Working from home can be brilliant, but when it’s unexpected, unplanned and protracted, keeping your motivation levels high can be challenging. Combined with an unfamiliar work environment, uncertainty and things vying for your attention it’s easy to get distracted and to find yourself at the end of your working day with little progress. To keep your energy set to the best level here’s five steps.
We have this curious notion that motivation somehow appears. It doesn’t. It comes from starting. So when you don’t want to do something, just sit down and start whatever it is you need to start. Yes, this takes discipline, and so it can help to have a mini-goal.
Say to yourself, ‘I’ll work on this for 15 minutes, and after that, I can have a cup of coffee’. What you’ll find is that when you reach the 15 minute mark, you will likely keep going to get the task finished.
Keep a routine
Starting, of course, takes discipline, and what helps in that regard is routine, which includes setting start and finish times and creating habits that help you get the most out of your day.
The night before write down the list of activities and projects you want to progress and accomplish the next day. For each of these tasks, time block the amount of time you want to spend on them. Working in 30 – 60 minute blocks is the most effective, with research showing this is the optimal length in which your brain can focus. After each time block, get up and move.
Schedule break times
Set aside time to reward yourself for your efforts, and ideally make these rewards physical.
Get off the chair and exercise to release endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good about ourselves, and when we feel good, it is easy to keep focused.
As well, music impacts how we feel. There’s much research which affirms the positive impact it has on the motivation to exercise. When listening to music, people run for longer, bike longer and swim faster. The same applies to work. Music can motivate you to work more productively.
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to be socially isolated. Technology facilitates face to face communication, so rather than email pick up the phone and call people, or chat online.
Set regular times in which you will check in with your team and colleagues. Use these connection points as an opportunity for support and engagement, as well as motivation.
When we commit publicly to achieving a task, we are far more likely to see it through, so share your goals and targets with your colleagues.
Set up your environment
Find ways to make your home workplace aesthetically supportive. Consider noise levels, smell, lighting and things that may distract you.
For example, turn off all electronic distractions that aren’t helping you focus. Scent has a powerful impact on how we feel. You can use incense or an oil diffuser to shift the mood of your workspace. Where possible, opt to work in a room with natural light, and select noise levels that work for you. Some people like background noise; other people need silence.
Research shows that making progress is a huge factor in keeping us motivated.
Make your progress visible by writing down the keys tasks, with times allocated and cross out the tasks as they are completed. This simple approach helps you maintain a sense of progress and so the brain’s natural reward chemical – dopamine – kicks in!
Written by Michelle Gibbings. Have you read?
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