15 Work from Home Motivation Strategies from the Trenches

Summer’s here, and the country is finally turning the corner on the COVID pandemic. It’s a welcome relief after a challenging year of remote work, homeschooling, health concerns, and financial uncertainty. However, change brings more uncertainty regarding what is safe, what is open, and how and when to return to school and the office. In addition, there is more temptation with the vaccines and warm weather to get out and visit friends and family members.

With many still working from home, at least on a part time basis, what work from home motivation strategies are working with all these new distractions? Below are 15 great ideas from remote workers in the trenches.

1. Set Boundaries

When work is done in the home, the boundaries between personal and professional get blurry. Some people find this difficult to manage and their motivation can suffer over time if a balance cannot be found. One way to overcome this problem is to establish (and follow) your own boundaries.

“I’ve been to burnout town. And it’s not fun. Over time I have learned to place boundaries wherever I can, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have a space that is exclusively for work. I have work hours, where my primary purpose is to focus on work activities. Work communications happen only during work time unless absolutely necessary. Having a healthy and sustainable work pattern that builds in time for rest and play helps me stay fresh and motivated to work.” 

Liz Wootton, Director, Leadership & Personal Effectiveness, Human Nature Development

2. Take Breaks

Another group of popular work from home motivation strategies is taking breaks. The time between breaks, the time taken for breaks, and the activities undertaken during breaks vary. However, all agree that breaks are essential to staying fresh, clear-headed, and motivated. Chris Campbell, Partner at The Charming Bench Company describes his break strategy:

“I started taking short but regular breaks. I set an alarm to go off every 45 minutes and take a 15 minute break. During the break, I read a book, or do a sudoku puzzle, or walk around the garden. It made the day go by much quicker, without having a negative effect on the amount of work I could get done. If anything, I’m getting through more now and I’m much happier as a result.”

3. Love Your Workspace

Surrounding yourself with sounds, sights, and smells of the things that you love is another way to stay motivated when working from home.

“Making my own personal space has motivated me in the best way possible. I’ve been working from home for a few years now and having some sensory stimulation at my desk has been extremely beneficial. Music, plants, a big glass of water, essential oils, and fresh flowers are always in my immediate vicinity – they serve as a reminder that life isn’t just about team calls, and the water and essential oils help keep headaches at bay.”

Daniel Foley, SEO Manager, Halcyon School

4.    Implement Self-Care Strategies

Other popular work from home motivation strategies involve implementing healthy habits such as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Another effective strategy is to develop a morning routine to start the day well-rested, alert, and motivated to tackle your day. One example of a morning routine is described by Ashwin Sokke, co-founder of vegan beauty brand, WOW Skin Science.

 “A habit that has helped me is dedicating time to myself every morning before jumping into the workday. Waking up an hour earlier in the morning and setting aside time for physical exercise, followed by a 10-15 minute meditation, has been transformative for my productivity and organization abilities as well as my mental and physical health. I follow my workout and meditation with a healthy and nutritious breakfast, resisting the urge to be on my phone or use any technology.”

5. Structure Your Workday

Many work from home motivation strategies revolve around reestablishing the structure of a regular office day. For example, setting a start and stop time for work, taking regular breaks, and even dressing the part. A proponent of this approach is Mark Coster, BSc Ph.D., Founder of STEM Geek.

“What turned out to work for me was to give up on the very things that I had perceived as perks of working from home. If you wait for when you feel like working, pretty soon you’ll realize you never feel like working. So, I started scheduling out my work hours in a way that emulates the office: start at 10:00 a.m., wrap it up by 6:00 p.m., make it a must to leave my workstation at 7:00 p.m. even if I’m not done for the day. I also began to dress up. Not white shirts or dress pants, of course, but anything that wouldn’t be too comfortable. When working from home, we must make an extra effort not to mistake work for leisure.”

6. Or, Work When you Want to

While some missed the schedules that working in the office provided, others learned to embrace the flexibility working from home provided.

“I’m a self-employed freelancer, so if it’s 2:00 a.m. and I’m wide awake with content ideas running through my mind, who says I can’t crack open my laptop? Heeding the ticks of my own internal motivation clock proved to be best for my work quality and sleep quality — both essential to work from home success. After typing out my thoughts or testing out an idea for a new graphic design, I feel more relaxed and prepared for sleep.”

Kim Back, Senior Job Data Content Producer, Virtual Vocations

7. Spend Time Outdoors

One of the most effective and often cited work from home motivation strategies is to incorporate time outside in nature or simply on the back porch, soaking up some sun. This is a great way to relax, but also improve our mental and physical state as well. Chloe Sisson, Outreach Coordinator for Zen Media, found this out firsthand after being diagnosed with anxiety a few months ago.

