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Keeping your Motivation in Check – While working from Home

So you are living the new american dream (it seems), and working from the comfort of your own home.  You have avoided the mind numbing gridlock and tossed aside the uncomfortable stiff business attire.  It’s actually possible to enjoy lunch with the kids or spend a few quiet moments by the pool.

Great!  Kudos to you!

Along with all that you have gained though, there most likely is a bit of seemingly self inflicted pain.  You are now possibly out of the loop.  There is no-one standing at your office door gently reminding you about your upcoming deadlines.   There are likely days when it is tempting to simply find other things to do with your “free” time.

“Telecommuting can prove extremely challenging,” says Andrew J. DuBrin, a professor of management at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. “Some people thrive in a home-office environment while others falter. Most people have to work at creating the right environment and structure.” Without a good deal of discipline, he says, it’s all too easy to wind up under performing or tackling a steady stream of work at the expense of family, friends and personal sanity.

Tips to stay on track

As mentioned you most likely will encounter days when you find yourself doing everything else but your actual paying work.  There is also just as likely to be an opposing side to this same issue – You find yourself working all hours of the day, well passed 5 PM and into the evening.  Not because you have to, but because the work is always available to you.

As a professional it’s important to adopt certain personal practices that provide you with a sense of balance.  Such as having a delegated work space set aside in your home.  Also to attempt to keep the same routine your would have had if you were to still be commuting.  Lastly, to set “normal” work hours, whatever those might be to you – remember they don’t necessarily need to be 9-5, but they need to make sense.  If all your clients are 9-5er it would be in your best interest to be available to them at least 85% of that time.

Establish firm boundaries for yourself.  Nancy deLay, an organizational psychologist, suggests that telecommuters use separate PCs for work and home-related activities. “You avoid getting distracted during the workday but you also don’t get sucked back into work in the evening when you go to shop online or check your personal e-mail,” she says.

It’s also wise to create daily incentives. Some telecommuters reward themselves with coffee breaks or a few minutes of downtime as they achieve goals throughout the workday. Those who feel isolated should consider setting up an occasional lunch meeting with co-workers or other professionals. Says DuBrin: “Those that take the work seriously and create the right physical and psychological structure can find telecommuting a rewarding experience.”


But what happens when you just seem to run out of steam?  Or possibly just hit a brick wall mentally?

When your motivation seems to have taken a short siesta or worse a full on vacation there are exercises that you can do to get it back on the right track.

  • Hit the mental reset button –  give your motivation the extra few feet that it needs right now on that proverbial leash.  Go ahead let your mind wonder, listen to some music, or simply go for a short stroll outside. However, set a time limit for this leniency.
  • Get moving –   Taking a stroll was already mentioned, but let’s take it one step further.  Either hit the gym or even zumba along to your favorite DVD.
  • Indulge in some mindless tv viewing –  Log into Netflix or Hulu and watch anything … anything that doesn’t require much thought.  Such as the latest episode of Family Guy or an old episode of MASH.  Again, remember your time limits.  Not a full movie but a short little mental break. Crawl into bed and get comfy – Take a short 30 minute power nap to refresh your body and brain.

Now that you have your Mr. Motivation back in check, how do you keep it there?

Performing some of the exercises it took to get it back on track can also be used regularly for it to not become derailed in the first place.   Also consider adding in the following:

  • Create and keep a routine – Sounds simple right?  It should be for most, however some of just don’t have the willpower to put down the XBox and pick up the keyboard!  But if you create a routine or schedule for yourself you can actually schedule in some of that much desired XBox time!
  • Dress the part –  Get up take a shower (Yes, take an actual shower), and dress as if  you were going into the office. It’s in a way tricking your brain into “work mode.”  If you sit around in your PJ’s all day, your mind tends to stay in “home mode” rather than “work mode.”
  • Threaten yourself – If you are lucky to work from home, even if on occasion, stop and remember that this is a privilege.  A privilege that most just don’t have the luxury of having.  Don’t mess it up and lose it!

If you truly wish to be successful working from home and overcome the urge to allow Mr. Motivation to take extended vacations, you need to do whatever it takes to consider your telework days as important and valuable.   With luck and some on track motivation, you’ll be a success!

3 thoughts on “Keeping your Motivation in Check – While working from Home

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