There are several advantages to telecommuting. These advantages include working from the comfort of your own home, being close to your family or roommates, and having the luxury of celebrating Casual Friday every day. While it’s awesome to have loads of flexibility, and most reports indicate that working from home increases productivity overall, it can also be distracting at times.
If you are working remotely and you just can’t seem to get into your usual work groove, here are some surefire ways to boost your motivation and increase your productivity.
1. Make a home office
Most people enjoy sitting on their couch, watching television, or snacking in the kitchen. But, let’s face it. If you try and combine working with your favorite home activities, you’re not going to be very motivated to get work done.
In fact, you may find yourself deep in the latest episode of Scandal while munching on a bowl of popcorn only to realize you haven’t looked at your computer once.
If you’re truly going to get work done, you need a dedicated office space at your home. For best results, your office space should be 100% free of distractions. This means you need a door that locks and you need to set ground rules with your family or roommates about when they can and cannot enter your office.
Just like your family or roommates wouldn’t come barging in on you in the middle of a meeting at your corporate office, they should understand not to come in your home office during working hours.
When making your home office, it also helps to make the room look like an office. Make sure you have easy access to all of the tools and supplies you need to succeed. This could include your computer, a printer, video conferencing equipment, paper, pens, and more.
You can also decorate your room to include any career achievements and awards, your educational diplomas and or certificates, and branding from the company where you work. The more your room feels like an office, the easier it will be to stay motivated in the workplace.
Above all, don’t ever work where you sleep. Why? The desire to sleep is powerful. And, it’s easier than you might ever imagine to find yourself justifying a nap or “5 more minutes,” no matter how many deadlines you have.
If you can’t seem to find a comfortable office space at your home, there is no shame in renting an office space close to home. You’ll have the same benefits of working remotely, but with fewer distractions from home.
2. Wake up early
Getting up early is difficult even when you have the pressure of being in the office at 8:00 am every morning.
However, when you are working from home and have no set schedule, the desire to stay in bed, or work on a home project, compounds.
If you want to stay motivated, do yourself a favor and set a specific time to wake up every day.
If you are a morning person, then wake up early. Studies show that morning people are more proactive and more likely to identify with the idea of being in charge of making things happen.
What better way to stay motivated than to fuel your fire for making things happen by waking up early?
As a quick side note, it’s important to remember that not every person in the world is a morning person. If you are not a morning person, you are not doomed to failure in the business world.
Other studies have shown that night people are often more creative and sometimes smarter. If you know yourself well enough to know that morning is not when you make things happen, then don’t waste time trying to become a morning person. Instead set aside time to focus when you do your best work. This brings up the next point.
3. Create a regular routine
You may be tempted to fly by the seat of your pants every day, but if you do that, you’ll soon find yourself disorganized and overwhelmed.
A better idea is to approach your work like the creature of habit that all humans are. Determine when you do your best work, and then set a regular work schedule around that time.
For most, that may mean waking up early, exercising, showering, getting dressed for work, eating a healthy breakfast, and then making a checklist of everything you need to accomplish for the day.
As you get into your routine, you’ll find it’s much easier to stay motivated and accomplish your goals.
Remember to schedule the tasks you need to complete, regular breaks, any meetings you have, and more.
4. Use productivity software
Guess what? You don’t have to rely on your memory or your handwritten “to do” list anymore. There are several productivity tools that will help you stay organized and motivated. Here are some of the best productivity tools for remote workers.
- Slack – Slack is one of the best communication tools for remote teams on the market.With Slack, you can message everyone on your team (no matter their physical location) from one convenient app. You can also create specific chat channels for different projects to stay organized. In addition to messaging and creating channels, you can also share files and add comments to documents. Finally, Slack integrates with several other software and social media channels for increased convenience. You can read more about Slack in our article here: How to Use Slack Like a Pro: The Complete Guide.
- Dropbox – Dropbox is a cloud file sharing program that is perfect for organizing your files and sharing large files. With Dropbox, you’ll never have to worry about wasted time or jamming up an inbox ever again.
- Focus Booster – Focus Booster is a time tracking app that helps you stay focused on the task at hand. This app uses the Pomodoro Technique which helps you increase concentration and minimize interruptions.
- Asana – Asana is a task management software that helps you track your projects, view upcoming deadlines, and submit work. Additionally, Asana will send you notifications of upcoming deadlines.There are several other tools that will help you with task management, time management, file sharing, communication, and more. The important thing is to do your research, decide which software will help you save time, stay motivated, and be more productive, and then use it to your advantage.
- Azendoo – Azendoo is a work management application available on web and mobile that enables you and your team to communicate, share documents, collaborate around tasks and get organised together. It’s a great alternative to Asana and is ideal when your team is spread out geographically.
- Pipefy – Pipefy is a cloud based process management app. It is intuitive, simple to use and allows businesses of all sizes to centralize their processes. It works as an online Kanban: tasks move laterally through the process phases – each phase can have its own set of rules, triggers, etc.
