Kicking the Clutter: How to stay motivated when working from home

Working from home is even more challenging during COVID-19, with extra stress and concern about the future. Don’t be too hard on yourself right now; we’re all doing our best under these peculiar circumstances.

Most people find working from home to be challenging at first. There are piles of dirty laundry, restless kids and endless TV drama; distraction is always present and possible. Whether you’re home alone, or with the family, you may find it a challenge to stay on task and feel productive.

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I hope the following strategies can help you stay motivated when you work from home:

Create a schedule
Without a structured workday, time will be wasted, and we become scattered in so many directions. You might find that you start postponing or avoiding things you have to finish, or you trade the work with internet surfing or Netflix’s constant drama. A clear schedule will establish a time to begin and end work.

Set up a designated workspace
You might be tempted to work in bed or on a comfy couch. These are very comfortable places for sleep or rest but not helpful to your motivation and productivity. Find a spot in your home where you feel motivated and energetic. It could be a space by the window overlooking your beautiful garden. The kitchen table is another possibility, or if you are lucky enough to have your own office, make this space beautiful and inspiring.

Work in small blocks
Blocking out small amounts of time and planning what you’ll do during that time frame can make big tasks feel more manageable. This is especially helpful if you have a big and lengthy project. You might find you have more motivation when telling yourself you just need to complete one small task in the next 30 minutes, rather than telling yourself you have to finish by lunchtime. Scheduling your time will also hold you more accountable. You’ll be less likely to get distracted and tempted to check social media activities when you know you only have 15 minutes to complete a task. By sticking to your schedule and tight deadline, you will avoid the traps of procrastination.

Limit distractions
You might find that you struggle to get back on task each time you’re interrupted. You can stay motivated by limiting the distractions and interruptions you experience. This might mean muting your phone notifications and only checking your email once every two hours or placing your phone on “Do Not Disturb” until you complete a specific task. If you’re working from home with children, establish some ground rules about what constitutes a valid reason for them interrupting you while working. When they cooperate, you can reward them for good behaviour with something they like to do.

Reward yourself
You might find you work best when you know there’s a little reward waiting for you. For example, tell yourself you can watch your favourite show if you get your work done by 5 pm. A little incentive can often go a long way toward helping you get work done efficiently. And it will help you build confidence that you can accomplish any goals you set for yourself.

Ranka Burzan owns a professional organizing company based in Powell River and has written several books on reducing clutter and becoming more organized. For information, go to solutionsorganizing.com.

 
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