Motivation 101: 4 Keys to Staying Motivated at Your Home Office

Keep yourself motivated in your home office. Credit: DNY59 | Getty Images

The world is now your workplace.

Technology is responsible for more and more companies offering a work-from-home option to employees — whose ability to do their job is unchanged regardless of location — and a lower bar for people hoping to start their own home businesses. It’s also made it easier than ever to throw on Netflix or get lost on Facebook when you should be working.

One of the biggest challenges in a home office, whether you’re the business owner or a teleworking employee, is fighting distractions.

With any hope for success, you’ve got to stay focused on the work at hand, and many leading researchers — like Kimberly Schaufenbuel, director of UNC’s Executive Development program — have pointed to motivation as the key to staying focused.

Easier said than done, though — right?

Well, based on Schaufenbuel’s research on motivation compiled in a recent blog post by online MBA program MBA@UNC, it doesn’t have to be hard. Here are four easy tips to boost your motivation and keep you on track with your work.

1. Reward Yourself

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” if you focus too much on your work without taking a moment to breathe and reward yourself, you too might put yourself on the path to breaking and losing all motivation.

Schaufenbuel says a drive to acquire — the pursuit of some short-term gratification — keeps workers motivated and hungry to accomplish.

Typical workplaces offer reward systems or incentives, and when working from home, you have the opportunity to create your own.

Take a snack break or a 10-minute walk around the block each time you finish an assignment. Maybe read the next chapter in that book you bought last weekend — but just one.

The delayed gratification will keep you focused throughout your task, yearning to finish and claim your prize for a job well done.

2. Meet and Greet

The home office can be a lonely place. If you’re one of only a few on a staff who don’t work from the main office every day, feeling disconnected is bound to happen. This lack of affiliation kills your drive to bond and be a part of something bigger than yourself — and in turn, your motivation plummets, says Schaufenbuel.

Instead of wallowing in loneliness, make an extra effort to connect with peers or colleagues you don’t see that often, ensuring you maintain a sense of belonging within your industry or workplace culture. Doing so can keep your motivation at peak levels.

3. Communicate and Collaborate

Being miles or more away from your colleagues, instead of just across the office, can make coordinating a project or working as a team seem like a daunting task. But with added communication and transparency, Schaufenbuel says virtual collaboration can be just as effective as it is in person.

With videoconferencing software and chat tools, your teammates are only the touch of a button away. Using such tools to collaborate makes it easy to communicate what you expect of each other — especially so you don’t step on each other’s toes and create a threatening work environment in which someone feels their responsibilities have been encroached upon.

The resulting culture of understanding, purpose, ownership, and support will keep you motivated by, rather than cautious of, your colleagues and ready to ask for their help at a moment’s notice.

4. Ask for Feedback

If you are in an office, you can bet your boss is going to let you know how you did on that last assignment. This might not be the case if you work remotely.

By stepping out of your comfort zone to ask for feedback from a manager or mentor, you’ll get one of two things: confidence that you’re doing your job well or confirmation that you’re not. Without that feedback, however, you can get lost wondering which it is. Either way, it spikes your motivation. People crave positive reinforcement, and receiving it only increases your drive for more, says Schaufenbuel.

On the other hand, we yearn to prove ourselves and learn from our mistakes.

Given the right type of constructive criticism, we’re motivated to make right on our missteps and grow in light of them.

Feedback is a key motivator, and either way, by asking for it, you’ll look like you care about your job, which your boss will love.