- Zoom – Zoom provides cloud based video conferencing software. It enhances your video experience via any device, any service. It allows video meetings for everyone from everywhere.
5. Plan on taking regular breaks and vacations
Work can pile up and sometimes it seems the best thing to do is to work through breaks.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. And, there is plenty of science to back up the claim that productivity increases when you take breaks.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about why you need to schedule in some regular breaks:
- Breaks, even just mental breaks to daydream, can help you make connections and improve brain function (Science Daily)
- Taking brief breaks helps you stay focused (Science Daily)
- Breaks help you reevaluate your goals and keeps you on track (Harvard Business Review)
If when and how to take a break is lost on you, don’t worry.
The Atlantic has a formula identifying the perfect work-break balance. The Atlantic suggests working for 52 minutes and then taking a break for 17 minutes.
You probably don’t need to time your breaks to 17 minutes. Just make sure you take some time to relax.
Check out how Liam, the co-founder of Time Doctor achieves flow state focus:
You can view the rest of Liam’s module on how to stay productive when working remotely at Remote-how Academy.
Not only should you schedule regular breaks, but it’s vital to take a vacation every once in awhile. Vacations are to help us relax, recuperate, and come back refreshed and ready to work.
If you never allow yourself time to recover, you’ll find your motivation in the workplace plummeting. In America, it’s standard to take off a few days here and there, or maybe even a week or two, but in other parts of the world, they take off up to a month or two at a time.
6. Get dressed for work
I joked earlier about how every day at work can be a Casual Friday. While not wearing pants at work comes with some fun bragging rights, unfortunately, it doesn’t do much for your productivity levels.
When you throw your sweat pants aside and dress up for work, reports indicate that you are more productive. Wearing nice clothing can help boost your confidence, make you feel more powerful, increase your ability for abstract thinking, help you earn more money, and enable you to see the big picture.
When you wear nice clothing, even at your home office, you feel better about yourself and are more productive.
7. Eliminate distractions
Do you find yourself checking Facebook whenever you get bored? What about Twitter?
Pinterest? LinkedIn? Etc. If you are trying to stay on task, then make a goal not to check your social media profiles while you are working.
If you absolutely must check them, then glance at them during one of your scheduled breaks, instead of during your prime work hours.
Social media platforms are not the only form of distractions online. It’s easy to get sucked into your the website of your favorite sport’s network, your favorite blogs, news sites, Reddit, YouTube, any site in your bookmarks bar, and more.
When you really need to concentrate, turn your attention away from the Internet and toward your work.
The Internet is a huge distraction, but nothing can really compete in terms of distraction than with online chat services like Gchat. Responding to a few questions over Gchat may seem harmless, but before you know it, you can get sucked in and spend hours shooting the breeze with your friends.
Not to mention, if your volume is up, every time you get a chat, your computer will ping, throwing your concentration through a loop. The best remedy for eliminating the Gchat distraction is to go invisible. That way, people who ping you often won’t even know you are online.
Also, when you are at work, put your cell phone away. This means checking your favorite apps, reading the news, text messaging, and any other activity.
You can help eliminate distractions on your phone by turning off your notifications. That way, you won’t receive alerts on your phone and will have to go physically enter an app to see if you have any updates.
8. Set up a rewards system
Corporate offices pride themselves on having a killer company culture. Usually, office perks translate into things like free food, cash spiffs for reaching goals, extra time off, more paid vacation time, gift cards, team outings, and more.
Guess what? Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are not entitled to the same types of rewards. The best thing about it is you are your own boss, so you can set up a reward system that works for you.
Maybe you will make a deal with yourself that as soon as you finish the week’s work, you get to go to your favorite restaurant or bar. Maybe this will motivate you to accomplish all your work by Thursday instead of Friday, and you’ll get a day off.
Perhaps you can motivate yourself by going to a movie when your tasks are completed for the day.
It doesn’t matter what kind of reward system you put in place. It just matters that you take the time to create a cool company culture of your own by setting up a system of rewards for achievement.
9. Get a change of scenery
If you are feeling a lack of motivation, then change your scenery every so often.
If the company you work for is local, then schedule some time to pop in and socialize with the people who are working on the same projects as you. This is especially helpful if you are feeling a lack of motivation and need some human interaction to get motivated again.
If the company you work for is too far away, then at least go outside. You can recharge by going for a walk, going out for a delicious beverage, or even working for the day at a shared workspace.
When you are dragging, sometimes the best remedy is some fresh air.
Working from home is awesome so long as you can stay on task. When you follow the advice listed above, you’ll be able to set up a thriving home office and stay productive.
Greg Digneo writes for TimeDoctor.com, a time monitoring and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams. If you would like to see where you and your team are spending your time during work, try Time Doctor free for 14 days.