7 Proven Ways To Stay Motivated When Working From Home As A Marketer (Or Anything Else!)
Digital marketing lends itself well to telecommuting, but not everyone finds it easy to work from home. Columnist Steve Olenski shares his tips for staying on track.
As many marketing consultants and freelancers know, there’s nothing like working from home. The flexibility and autonomy can’t be beat (not to mention being the envy of all your friends). But, is working from home all it’s cracked up to be?
According to a meta-analysis of telecommuting research done at Penn State, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.
[blockquote]Telecommuting has a clear upside: small but favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent and stress. […] Contrary to expectations in both academic and practitioner literatures, telecommuting has no straightforward, damaging effects on the quality of workplace relationships or perceived career prospects.[/blockquote]
Working from home isn’t without its problems, however. Not being accountable to a boss or co-workers every minute of the day is great, but at the same time requires the sometimes super-human ability to stay motivated and on task.
This post will look at strategies you can implement in order to stay focused, motivated, and productive when working from home.
Networking is important for anyone working in the industry, and even more so for at-home workers. You have likely heard the African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.
There are many networks events available to digital marketers, from large-scale conferences (like SMX) to local meetups. You can use platforms like Meetup.com to find — or even organize your own — local networking events. If organized networking events aren’t up your alley, consider forming your own personal support network by getting together regularly with other marketers or telecommuters you already know.
Being part of a group of individuals who understand the challenges of our industry — or of working from home — will help sustain you when you start losing motivation.
2. Get Dressed
You’ve heard the saying, “dress for success,” but does it apply when you work from home? Does what you wear actually impact your daily motivation and productivity? Research published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests it may.
Researchers asked participants to don a white lab coat, then instructed them to complete a series of tasks. Some participants were told that the coat was a painter’s cloak, while others were told it was a doctor’s or lab tech’s coat.
The results? Those told that the article of clothing was a doctor’s or lab tech’s coat exhibited increased attention and care when completing a task.
You may have experienced this phenomenon — which they refer to as “enclothed cognition” — yourself. How do you feel when you hop on a conference call in your PJs, as compared to a 3-piece suit? In order to keep your motivation levels up, make sure to dress in a way that gives you confidence and keeps you feeling your best.
3. Have A Separate Office Space
Having a dedicated work space is important not only for maintaining a healthy work/life balance, but for staying on task. When you work from home, there are myriad possible interruptions.
Many of them are good interruptions — a phone call from a friend or the dog wanting to play may be welcome — but they’re disruptions nonetheless.
Set up a dedicated area where you’ll do the majority of your work. It doesn’t have to be a separate room, but it should be a place that’s free from distractions. If possible, work close to a window to take advantage of natural light. Some research suggests regular exposure to daylight (as opposed to fluorescent lighting) can lead to increased work satisfaction, productivity, and well-being.
4. Have A Career Mentor
Networking is great, but it does have its limitations. While networking is a give-and-take endeavor, having a career mentor means having your own professional encourager and cheerleader.
Having a career mentor is one of the habits of the very rich, but having a mentor can also help keep you motivated and encouraged when working from home becomes a drag.
One of the downsides of working from home is not having colleagues to bounce ideas off of. Having a mentor can minimize this challenge by giving you regular access to encouragement and support.
5. Exercise During The Work Day
Research shows that people who exercise during the workday are more productive than those who don’t. This is significant: you can actually use work time to exercise, and still achieve the same — or higher — levels of productivity.
According to Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz, the researcher behind the research study, there are likely several reasons for this:
This increased productivity comes, on the one hand, from people getting more done during the hours they are at work, perhaps because of increased stamina and, on the other hand, from less absenteeism owing to sickness.
Other research seems to suggest that exercising in the morning can actually improve productivity, performance and mood throughout the entire day. The study showed multiple improvements following exercise:
Critically, workers performed significantly better on exercise days and across all three areas we measured, known as mental-interpersonal, output and time demands.
Working from home can mean decreased movement and mobility, so building in time for exercise is key. Incorporate it into your morning routine for optimal, all-day benefits!
6. Have A Schedule
While flexibility is one of the best aspects of working from home, it can also undermine your efforts to stay productive and leave you feeling out of control.
Having a set schedule can help you avoid this issue. Have a plan in place for how you’ll spend your days, including building in set break times.
I personally forget to eat all the time. Getting set to an eating schedule has helped, as well. Once a week, I have Grubmarket deliver fresh ingredients to my home for cooking. I also use Fluc to deliver lunch every day. Using both of these services has helped me eat healthy, be on a set schedule, and actually eat.
7. Know How You’re Spending Your Time
It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re not accountable to co-workers. No one sees how many times you check Facebook, watch a YouTube video, or chat on the phone with your significant other. And when you work alone, even you may not know how much these activities eat into your work time.
Using a tool like RescueTime can help. Running in the background on your computer and phone, the software will track exactly how much time you spend on a variety of tasks. It will even tell you how much time you spend on say, social networking sites versus word processing programs.
Think of RescueTime as your own personal accountability tool. Know exactly how much time you’re spending (read: wasting) on various activities so you can stay productive and on task when working alone.
Working from home is great for digital marketers, but isn’t without its challenges. Knowing how to stay motivated and on task is key to long-term work-at-home success. How do you stay motivated when working from home? Share below!