“I became incredibly unmotivated, I had trouble completing assignments and even just getting out of bed some days. In an attempt to combat the anxiety and depression I experienced from being cooped up at home, I found a local park with a 3-mile trail. I looked forward to walking every day; it became a way to relax my mind and work my body.”

8. Treat Yourself

Rewards can make wonderful work from home motivation strategies. The variety of potential rewards are endless and your choice depends solely on what motivates you the most. Shad Elia, Founder and CEO of New England Home Buyers, likes to treat herself with new office supplies:

“I was getting demotivated while working from home, and then I treated myself with some new home office supplies. It’s amazing what a new pen, notebook, or collection of sticky notes can do for your motivation to get stuff done and stop procrastinating. Why not reward yourself with a fresh desk plant or a scented candle that will gently flicker away as you work on a tight deadline? It is not necessary to spend a lot of money to make your desk a motivating workplace.”

9. Create A Vision Board

Inspiration is a great motivator, so try creating a vision board to keep you enthusiastic about your career, job, or even the project you are working on. Jason McMahon, Digital Strategist at Bambrick describes his process:

“The idea is simple: create a visual board of your future hopes and dreams. Many people use Pinterest to make vision boards, but having a tangible reminder written and hanging above your desk can be beneficial. When you’re procrastinating over a deadline, look up and think about your bigger-picture aspirations, whether they’re financial independence or getting more time in the evenings to finish a personal project.”

10. Create Community

Professional and social isolation is one of the most frequent complaints by remote workers, especially during the pandemic. Fortunately, there are a variety of work of home motivation strategies that can come to your rescue.

“I joined a group on Facebook for people who work from home. Now we have more than 100 members and it’s been really cool to get support, advice, or just venting so I don’t go crazy working at home all day.”

Michail Korovin, “The Caviar Guy,” Pearls of Caviar

“I use a productivity supporting site called FocusMate. I can schedule a video call with one or more people who are also working or studying from home. Working in sessions with breaks in between, together with having others on the line, helps me stay focused when needed and feel responsible for my output from the session.”

Tim Sutton, Owner of CoffeeGeek TV

11. Get a Coach

Sometimes we forget that leaders are people too. They suffer from the same uncertainties and fears while also shouldering the burden of staying in business during turbulent times. Who does a leader turn to when they need help? Stefan Chekanov, CEO of Brosix, hired a coach.

“My major problem with working from home was low productivity. I realized the quality of my work decreased and I couldn’t allow this since I run the entire company. I decided to hire a coach who would guide me through the process. As managers, we are in charge of helping employees, but we also need support. I researched a bit and found a person who I really enjoy working with. Since I openly talked about my challenge, we were able to find strategies that helped me overcome these issues and increase productivity.”

12. Motivational Talks

Sometimes to get our creative juices flowing and our inspiration soaring we just need a good talking to.

“What I do to stay motivated is dedicate 20 minutes each morning before starting my day to listen to one motivational talk from people like Darren Hardy, Lisa Nichols, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Proctor, John Assaraf, Tony Robbins, T. Harv Eker etc. That puts me in high energy and fuels my day.”

Toni Chowdhury, Women Who Win with Toni Chowdhury

13. Eat the Frog

A side effect of a loss in motivation is the dreaded procrastination. Many strategies were put forward to resolve this timeless dilemma from to-do lists to time blocking. But, none are quite so colorful as Petra Odak’s solution:

“‘Eating the frog’ is a phrase coined by Mark Twain. The logic is that if you eat a live frog the first thing in the morning, that’s the worst thing you do all day and the rest of the day will feel like a breeze. I now do all of my most complex tasks first thing in the morning and the rest of the day is much less stressful.”

Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals

14. Get Your Fun in Early

If you’re daydreaming of hanging out with your friends and enjoying the beautiful day, Gregory Golinski, Senior SEO Manager with Livestorm has an answer.

“Instead of getting up at 8:00 a.m., I get up at 7:00 a.m. and go for a walk in a park nearby. Some mornings, I meet like-minded friends at a local cafe, and we drink flat whites and share croissants together. Exercising or socialising early in the morning makes me feel more motivated and helps me focus on my job. I don’t feel frustrated to be indoors when it’s sunny outside, because I’ve already had my fun in the morning.”

15. Above All — Enjoy What You Do

While we may employ all kinds of tips and techniques to motivate ourselves, in the end, enjoying what you’re doing is the best cure.

“I would say that whatever your goal is, you need to find your rhythm, experience some fun and enjoyment as you work. Find rewards that actually satisfy you, and whenever you complete a step or a task, take the time to feel good about it. To me, self-motivation is not about punishment or grind, but living and being present while we are working and being able to feel proud of our progress as we go.”

 Suzanne Wylde, Coach and Author

Do you have any work from home motivation strategies? What enabled you to overcome burnout, distraction, or other issues? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

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