Nine Ways to Stay Motivated When Working From Home

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I haven’t had any co-workers in over six months now.  Well, at least none that I see or hear from in-person!  Like many of you, I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home (or really anywhere with internet access), while the virus rears its ugly head.  Many corporate jobs afford this flexibility in this day and age of constant connectivity.  Some entire careers are based from home, like freelancers and digital creatives – others may choose to work from home for set days each week, which is what I was doing pre-pandemic, to help alleviate the burden of domestic life.  

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Being in the office provides your day with structure.  Coworkers provide you with social interaction.  A physically present manager gives you accountability.  So how in the world is anyone supposed to stay motivated in the absence of these things?!  

Over the past six months, we’ve had to adapt to become productive in places where we normally do the opposite, converting parts of our homes into home offices.  The lack of workplace structures makes it hard to stay motivated.  I’ve certainly had periods where I’ve struggled with this.  To combat this, I’ve managed to force myself to be accountable not only to my colleagues but most importantly, to myself.  And given this will be the status quo for the foreseeable future, here are the things I’m doing to ensure I keep my work from home motivation going strong.

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#1 – Put on actual clothes

It’s so tempting to roll out of bed and wear the comfiest fleece set you own, especially when you don’t have to engage in any proper human contact.  But clothing carries a lot of symbolic meanings and getting dressed for a day of work is one of the ways to keep you motivated and productive.  It’s about striking a balance between comfort and function.  I’ve got a whole series of posts on working from home style here.

#2 – Create a list of things to do for the day

The first thing I do when I’m sitting at my desk is to prepare a comprehensive to-do list.  As I go through my emails in the morning, I’ll add to my list and will categorise the tasks I need to complete in accordance with the traffic light system (red: urgent and time sensitive, yellow: ongoing day-to-day tasks; green: not time sensitive).  It’s so rewarding to check things off your list throughout the day.

#3 – Make a schedule

Depending on your job, creating a schedule can be hugely beneficial to your productivity.  On the days when I’m able to do this, I’ll roughly plan my day out.  These days, with the seemingly endless video calls, I’ve found it hugely beneficial to work in shorter blocks and to take regular breaks, so as to not get too fatigued and to keep things interesting. 

#4 – Don’t work where you sleep

Obviously this depends on your living arrangements but if your work is stressful, you don’t want to be stressing out in a place where you try to relax and fall asleep at night.  We live in a small terrace and while there is space in our master bedroom for a desk, I’ve set myself up in the living room just to keep things separate.

#5 – Earn rewards

If you’re results driven, setting up a personal rewards system can be really effective.  Do two solid hours of work and then watch an episode of something.  Get through those emails and then play some Mario Kart (we’re Nintendo folks here!).  Turning those distractions into micro-rewards can help to make you feel accomplished (and also provide you with some fun respite!). 

everlane cashmere square turtleneck in blog post about work from home motivation

Everlane knit in sage* (see my review here), H&M skirt (sold out, similar here (AU/NZ) and here), Celine bag (see my review here and check out this affordable dupe here), Tony Bianco mules (sold out, similar here, shop the real deal here), Ray Ban sunglasses

#6 – Avoid your Workplace Instant Messenger

On the topic of distractions, stay off Cisco Jabber, or Skype Chat, or whatever workplace IM program your company uses.  That little “bing!” noise that rings out and the flashing window in your taskbar instantly snaps you out of your train of thought and serves as a constant distraction when you’re trying to finish something off.  

#7 – Go outside

I’m a bit of a homebody and while I love hanging out at home during the best of times, the lockdown/quarantine period from earlier this year made me appreciate being outside more than ever.  My husband and I strive to go on walks during our lunch breaks to get some actual sunlight and to keep us sane.   It does wonders for our productivity and keeps the work from home motivation going.

#8 – Talk to other human beings – virtual or in-person

There have been so many days where I’ve haven’t seen another human being other than my husband and our kids.  

Working from home is a far cry from working in an office where you have coworkers to talk to day in and day out.  Organise a virtual coffee.  I’ve been doing that with my team on Friday mornings for half an hour.  It’s nowhere near our usual daily coffee run together when we were in the office but it gives us a chance to check in on each other and chat about non-work things. 

#9 – Have a side project to keep things interesting

A side project can be so fulfilling.  It could be fitness related, a creative hobby or you could even start a blog! I’ve had a lot of hobbies over the years, and I realise now how important it is to foster your interests outside of work – it creates that much-needed balance.


So how is working from home going for you and how are you finding the motivation to work from home?  I’ve found it hard at times and in the last few weeks I’ve really miss interacting with my colleagues in the office.  That said, I do like the freedom to make my own schedule and work at my own pace.  If you can find ways to keep yourself motivated and enjoy what you’re doing it, it can make a world of difference to your overall happiness and work from home motivation.

P.S. Finding a work/life balance during lockdown and how a typical WFH day plays out at our place.

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2 Comments

  1. October 14, 2020 / 5:41 pm

    As of today, Netherlands has gone into a partial lockdown (due to a soaring no of infections) and most public spaces like restaurants and cafes have closed. I was feeling rather demotivated this morning and then read your post. Great tips and very timely! I had filmed an IGTV video with similar tips as yours at the beginning of the pandemic. Needed a reminder six months later, thanks!

    • October 15, 2020 / 9:08 am

      I can only imagine how dejected you, and everyone else there, would be feeling. Hang in there! Fingers crossed with more people staying home that the number of community transmissions decreases.

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