How to Stay Motivated When Working at Home
Considering a work-from-home business? Clients often say their biggest fear is loss of momentum.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.d.
Here are some tips to keep yourself motivated and productive.
- Build structure into your day.
Create a schedule and To Do list every evening for the next
day, before you sign off for the day. (And yes it is important
to sign off, even if you return later to complete a project.)
Include breaks and email reading time.
- Define goals by numbers ("write 1000 words")
instead of time ("2 hours on Mega account"). One of
the joys of working at home is you get to quit when you're finished
ahead of schedule.
Train friends and neighbors to respect your working hours.
Clients tell me about neighbors who say things like, "I
told the UPS truck to leave the package at your house since you're
always home." Discourage phone calls with a prepared response,
like "I will call you after four o'clock today." You
will be tested. Prepare to hang tough.
- Get the family on board.
Deal with their concerns before you start and be prepared to
show how you are creating a win-win situation. Clarify what counts
as an emergency a valid reason to interrupt while you are
working - and what can wait till dinnertime.
- Build breaks into your schedule.
When I started my own business, I was warned, "Plan to
get out of the house! Otherwise you'll never leave your desk."
Frankly, I didn't get it.
Why wouldn't I take breaks? Now as I find myself answering
just one more email, or adding two more paragraphs to an article,
I see the clock move and realize I must stop if I want to get
to the gym or the store before closing time.
Bonus Tip: A dog will force you to get moving, no matter what
else is going on in your life.
- Make promises you will be motivated to keep.
My weekly ezine motivates me to write at least one article
a week. You may be energized by company and client deadlines.
As your responsibilities grow, you will tend to accumulate
more and more "real" deadlines and it's easier to stay
motivated. But in the early stages, you're isolated, you're working
hard and results don't appear immediately. That's why some people
hire coaches and consultants to create accountability.
- Give yourself time to test your commitment.
Not everyone enjoys the work-at-home option. My clients tell
me they need six to twelve months to decide how they are responding
to this arrangement. You may decide to return to a workplace
where you can see real people everyday. Or you may get hooked
on having a dog-friendly, gossip-free workplace where you can
open the windows all year round.