Wondering What Happened to Your Motivation? Reclaim it Here With These Secrets!
Working from home is full of perks–a short commute, greater flexibility, and more time to spend with family. But, it can also be challenging to maintain motivation from a home office. There will be times when you struggle and your motivation wanes. Over the years, I’ve learned three keys to staying motivated while working from home–expectations, habits, and connections. Here are my best tips in each category.
Scale Your Expectations
When you start thinking about working from home, it’s easy to have unrealistic expectations for your experience. You may have a vision of fulfilling all your professional goals, giving your children unlimited time and attention, cooking gourmet meals every night, and managing an efficient and lovely home like a pro all the time. The reality is likely totally different. That mismatch can lead to disappointment and diminishing motivation. There are a few keys to combating this scenario:
- Set and pursue goals for your professional and personal life. As part of this, identify milestones to keep you going. Celebrate the completion of big projects at work or in your personal life, like getting kids back to school for a new term or planning a big family event. Use a broad definition of success when considering your wins and finding accomplishments worth celebrating.
- Remember why you are working from home. This can help ground you when you are struggling. Write your initial work-from-home objectives down and review them. Remember the feelings that led you to pursue home-based work and catalog them. Then, include all the benefits–expected and unexpected–that have popped up since you decided to work from home. Review this list when you need a motivation boost.
- Revisit your expectations. As you think back on the journey that led you home, try to remember your expectations for the experience. Rescaling your expectations to more fully match reality can help you find the motivation to keep going.
Develop Good Habits
When you commute and go to the office, it creates a ritual. You get dressed, drop off the kids, get coffee, and arrive at the office ready for a few minutes of small talk before getting to work. At the end of the day, you bid your coworkers good night and head home to relax.
When you work at home, you may shuffle between your computer and the kitchen. You might fold laundry on conference calls and meet family needs as you pursue work deadlines. Working like this every day is exhausting, leading to a hit to your motivation. The solution is to create a new set of rituals to help you start and end your workday. Here’s how:
- Create and follow a work schedule for each day. The plan can vary based on what’s happening in your life on any given day. But, identify your work hours in advance and share the schedule with your family, so they know when you are at work. Honor the schedule, so you set natural limits on your workday. As you think about your schedule, include some time to take care of yourself. Exercise and fresh air do wonders for your state of mind and level of motivation.
- Work in a dedicated space. It doesn’t need to be a fancy home office. Just pick a place where you can consistently work with a little privacy and quiet. Add a few personal items to your desk to make it feel more like your workspace.
- Get dressed and ready for work. No need to dress up (unless you want to!), but the act of changing into work clothes and getting ready can help you feel more prepared to work.
- Create an end-of-the-day ritual, such as tidying up your desk or making a to-do list for the next day, to help you transition from work back to home life. Take a few minutes to reflect on your accomplishments before your short commute back to the main part of your house.
When you work in an office, you see your coworkers every day, and impromptu conversations occur regularly. (Sometimes so regularly that it’s tough to get actual work done.) When working from home, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your coworkers or other professionals. Find ways to connect with your colleagues via phone or video conference. Send invitations for virtual coffee dates, so you have dedicated time to catch up. When you do meet, business is sure to come up. But make time for some small talk at the top of the call. This will help you know your colleagues better and help you stay connected.
Also, connecting to others outside your immediate work situation can help you feel less isolated in your home office.
- Join professional organizations. When you join an industry-related professional group, you’ll get the chance to network with others in your field and, in many cases, have the option to attend educational webinars and conferences. This is a great way to stay connected, learn more about the industry, and expand the circle of people you know with similar professional interests.
- Engage with local organizations. Joining a local civic or professional organization is a great way to get connected with people locally. You’ll likely have opportunities to volunteer and meet other work-from-home professionals who can become friends and possible future colleagues.
- Read relevant trade publications and blogs to stay on top of trends in your industry. Seeing bigger picture news can help you feel more connected to your profession beyond your current role and inspire you to consider new angles for your work and opportunities in your professional life.
These are my top tips. I’d love to hear how you stay motivated while working from home. Please send me your ideas.