentrate on the work you have in hand.

If you find yourself worried or stressed, don’t ignore it. There are many supportive and accessible organisations, from the MIND mental health charity to NHS England, giving very helpful advice. Each has dedicated pages to supporting those working from home, including:

  • Guidance on mental flexibility
  • Effective stress management
  • Staying in touch
  • Building mental resilience

In Closing

Motivation is crucial to performance and success. But it’s so easy to lose it – especially in the context of current events. However, by thinking about how to structure your working day, and creating opportunities to unwind and refocus, you can really improve your level of drive and enthusiasm, boosting your productivity as a result.


Will Jacobs is a graduate of the London School of Economics and heads the social media and authors content at Cezanne HR, a leading supplier of modern Cloud HR and payroll software. You can connect with Will on LinkedIn here or follow/tweet him @WillJacobsCZ

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