5 Tips for Remote Workers: Staying Engaged and Motivated
With the advent of the internet, more and more workers have gone the route of the digital nomad. Whether you’re working from your kitchen or logging on while traveling overseas, there’s no denying that working remotely can be an incredibly convenient setup. You can nix the morning and evening commute, which means you can wake up later, have a leisurely breakfast, and then start working in your pajamas, if that’s your cup of tea. Or maybe you take your laptop with you down to the local coffeeshop, or to a picnic bench at a nearby park. If you have little ones, you can easily keep an eye on them while still getting your work done.
And there’s a greater degree of freedom that comes with working from home — the ability to work with less supervision than in an office environment. Studies show that poor supervision is one of the driving factors behind employee turnover. Even if your supervisors are competent and effective, many workers find it easier to fully focus and deliver on their tasks when they’re in a comfortable setting without a manager looking over their shoulder. This, in turn, leads to greater efficiency and increased productivity.
However, working from home comes with its own unique set of challenges, one of which is motivation. When you’re at home (or working from a lounge chair by the beach), you’re most likely feeling pretty relaxed — which is great. But it is possible to get overly relaxed. Lying down on your bed (or curling up in the sun) every time you want to take a break isn’t always the best idea. Not only are you going to risk falling asleep, but you’re also going to feel more passive and unenergetic throughout the day, and this will prevent you from performing efficiently.
And there will always be other distractions when you work from home, like the TV, the internet, social media, etc. You might end up spending your time watching your favorite show, or browsing the latest celebrity gossip, or falling down an internet meme rabbit-hole. And you’ll only realize at the end of the day that you haven’t done your allotted amount of work.
To ensure you’re working effectively and productively, you must learn to combat the feelings of laziness, loneliness, and distraction that will invariably appear. Here are a few tips that will help you stay engaged while working remotely:
So, you’re not going to the office and you don’t see the point of putting on a nice pair of pants and a dress shirt. In fact, you might even think that there’s no point in working from home if you’re going to have to dress well there, too. While lounging about in well-worn pajamas all day long might lead to relaxation and enhanced creativity, there is a psychological science behind our clothing choices and our behavior, and a few days in a row of comfy pajama-wearing might actually end up working against you when you need to feel alert and productive.
So why not come to a compromise? You don’t have to dress up in a suit and tie, or even starch and iron your clothes the way you would when you go to work, but you can at least put on something a little peppier than those old, worn, fleece pajamas. Throw on those sweatpants and t-shirts — as long as they’re not old and ratty. Or maybe you’re a fan of a plush velour sweatsuit. A comfortable cotton dress, a nice, loose skirt, or a comfortable pair of loose Khakis or cargo shorts are a few good options. The idea is to look presentable while staying comfortable.
And don’t forget to shower when you wake up! Get that gunk out of your eyes. Looking presentable will go a long way towards motivating you to work harder. You’ll feel bright and cheery, and it will show up in your work.
Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
Sure, it may seem very tempting to work from your bed, under the covers, with your laptop perched precariously on your chest. But sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself slipping lower and lower on the cushions. And then you might start yawning. And before you know it, it’s time for a nap.
Snap out of it. Don’t work from bed. If possible, convert one of the rooms in your home into a home office. Get yourself a desk and a chair. Make sure the chair is comfortable and supports your spine properly, or even invest in a standing desk, since we now know that sitting is the new smoking. Position the desk in such a way that you have a nice view. If possible, set yourself up in front of a window that overlooks some greenery. Or place one of your favorite pieces of artwork on the wall in front of your workspace.
Your work area shouldn’t make you feel trapped in a corner — but it also shouldn’t be too comfortable. Find creative ways to arrange your space so you can strike the right balance.
Decorate your office with things you like. Remember, you’re going to spend a sizable chunk of your day in here, so it’s worth putting some effort into it. Paint the walls a nice color. Get some bright curtains and artwork. Put up some photos of friends and family. Get some fresh flowers to brighten your mood. These might seem like unnecessary frills and furbelows for a home office, but they’ll help keep you going throughout the day.
Set Quantitative Goals
It’s fine to keep on working without any set goals if you are able to motivate yourself to do so. But many people find that goal-setting really helps them to stay motivated and engaged.
However, there is the risk of setting your goal too high or too low. If you set your goal too high, you’re likely to get disheartened when you can’t reach it by the end of the day or the end of the week. On the other hand, if you’re setting your goal too low, then you’re not challenging yourself to do more, and you’re not fulfilling your potential. Again, find a way to strike the right balance for you.
One way to find your balance is to review your work from the previous week or month and do the math to find your averages. Then set your goal for the next week at about ten percent more than that.
Set Quantitative Goals
Remember that goals aren’t always quantitative. They’re also qualitative. Your goal may not just be to increase your output; maybe you’d like to attempt a new project or master a new skill. These goals can be a bit more challenging, so be sure you’re not too hard on yourself as you attempt to reach them.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to find time away from your existing workload to try something new. But even if you can make time for your new project twice a week, you’re likely to make progress, and that progress will continue to motivate and excite you to stick to your goals.
Set Time-Related Goals
Another option is to set time-related rather than task-related goals. If you’ve been putting in four hours of work per day, for example, you might want to increase that to five hours per day. Sometimes, time-related goals work better than task-related ones because they reassure you that you’re giving the task an ample amount of time, even if you don’t end up finishing it.
Often, it’s not possible to know in advance how much time a certain task is going to take. Most people underestimate the time they put into things. It’s always a good idea to just increase the time you’d normally allot for your work, and relax in knowing you’ve made a good-faith effort to properly scope your projects. Eventually, you’ll get the job done. But remember, this strategy only works if you don’t have a looming deadline.
Working from home can be grand, but even when you’ve armed yourself with the right tools for productivity, it still does have its challenges. If you’re proactive and tackle these challenges head-on, however, you’re likely to achieve a great deal.
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