How to Be Productive and Motivated While Working Remotely

Miranda Lial
April 13, 2020

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase ‘some people can’t work from home’, or maybe you think that’s true of you and now you’re dreading trying to work remotely. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. We at Belt Creative work exclusively on a remote level, so we have plenty of tips and strategies to help you transition to working from home. It’s not as hard as you think, and you can do it. Let’s get into it.

Distraction: The Major Blocker

What’s the biggest issue you face when working from home? It’s the same issue that can still creep up on you in the office, but it rears its head more easily at home. Distraction. Whether your dog needs to go outside, other people at home are talking to you while you’re trying to focus, or the phone rings at the most inconvenient time. Here are a few steps and tricks you can use to cut down on the distractions as much as possible.

Create a Work Space

Firstly, close the door where you’re working. If you aren’t currently working where you can close a door, move to a room where you can. Even if people aren’t speaking to you, simply watching someone walk back and forth in the same room as you can knock you out of focus. Treat working like meditation. You need peace and quiet. It may also help to let the others living with you know that you don’t want to be disturbed by hanging something on the outside of a closed door where you’re working.

Do Not Disturb is Your Friend

If you’re not using your cellphone for work, silence it. Avoid answering calls and texts that aren’t emergencies, and keep off of your personal email. Also, keep off of social media, TV, and streaming sites. They’ll be there at the end of the day, when you’ll need them to unwind.

Your Pets: Truly the Best Stress-Relief

Pets are a bit different, of course, since they usually can’t take care of their needs on their own. If there are other people in your house available to walk your pet, ask them kindly to handle it while you work. If not, it’s okay to take a few minutes to destress with your furry friend. They’re amazing at making you feel better, after all. Just don’t meander too slowly.

Does Music Count as a Distraction?

Some people can’t focus through sound. Others however, need at least quiet background noise to keep things from feeling forced or stressful. If you’re finding the silence more distracting than noise, you can try music, but I would recommend steering clear of loud volume or any songs with lyrics. Soft, instrumental music can help you to pass the time without drawing you into belting along to a power ballad.

Setting up a Home Office

If you’re going to be working from home, you should really think about setting up a home office. Even if it’s only for a short period of time, or a corner in another room, an area dedicated to working is important to getting in the work mindset.

Try to sit at a desk, whether or not you’re on a laptop. And since clutter can cause more stress on top of your work day, keep everything clean and organized. Having everything you need in one place will help you feel prepared and productive. If you don’t already have one, get a comfortable chair. It may seem like a trivial thing, but a comfortable chair will prevent back strain while sitting for long hours.

Don’t leave personal items at your home office, leave it designated for business only. While you spend hours at your desk, make sure to make choices or changes to protect your eyes from strain and yourself from headaches. The right lighting can make a world of difference. Avoid fluorescents and LEDs, as they can be hard on your eyes, especially when combined with a computer screen.

Creating a home office space will give you a more businesslike environment, but that alone is not enough. Even with a proper office, you may have issues getting your mind into ‘work mode’.

Getting Into...and Out of ‘Work Mode’

When working in an office, work mode starts as soon as you walk through the doors, or even as soon as you pull into the parking lot. It gets you in the mindset of being productive and focused on the tasks of the day. But when you’re working from home, how can you tap into that same state of mind?

Structure Your Day

Keeping your schedule as structured and standard as possible will help to keep you on track. Even though you’re not at the office, make a schedule and stick to it, just like you did at work. Put your alarm on, wake up on time, and get dressed. I agree that staying in your pajamas all day is comfortable, but it can prevent you from tapping into work mode.

Develop a Routine

Start working at the same time every day, and take your lunch at the same time. If you’re going to work through lunch, it will help to have it prepared the night before. If you’re taking a lunch, enjoy a break just like you would at the office. But when lunch is done, it’s back to work.

Take Time to Decompress

Just as importantly as getting into the productive mindset, is getting out of it. One common complaint from people working from home is not knowing when they should stop working. The answer is simple: when you usually stopped. If you only stayed in the office until five, that’s when you stop working now. Do not, and I repeat, do not check your email at eleven o’clock at night. Pick a time to be done.

Shut Down Your Computer

Once your day is over, turn off your computer. Everything will be there in the morning, and the last thing you need to do is overwork yourself. You need to detach your mind from work at some point. If you need help getting out of your work mind, do things to unwind or distance yourself from the day: take a shower, watch your favorite TV show or movie, read a book—anything that helps you relax.

Structure is key to keep focused and productive, but balance is the key to keeping your stress low. Your home has been a safe haven and a place to unwind, and you need to remember to keep it that way when you’re done with work.

Help.  I’m Stressed Out of my Mind.

Take a breath. One of the best things about working from home is the ability to take a moment to release your stress. Need to yell, laugh, or rant it out? Go for it. Get out of your chair for a second, walk around your house or take a five minute walk outside.

If you have someone at home you love, chat with them or give them a hug. Spend time with a pet, take a moment to breathe, pray, or meditate. Being home gives you access to ample ways to relieve the stress that piles up during the day. So while you’re home, take advantage of it.

Should I Tell My Clients What Has Changed?

Given the world’s current situation, I would. Many businesses are either closing down or transitioning to working remotely, so your clients won’t find it odd or off-putting if you admit that you’re still open and working from home. Just remember to keep it professional.

Ensure That Your Clients are Updated and Informed

In addition to updates on your clients’ projects, you may want to send along information on what your business is doing to help protect your team and your clients from COVID-19. Letting others know that you’re doing your part—no matter what that entails—will go a long way in conveying a sense of responsibility and reliability for you and your business.

The easiest way to accomplish this is through email. If you already have a list of your clients and automatic emails set up, fantastic! All you have to do is create a new message informing your contacts of any changes and crucial updates that may affect them. If not, there are plenty of free tools available to help you start an email campaign, such as MailerLite.

Let your clients know that you are still working through these times, and that you will continue to offer support. If you wish, you may also take this time to offer your assistance to small businesses, or a special deal to those who may need a little extra help.