Working from home can feel at first like a blessing: no commute, saving money on petrol, spending all day in the comfort of your home and so on. But many find that retaining the same motivation as you would have in the office is a challenge. However, it’s important that every effort is made to maintain this drive.
Being the head of partner delivery at Phase 3, I know that working from home is no excuse for letting standards slip. After all, wouldn’t you rather impress your employer, colleagues, and clients by staying on top of your game under the most difficult of circumstances?
To help you with this goal, I have put together a selection of top tips to stay motivated when working from home. I hope they prove useful, no matter what field you are in.
Create a to-do list
I love a good list! The last thing I do before logging off each evening is to prepare for the day ahead and write down my tasks for the next day. Having a key set of goals and objectives I need to achieve during the day helps keep me focussed and mindful of my required actions. It also feels satisfying to see the list get shorter throughout the day as actions get ticked off. Separating these tasks out into what ‘must’ be achieved and what would be ‘good’ to complete helps further set me up for the day. This way I am less inclined to tick off the easier and less essential tasks just for the satisfaction of doing so, but I am able to focus my efforts to stay on top of my deadlines and not feel stressed, overwhelmed or de-motivated by having a pile-up of urgent tasks to complete.
Create a dedicated workspace
Where possible, try to create a space away from your bed/sofa and have a dedicated working environment where you can operate with minimal distraction. You will also want to ensure you are keeping the boundaries clear of where work and home life end. This will ensure that you are less likely to be distracted by the television or the book on your nightstand, but more focussed on your projects, to-do list and meetings.
If you can have a dedicated space, try and set up your workstation as you would in the office, with a suitable desk, chair with good lumbar support to keep your back healthy. In short, the more your workspace feels like a productive office environment, chances are you will stay more motivated.
Set up a routine
The idea of a routine may sound impossible, particularly for those who are acting as a home-school teacher along with their day job. Try to figure out when you are most productive, or when you are most likely to have some clear-thinking space and use your time wisely.
If you used to exercise each morning or evening before/after work, then try and stick to that routine by going for a run or a walk around the neighbourhood. Create a schedule that fits in with your lifestyle and do not forget to take regular breaks either, this will ensure you do not burn out. Have a coffee break in the garden or when sat away from your screen, this will help to focus your mind.
By setting a routine it is much easier to stay focussed on the tasks at hand, remain motivated and accomplish your objectives.
It is all too easy when working from home to stay in your pyjamas or put on your sweats. Whilst I personally am not advocating wearing a suit and tie when working at home (nor do I when in the office), I do ensure that I dress appropriately.
Recently I have started to increasingly use my webcam when on conference calls. As I can no longer visit customers in person, having a webcam does allow for a more personal touch – meaning you’re more interactive and less likely to casually check the notifications on your phone. For myself, jeans and a shirt or t-shirt does the job, it helps keep me more focussed and less inclined to feel like I am about to go to bed, with the extra incentive knowing that I am going to be more visually facing to customers. This adds an extra dimension to helping me feel engaged and motivated throughout the day.
Don’t go it alone
I was quite accustomed to working a couple of days a week at home before the coronavirus hit, but staying at home and not being able to go to the office does mean I am unable to interact with my team and colleagues as I use to. I miss the buzz and camaraderie of working on a busy office where information is free-flowing and ideas can be bounced off one another with ease.
Whether we are discussing clients’ needs about implementing HR technology or advising on payroll, we at Phase 3 have regularly used instant message applications to communicate. Further still, during the stay home initiative resulting from the coronavirus, it has been of great benefit to set up a ‘daily drop-in’ session. During this time there is no set agenda, the discussions can be work or social related – a virtual coffee break if you like. Not all of the team join each day, but by being able to reach out and connect to colleagues who otherwise I may not connect with in the day continues to instil the values of teamwork and knowledge sharing we valued when under the same roof.
When your home is the office, it can be all too easy to continue working into the night. Of course, for those also balancing childcare with work responsibilities, your day can get fractured and at times evening work is completed to balance the disruption throughout the day.
Nonetheless, it is still important to remember that your home is first and foremost, just that, and not a 24/7 office. Set a schedule for when you will log off, hide away the laptop and make time for your loved ones, and importantly, for yourself. A continual cycle of working is not going to do any good for your mental health and your motivation. Keep yourself motivated by splitting out your home life and work life, even when these fall under the same physical roof.
Tips for staying motivated when working from home
• Create a to-do list
• Create a dedicated workspace
• Set up a routine
• Get dressed
• Don’t go it alone
• Home time
For more tips, information, and advice on working from home and on an array of other topics, make sure to head to our blog page.
This article was written by Simon Davies, Head of Partner Delivery at Phase 3.