I am approaching the end of my second year now working from home on my own and I know first hand how hard it is to stay motivated when you don't have a team around you and staying focused on work when theres so many other things to do at home. I won't lie to you, its tough at times, and it took me a hell of a long time to settle down in to a routine that worked for me.
Considering a lot of you will now becoming to the end of your first ever week working from home, or will be starting in the next few days once your company has put the systems in place, I thought I'd share some tips with you on how to keep motivated and focused. 1- Structure.
You probably have seen so many tips already whether its about working from home or home schooling suggesting that structure is key. I can't stress to you how important it is though. Working from home isn't a holiday, you are working, treat it like any other work day. Set your working hours and stick to them. When I first started I found it too easy to start at 10:30/11ish and finish at 3, or take 2 hours for lunch, or just take a half day because I fancied it and no-one was checking up on me. I now set my hours 9-5 with an hour for lunch as thats what I've been used to working when I've been employed. I have set tasks that I do every morning, and set myself a clear end goal of what I want to achieve before breaking for lunch. After lunch I finish up the orders I want to get posted that day and begin packing around 3:30 everyday so I can get to the post office before 4:45pm. It can be repetitive, but the structure and routine helps so much when your struggling to focus. I also keep all social interactions as much as possible outside of my work hours, I wouldn't be able to take the afternoon off to go for a coffee with my friends if I was in employment so I don't when I work for myself.
2- Treat it like a usual work day
This is very similar to structure. When your working from home, its easy to slip into staying in your pyjamas until midday because you don't need to leave the house. Don't. It's great the first few days, but honestly it does nothing for your mental health or motivation. Get up, and get dressed like you would for work any other day. Obviously if you usually have a long commute, you don't need to get up as early was you would normally, but still get up early. I have two dogs that I have to walk each morning, so I treat that as my commute. As soon as I'm back home, I make a cup of tea and go up stairs to start making or sit down at my laptop to look at emails much like I would if I was in an office job. Same with the end of the day, the dogs and I go for a walk at 5 and once we are back home, home is home again and no longer my office. If you don't have dogs to walk, still try and get out for a quick walk around the block before you start work. It's such a great way to clear your head and get you in the right headspace to begin work. Likewise, at 5 switch off, go for a walk, and "commute" home.
Our "commute" home..
3- Try to resist doing housework. Oh my god, I found this so hard, and still do. Theres ALWAYS something that could be done around the house. Cleaning the bathrooms, loading/unloading the dishwasher, doing the laundry. If you were at work you wouldn't be doing these in the middle of the day, so try and limit them whilst your WFH. Granted, this is awn excellent time to get that work life balance and get on top of all those chores that you've been wanting to get done but haven't had the time. However, you might find yourself using them as an excuse was to why your not getting any actual work done. Set your self breaks in the day were you can get a few things done, but keep them small, don't decide your going to declutter your kitchen towards the end of lunch. You won't get it finished and it will just be a distraction the rest of the afternoon. Instead if your making a cup of tea, put a quick load of laundry on ready to swap over at lunch or the end of the day.