Finding the motivation to work can be tough when you’re at home on your own. There’s no one with you to drive you forwards and help you find solutions to problems you encounter.
But it’s not a lost cause. Just as motivation can be lost it can also be regained — and there are a few simple ways to get it back.
From starting with a sensible plan to keeping in touch with people, this is how to stay motivated when you’re home alone.
Start by creating a sensible plan
Feeling helpless is one of the biggest hindrances to motivation. If you feel like you’re not in control of a situation then it’s natural to lack the commitment you need to address it. Why? Because you’ll feel as though nothing you do will make a difference.
Having a plan helps you to feel in control, making it an excellent motivational tool.
We recommend you start each day by making a work schedule — taking the tasks you need to complete, assigning time slots for them and listing them in order of when you aim to complete them. These are all things you can do with time tracking software, such as HourStack.
HourStack is a great way of planning your day because it allows you to create blocks for your time. You assign a project and a label to each task, so you know what the work is and what it’s going towards. You can then organise these by priorities.
HourStack comes with a 14-day free trial, after which there are three price plans — personal, professional and enterprise. Try it today to see how it makes it simpler to plan your time and get the motivation you need when you’re stuck at home alone.
Start with the small wins
Mark Twain once said “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.
While there’s real logic to what Twain says (starting with your toughest task means you’ll be able to tackle whatever else the day can throw at you), we’re saying it’s a greater motivational tool to do exactly the opposite. How? By starting with the small wins.
Few things are more demotivating than feeling like you’re not making progress. That’s exactly what can happen when you start with your hardest job, particularly when you may still be waiting to get the full-effects of your morning coffee.
Beginning with a few small, simple wins gives you a sense of accomplishment. This is important because feeling like you’ve achieved something will give you the motivation to push on and tackle your harder tasks.
You can tie this planning into your body’s natural motivation by organising your day so that you reach your more complex jobs at the best time for your chronotype.
A chronotype is the “behavioral manifestation of underlying circadian rhythms of myriad physical processes”. In short, it’s your body clock. This means it’s not only the times you should sleep and how long for, but also the times when you’re at your most motivated.
According to sleep doctor Michael Breus, there are four chronotypes: bear, lion, wolf and dolphin. You can find out which one you are by taking this free chronotype test. Give it a go now, find out your animal and then prime your schedule so you’ve completed your small wins at the time when your body is at its most motivated.
Have a task cut-off point (then ask for help)
You never pick up a task with the aim of dropping it, but sometimes your best intentions go awry — you start a job and then find you simply don’t know how to complete it. This is incredibly frustrating and demotivating.
You can solve this problem by having a cut-off point for your tasks.
We’re not talking about a time when you stop working on a project and leave it for dead, never to be returned to. What we’re suggesting is you stop and then seek help, so you know how the job can move forwards.
It might sound like a cop out but it’s just accepting that you don’t know and can’t do everything (no one can).
This works as a motivational tool because it means you don’t feel helpless, and won’t go ploughing ahead with a task when deep down you know you can’t complete it and are just wasting time by trying.
It’s difficult to know exactly what your cut-off point will be, as this will depend on how long the task should take to complete. Ten minutes is often a good rule to work to, as this should give you enough time to get to grips with what’s being asked of you and understand if you can achieve this.
So, set yourself a timer for ten minutes when you begin a task. Once you reach this point then ask yourself if you understand what you need to do to complete it. If you do, then crack on with your work. If you don’t, then drop someone a message, email or line and see how they suggest you move forwards.
Keep in touch with people digitally
One of the biggest drains on your motivation when you’re stuck at home alone is that you’re, well, on your own. Without people around to drive you forwards, it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re doing things in the first place. This can see your motivation drop and procrastination take its place.
This is exactly why you should keep in touch with people digitally throughout the day. Speaking to friends, family and colleagues makes you feel like you’re not alone, even when there’s no one else physically around to chat to and give you a boost when you need it.
This is vital because we all have dips (even during our best days), and it’s simply not possible to keep going at the same pace for a whole day.
There are so many ways you can keep in touch with people. There’s email, messaging platforms (such as Slack), video communication tools (like Zoom) and telephone. Any and all of these methods help you to connect and chat with your friends, family and colleagues.
We recommend you stay in contact in two ways.
Firstly, book a slot in your calendar. Pick a moment when you and the people you chat with have had some time to get some work done and have something to talk about. Secondly, drop people a line when you feel you need to — and let others know they can do the same for you. It’s comforting to know that there is a friendly voice or helping hand there when you need it.
Being at home by yourself might make you feel like you’re alone — and this can play havoc with your motivation.
Creating a sensible plan, starting with the small wins, having a cut-off point for your tasks and keeping in touch with people gives you the focus, control and support you need to ride through the tough times and get your motivation back.
So, the next time you’re stuck at home alone, remember our advice and your day will be much more productive.