Working from home is the dream for many people but it’s incredibly easy to lose motivation and fall into an unproductive and unhealthy routine. With no one looking over your shoulder, the television and fridge can devilish distractions. Heck, sometimes there’s an overwhelming notion to clean the entire house, even though it’s the last thing you’d be excited to do at any other time in your life.
So how does one stay motivated, focused and healthful whilst working from home? Firstly, a good motivation is to remember you’ll have no money if you don’t work. An absolute nightmare for general well-being. Secondly, introduce these simple, effective strategies and you’ll set yourself on the right track for a more productive and enjoyable working day.
Create a routine
This is one of the most important strategies that must not be overlooked. Without a routine, very few people can function at an optimal level. Free styling is a gift that most of us will never understand or achieve, sadly.
Try to get a decent amount of sleep by going to bed and getting up at same time each weekday. Write down your plan for the day and stick to it. It’s amazing what you can achieve by simply writing things down and making a physical to-do list. It will help you to prioritise tasks, organise your overactive mind and spur creativity.
Get showered and dressed
One of the worst ways to start your home-working day is to skip the shower and stay in your pajamas. Taking a shower can do untold wonders when you’re feeling sluggish and demotivated. And whilst it’s important to be comfortable, try to wear something that helps you to get into the right frame of mind for work.
There’s a tendency for those of us who work at a desk to stay put for hours on end. This is this incredibly unhealthy for so many reasons. It weakens the core; it creates tension in the neck, shoulders, back and hips; it can lead to repetitive strain injury in the wrists; and it decreases blood circulation in the legs, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis and various veins.
To combat these issues, you need to do some desk exercises. Stand up and stretch regularly, introduce some simple leg and arm movements and, as difficult as this may be – stop crossing your legs!
Regular breaks and fresh air
It’s so easy to get caught up in work and forget to take a break, but you’ll get more done if you stop working at regular intervals. Ideally you should take a break every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Force yourself to go outside for a quick walk, do a spot of yoga or some simple stretches, or even just make yourself a coffee and listen to the radio for 10 minutes. The important thing is to remove yourself from your work for regular, short intervals to give your eyes and head a rest.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Healthy food and snacks throughout the day can transform your productivity immensely. I have no appetite in the morning. I just want coffee. But I force myself to eat something, even if it’s just a banana. Switch the crisps and chocolate for nuts, seeds, fruit and whole food energy bars. Most of us don’t have time for a long, leisurely lunch, but it’s important to at least schedule a small break to refuel with a healthy snack.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water is something that many of us actually have to remind ourselves to do, which is crazy. But we get so caught up in what we’re doing and often mistake thirst for hunger. Coffee does not count, unfortunately! Without sufficient hydration, your brain will not function properly and you’ll tire more easily.
Invest in a desk and good office chair
This is an added expense that not everyone can afford. But if you can, please do so. You could even get away with just an ergonomic office chair if you can work at the kitchen table. If you’re sitting down for most of the day, a quality chair will support your posture (as long as you stop slouching), reduce the risk of back and neck pain, and relieve pressure on your hips and derrière. Generally, you’ll find it much more comfortable, and this will boost your productivity.
Artificial daylight lamp
These lamps are simply amazing for addressing low energy levels, fatigue and feelings of irritability and depression, particularly during the dark winter months. By recreating the look of sunlight, an artificial daylight lamp can increase the production of melanin in our brains and revitalise our mood.
Setting clear boundaries between work life and home life is key to achieving a healthy balance. There can be a tendency for home-workers to just keep on working throughout the day and night. Whilst this is sometimes necessary to meet a deadline, it is not acceptable on a regular basis.
On the other hand, friends and family often assume you’re free to chat or meet up at any time. Many people fail to understand that working from home does actually involve work. It’s not just a casual arrangement that you can take or leave, though sometimes it is possible to schedule a lunch or coffee on certain days.
To combat these potential issues, set your working hours and stick to them as much as possible, arrange a dedicated workspace in the home (i.e. not your bed or sofa), don’t take personal calls when you’re working, and communicate to friends and family when you are and are not available.
Adopt a dog
This is not an option for all, but it’s great for improving your organisational skills, fitness and general well-being. A dog is also hugely beneficial for relieving the isolation and monotony of working from home. You’ll have to get up and out for regular walks in the fresh air. This will boost your serotonin, get the circulation going and keep you active.
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