How to Stay Motivated When Working from Home

People who work from home often have the freedom to make their own schedule. This can be a blessing, but at the same time, when you work from home it’s easy to put off things until the last minute.  This blog post will provide some tips for keeping yourself motivated when you work from home.

  • Have a clean work area – Clutter in your work area can be a distraction.  Make sure all you have in your work area are the things you’ll need to do your work.  You may need to add a few minutes to the beginning and end of each work session so you can get out and put away the things you’ll need.
  • Get rid of mental clutter – Mental clutter can also make it difficult to motivate yourself.  Get rid of the mental clutter by writing down the things that are on your mind, and make an appointment with yourself to deal with them at a later time.  Then focus on the work you have to do .
  • Find ways to get enthusiastic about your work – One way to do this is to focus on the end result of whatever you’re working on, rather than the steps you need to go through to get there.  If you can picture the end result, you’ll find it easier to get motivated.
  • Break down large projects into baby steps – When I started working on my eBook, I broke the process down into smaller steps – I knew I would need to brainstorm how I wanted the book set up, and the information I wanted to include in the book.  Then I would need to do any research that I felt was necessary.  Then I would have to write it,  go through and edit it, maybe a few times, then probably have an editor look at it, then make a cover or have someone design a cover for me, then finally upload it to Amazon.  And of course, while I was doing all that I would have to create “buzz” about the book by writing blog posts and posting on social media sites. This can seem very overwhelming if you look at it all at once – but when I broke down the process into smaller steps, it was much easier to get motivated about it.  When you’re breaking down a process, there are two different types of tasks involved – these are planning or decision tasks, and doing or production tasks.  As far as my book is concerned, the planning or decision tasks were things like deciding how I wanted the book set up and the information I wanted to include in it,  and also deciding on a timeline for when I wanted to complete each phase of the book.  The doing or production tasks are the research and actual writing of the book, as well as creating the book cover.
  • Focus on one task at a time – Most of us have become so accustomed to multitasking that our productivity and motivation have started to suffer.  While it is possible to do a few things at a time effectively, such as talking on the phone and typing, it is much better to “single task,” or do one thing at a time.  The brain can focus much better when you’re using 100% of your brain power for one task, and as a result you’re more productive.  If you have several things you need to do, work on one thing at a time, and give yourself a time limit.  For example, you might work on one aspect of one project for a certain amount of time, then move to another project for a certain amount of time, then come back to the other project later.  If you’re like me, this can be easier said than done – a lot of times, when I start working on one project, I don’t want to stop until I get to a good stopping point – and sometimes that stopping point doesn’t come at the end of the time I’ve allotted myself.
  • Stay hydrated – Another thing that helps focus is to stay hydrated – staying hydrated is important for your body, of course, but taking sips of water every few minutes also gives you short, natural breaks while your brain is working.
  • Visualize the end result, and the process you’ll have to go through to get there – This is tied to the tip about breaking your projects down into small steps.  Once you know the process you’ll have to go through, visualize yourself going through that process and getting to the end result.  These visual images will help keep you motivated to work towards your goals.
  • Listen to your language – Listen to the words you use that are keeping you from getting motivated to do your work.  Are you giving yourself a lot of negative self-talk, such as “I’m never going to finish this project?” If so, that’s probably part of what’s killing your motivation.  Start finding ways to use more positive language.  There are a few different ways you can do this:
    • Figure out what motivates you about your projects – Are you motivated by the pleasure of achieving a goal, or are you motivated by the consequences of what will happen if you don’t achieve a goal?  If you’re motivated by the pleasure of achieving a goal, you’re a “towards” person.  If you’re motivated by the consequence of what will happen if you don’t achieve a goal, you’re an “away” person.
    • Are you motivated by internal or external validation?  If you’re comfortable that you know what you’re doing, and certain that you know the best way to get something done, then you’re an internal pattern person.  If you often need validation from others, then you’re an external pattern person.
    • Are you a big picture person or a detail person? If you get motivated by the big picture, you’re a general pattern person. If you’re motivated by the details, you’re a specific pattern person.
  • Once you’ve figured out where you fall in each of the above patterns, figure out what words motivate you to get different projects done.  The following are examples of some of the words I’m talking about:
    • Necessity words – These include words like must, should, and have to.
    • Desire words – These include words like want, wish, and need.
    • Possibility words – Possibility words include can, capable, and able to
    • Choice words – Choice words include select, decide, and choose.

The first two categories are related to motivation, whereas the last two are related to options and choice.  After looking at the words, if you’ve figured out which one gets you moving towards you goals, great! If you haven’t,  here’s an exercise you can do to figure out what word gets you moving toward your goal:

    • Find a spot in the room that has enough space for you to step forward.
    • While standing in that spot, close your eyes and think about a task or project that you want to do and get motivated about.
    • Picture doing that task and place the  mental picture in front of you.
    • Now test each word out – for example, “I must work on  my ebook,” “I should work on my ebook,” “I have to work on my ebook,” etc.
    • Do any of those words pull you toward the picture you have in your mind? Make a list of the words that got you to step forward towards your picture the strongest.
    • Use these words when you want to get motivated about a project you need to work on.
  • Manage your energy levels – We all have certain times of day when our energy is strongest.  For me, it’s early in the morning after I’ve worked out. Some people are night people,  however.  You should schedule certain tasks for when your energy is high, such as stressful decisions.  Things you can do when  your energy is low include household chores that don’t require a lot of mental concentration, decluttering, and cleaning out your email.  To keep your energy levels high as much as possible, exercise, eat well, drink a lot of water, and get enough sleep.  In addition, you want to make sure you avoid foods that make you feel drowsy or  low in energy ten to thirty minutes after you eat them.  Also, make sure you have good habits around your sleep schedule – stop eating a few hours before you go to bed, and don’t drink a lot of alcohol, because these things can affect your sleep. As far as mental energy is concerned, make sure you know what  you need to do the next day – make a to-do list if you need to, and stick to it.

Following these tips will help you stay motivated, and your days will be more productive.

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