With the pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal. And whether you work from home alone or find yourself surrounded by screaming children, it can be difficult to focus. No boss is looking over your shoulder, keeping you in check. And distractions abound, starting with the refrigerator, television and social media, just to name a few. You may not even realize it, but you are probably working longer hours too. One study revealed that full-time remote employees are working an additional 26 hours a month, adding nearly an extra day of work to the week. And as the number of work hours increase, so do stress levels. According to one survey, 91% percent of employees say they’ve experienced moderate to extreme stress while working from home during the pandemic.
All those factors combined can make it challenging to sustain high levels of productivity. But by employing these work from home strategies, you’ll be able to stay motivated—even in the long-term.
Declutter your home office
Not only will decluttering your home office benefit your productivity levels, but it is also good for your mental and physical health. A study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) identified a direct link between the stress hormone cortisol and clutter. And another report found that people with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight. Organize your home office by getting rid of paper, trash, and any other unnecessary items. Also, clutter doesn’t just refer to physical things. Nonessential software on your computer can be considered digital clutter. Try organizing documents into folders and delete any unneeded files. Go through your email inbox and archive important emails so you can focus on the most critical messages.
Change your outfit
Clothes have a strong psychological impact on motivation when we work from home. According to Dr. Karen Pine, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, dressing too casually can make us less focused and alert. According to Professor Pine, “When we put on an item of clothing, it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on, we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.” The bottom line: don’t work from home in your pajamas. You can be comfortable. Just change into something that signals to your brain that it’s time to work.
Take regular breaks
If you work from home, it can be easy to work too long without stopping. That’s why taking regular breaks is so important. Not only does working non-stop make you feel drained, but it also takes a physical toll. Not taking frequent breaks can cause muscle and joint problems and even cause repetitive strain injuries. Pausing throughout the day boosts our energy, improves our focus, increases our motivation and makes us more effective. Get in the routine of taking a 5 to 7-minute break every hour. Then focus on an activity that allows you to disconnect from your computer mentally and physically. Take a short walk, stretch, go to the kitchen and make a healthy snack, or spend some time with your pet.
If you can, take one of your regular breaks outside. Getting outdoors when you work from home does wonders for your motivation levels. Even just a quick walk around the block can be enough to clear your mind. Exposure to light and fresh air is one of the most positive things you can do for your well-being. If the weather allows, you might even consider an outdoor workspace—whether it’s on a balcony, on a porch or in your yard. All you need is a reliable power source and a strong Wi-Fi signal. Getting outside can also help you make the transition from work to personal time. Going for a jog or taking your dog for a walk can go a long way in helping you decompress at the end of a long day.
If you are having trouble completing a project, use a reward to help motivate you and hold you accountable. For example, you can tell yourself that you can have a cup of your favorite tea as soon as you finish a presentation. To say inspired, you can also give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the day. Reward yourself with your favorite podcast, watching a video or taking a long, hot bath.
Staying motivated when you work from home can be a challenge. But you have a choice. You can give in to the pressure or use the current situation to become your best self.