Working remotely has become a huge topic these days. Digital Nomads are all over the world, living abroad in the country they love and working from wherever they want. These people are made to work remotely. But... Motivating yourself at the beach of Barcelona is not the same as in a 16 m² apartment in Paris.
For everybody who is not used to working from home but suddenly has to do it, the situation can turn out to be difficult. After a while, you just want to change locations… and if you can’t – either because we’re facing a lockdown like during the COVID-19 crisis, your company decided to go fully remote, you have a broken leg, etc. – you need to find a way to motivate yourself in your home office. Here’s how to do it.
Get Up Early But…
… try to get enough sleep anyway. Getting up early is the first advice you hear when it comes to working from home. Still, I’m pretty sure many of you keep sleeping late, wake up five minutes before they have to start working, and don’t even change their pajamas. Where’s the fun in working from home if you can’t do this anyway?
In the end, getting up early doesn’t bring any value if you’ve only slept for three hours. It’s rather about going to bed early enough to get the sleep you need.
I agree, if you work in your home office for a day or two, it’s fun to just roll out of your bed, get a coffee and start working. But if you are stuck at home for over a week – or you just decided to start your career as a remote worker –, you should change this behavior. If not, after a while your motivation to work from home will be gone.
Best practice: Develop a morning routine and follow it every day. Include whatever helps you wake up and gives you an energy boost.
Create a Home Office Space
This one is for the creative brains among us as it can be a little tricky, especially if you live in a small studio. But I thought about 2 main tips on how to create a “fake” office space and trick your brain.
Move your furniture
Living and working remotely in the same space for a longer time period can be a bit stressful. As a first step, it might help you to just change the way your furniture is arranged in your room. No need to move everything, just try what works best. Maybe you can push your desk to the other side of the room? Or just give it a 90° turn, so you’re facing another direction. Time to be creative.
Get a room divider
A room divider is a great possibility to separate different spaces in your living room/home office. In a small studio, it’s especially good to hide your bed, so you’re not tempted to fall back into it. You can either get a standing version or a curtain (if you have the possibility to fix it). Only one move and your bedroom turns into a small office space.
Take Advantage of Your Time
Are you overwhelmed by all the time you suddenly have because you don’t waste 40 minutes going to the office? I was. It would be a waste to not make the best out of this opportunity! … and I don’t mean that you should work even more.
Take this time to do things you enjoy, something that makes you happy and automatically boosts your motivation. I started to exercise, bake, and read a lot. But there are many other things to do: painting, fancy cooking, writing a short story, talking to friends, developing your skills in something not work-related, learning how to make ice cream, etc.
Definitely create a motivation playlist! Pick all the songs that make you happy. Whenever you feel down, listen to this playlist – and don’t be shy to jump up and dance :P.
Establish a Rewarding System
It’s always easier to work if you have a good reason to finish your tasks, right? What could be a nice reward after a long day of work? If you’re on a diet, you might want to have a piece of chocolate. Or maybe a glass of wine? Watch an episode of your favorite show… If you finish your work faster than planned, why not take 30 minutes off? Just create a rewarding system that works for you.
Start a Side Project
For me, this is one of the best working techniques. Why? It’s simple, a side project that you start for yourself is usually something that you like doing. It might be a project related to work that has no priority right now but that you enjoy working on.
It can also be a private project that you were planning for a while now. You don’t need to spend much time on it if you don’t have it. 20-30 minutes a day will bring you a great step forward and you will be more motivated after having worked on something you like.
Try Different Working Techniques
Every brain works differently, so everybody is productive in a different way. I’m sure you’ve already heard about different productivity techniques, but did you also try them? The most famous is probably the Pomodoro technique – you work for 25 minutes, take 5 minutes break and work again. After 4 rounds you take a longer break.
Other techniques are “Don’t break chain”, “Get things done” or “Eating live frog”. Each of them is focussing on something else, either on doing what is most important first, repeating tasks every day, or prioritizing tasks on a to-do-list. You have to figure out by yourself what is best for you and which way of working keeps you motivated. Feel free to mix several methods to create the perfect one for yourself.
No matter which method you choose, try to include some stretching during your breaks. Your back will thank you!
Don’t Forget to Socialize
Working from home made me realize that I’m kind of forced to socialize when I’m going to the office. This makes it really easy to talk to people and have a drink after work, it just happens spontaneously.
When you’re staying at home, it turns out to be hard to motivate yourself to go out after work. It’s not a problem to stay at home from time to time, but try not to make it your habit. Friendships have to be taken care of and your friends will appreciate seeing you. If you can’t leave your apartment for any reason, invite your friends to your place, schedule e-drinks or just a short hangout call to talk to everyone.
Trying new things from time to time keeps the motivation high and makes you discover which way of working fits you best at this moment. Eventually, you don’t have to work the same way your whole life. Just be open and a bit creative and I’m sure you’ll find your way ;).