Top tips to keep you motivated and productive while working from home

With many of us now working from home due to lockdown, it is important you find ways to make remote working work for you. Part of this is comes from recognising that it is easy to fall into ‘bad’ habits at home, which could have an adverse impact on your mental health. There are, however, plenty of things you can do to stay motivated and productive. Below we list just a few.

Start the day fresh

It may seem obvious but getting yourself into the right headspace before starting work is important – just as you would do when commuting. Getting up at a regular time, making sure you have something to eat/drink, and getting dressed for the day prepares you for work as ‘normal’. Indeed, research shows that completing tasks in the same order repeatedly builds brain power and supports mental health.

And, while there is no harm in waking up later if the extra sleep helps you feel fresh, rolling out of bed straight onto a Zoom call throws you straight into work with no time for your brain to prepare for the day ahead, which could reduce your overall level of productivity.

Take time away from the screen

This is often easier said than done, especially if an urgent deadline comes up. However, when working from home it is easy to blur the line between your home life and work life.

To remind yourself to take regular breaks, you can use the Pomodoro technique or ‘tomato timer method’. When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines. With time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (five minutes is ok)
  5. After four short breaks take a longer break

Try the two-minute rule

Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the “two-minute rule” to make the most of small windows of time that you have at work. The idea is this: if you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. The theory behind this is that completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later.

Turn off notifications

No one can be expected to resist the allure of an email, voicemail, or text notification. If you have a deadline, or need to focus on a task, turn off your notifications. This will mean you will need to check your emails to make sure you don’t miss anything vital, but it will stop the temptation to reply immediately and get distracted when something pings through.

Wind down at the end of the day

As you don’t pack up to leave the office as normal, it is vital that even when working from home you can mentally clock out. It is a good idea to tidy your work area away for example, and close your laptop once you decide to finish, so you don’t keep checking it throughout the evening.

It may also be beneficial to take up a new hobby, either physical or mental, so that you have something to look forward to at the end of the working day that officially means the working day is over.

About an hour before going to bed it is also recommended to stop looking at screens altogether as research shows blue light may have an adverse impact on sleep. When trying to be productive, getting enough sleep is crucial, so it may be useful to try reading, avoiding any caffeine and having a bath (if you have one) before bed as these have all been recommended by sleep scientists to relax the mind and increase your chances of getting a full eight hours sleep.

Do you have any other tips that help you stay motivated and productive while working from home? Let us know in the comments below.

If you would like other working from home advice, check out some of our other blogs.