How to stay motivated when working from home

Posted by Audrey Dubois-Boutet on Oct 19, 2011 Oct 19, 2011

Working from home

I am constantly impressed by freelance translators who work from home daily. With occasional at-home work and a side gig at a non-profit, I have needed to build a system that allows me to work at home more efficiently. But doing so on a daily basis can bring about a number of challenges.

So if you’re considering working from home full time, or even on a part-time basis, here are a few tips to make the experience enjoyable.

Problem #1: I’m home alone and feeling lonely.

Solution: Aside from the usual remedy of turning on the radio, TV or my personal favorite, Pandora, there are a ton of other opportunities for combating the solo blues. The most obvious: make your way over to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant with Wi-Fi. Or find desk space at your local library (if you don’t mind being quiet).

Another option, which has become more widespread in the past few years is coworking, where you can rent desk space along with other people who are looking for a change from the home office.

Seattle and the surrounding area boasts more than a dozen coworking sites (find out more at coworkingseattle.org)! Coworking of course costs money, but it’s pretty equivalent to the amount of coffee and pastries you’ll buy during one month of working at your local coffee shop—or so say the people behind the coworking movement.

Problem #2: I can’t stay focused for long periods of time.

Solution: Take advantage of your surroundings and take a few breaks throughout the day. Being at home, you’ll be able to take care of things the rest of us must do evenings and weekends. So go start a load of laundry, go grocery shopping or meet up with a friend for coffee. As long as you are still putting in the time and effort when you get back to your workstation, taking a few breaks may help to maintain a lower stress level and a higher productivity level.

Problem #3: I procrastinate and can’t motivate myself.

Solution: Some people are better fit for office environments where their peers help to motivate them through projects. But if you have to work from home, here are a few things you can try: (1) Sit down each morning to write out a to-do list, that you can check off as the day progresses; (2) Give yourself a reward for completing a task, such as a walk outdoors, a break to watch your favorite soap opera, etc.; and (3) break up large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

Problem #4: I can’t find a separation between work and personal life.

Solution: When you work in the same place as you eat, sleep and live, lines are bound to become blurred, including the line separating your work life and your personal life. Keep everything separate by:
- Finding an area in your home where you can be the most productive and making sure you find your way there every workday.
- Dressing up. No need to don a suit, but dressing more professionally may get you in a better mindset for the workday ahead. Plus, changing into day clothes may help you avoid the 5 p.m. “I can’t believe I’m still in my PJs!” realization.
- Turning it off. If at all possible, take a step away from your emails and phone. If your job doesn’t require you to be on-call 24 hours a day, select a time every day to sit in silence, without your phone constantly notifying you of emails, messages and updates.

Your turn! What concerns you most when working from home and what distractions must you deal with (children, phone calls, pets, etc.)? Tell us your tips and tricks to make working from home a positive experience.

Image by Sura Nualpradid