Working from home is strange. It’s strange for people adopting it out of necessity, and it’s strange for those that have been doing it for years. You get used to it over time, but it’s still a constant battle of determination versus distractions, a lack of socializing, and Zoom calls. If you’re feeling unmotivated working from home, you’re not alone — it happens to the best of us.
Fortunately, you can get past this motivational slump, glitchy video calls be damned. Let’s look at some common reasons for feeling unmotivated to work from home, and how you can get back to your motivated self!
8 reasons for feeling unmotivated to work from home
Feeling unmotivated or experiencing a lack of engagement isn’t uncommon in the workplace. In fact, even at its best in recent years engagement has only been at 34%. Surprisingly, this number was celebrated by many businesses. In any other realm, a 34% would be far from a positive.
But, we’re not here to talk about how poorly engagement is across the workforce. We’re here to fix your work from home slump! There are a number of reasons you can feel unmotivated working from home, but the following reasons are likely culprits.
1. You need a better workspace
A big part of traditional work’s identity is the setting — an office, warehouse, restaurant, retail establishment, and so on. Over time you grow to know this place as your workplace. It’s separate from home, so your mind knows it’s time to work when you’re in that place.
Working from home presents a unique challenge. You’re used to living at home. It’s your place of play, relaxation, family time, sleep, etc. If you don’t have the right environment for remote work your brain will likely struggle to kick into work mode. For example, if you’re laying in bed on your laptop, you’re going to have a rough time.
Carve a work identity out of a space in your home. Create a nice workspace in the corner of your room and put a partition up. Even better, if you have a spare room you can convert it into a home office that’s dedicated to work.
2. It’s time for a change of scenery
If you already have a nice workspace and you’re still feeling no motivation, it might be time to mix up your surroundings. After all, one huge perk of remote work is the ability to take your job with you.
If you always work from the same spot at your house, move to a new location. Try going to a quiet spot outside, even in your backyard. Some fresh air and sunshine can work wonders for your productivity.
If you’re not in the midst of a pandemic, consider going to a coffee shop for a change of scenery and some unlimited coffee. This can also be a great networking opportunity, as you’ll likely meet other people that are working remotely from the cafe. (I’ve actually made some great contacts this way!)
3. There are too many distractions
A whopping 65% of people claim to be more productive in a remote setting, largely due to the lack of office distractions. It might sound counterintuitive, as the workplace is meant to be a place of work. But, think about your experience in an office.
There’s Ashley at the front desk, who has to tell you about her son’s soccer game. Then you run into Jim in the hallway, who goes on and on about last night’s episode of some show. By the time you finally get to your desk your mind is nowhere near work and you’ve burned through 30 minutes. The traditional workplace can be very, very distracting.
But, this doesn’t mean your home office is distraction free, either.
Pay close attention to your work habits for the day and look for distractions. There are browser extensions that can help you see where you’re spending your time online. Use these extensions to see if you’re logging a little more Reddit or Facebook time than you thought. From there, you can take extreme measures and block those sites using additional browser extensions.
You can also check your phone activity log to see how much time you’re spending on your phone. If you’re on your phone too often, leave it across the room or silence it.
Even a brief distraction, like reading an email, can cost you nearly 25 minutes of productivity. The above measures might sound extreme, but in the long haul they can save you a world of trouble. (And lost productivity.)
4. There’s a root problem with your job
It’s possible your motivation isn’t related to your remote setting at all. If there’s a problem with your job, remote status is moot.
Take stock of your job and ask yourself if you’re happy. Are you dissatisfied in your current role? Is your manager the bane of your existence? Do you feel unappreciated and underpaid?
If you think you may have a job-related problem, not a remote-problem, come up with a plan. Sometimes a level-headed, cool conversation with your manager is all it takes to fix things. If that doesn’t seem likely, or if you have a chat and it doesn’t go well, maybe it’s time to find a job you can be truly passionate about.
5. A break is in order
If a walk around the block for an hour or a day off isn’t cutting it, it might be time for a vacation.
It’s not uncommon for remote workers to be overworked, In fact, 23% of remote workers work longer than they would in an office, and 52% are more prone to neglecting time off. This kind of behavior is a recipe for being overworked, sleep deprived, and a hot mess. If this sounds like you, put in for a day or two off and do something that rejuvenates you.
If your remote job allows flexible scheduling, think about splitting your day so you can take a break here and there. I’ve known numerous remote workers that have found great success by working a few hours, taking a few hours off, and then wrapping up their day later in the evening. Sometimes your brain just needs a siesta.
6. There’s a problem with your approach
Motivation and focus are tough. Motivation and focus for eight hours? That’s a battle many will lose. Studies have shown a vast majority of people aren’t productive for a full eight-hour day. Maybe it ‘s time you try a different approach with your work style.
Start your work style experimentation by chunking your day into small sprints using the Pomodoro technique. This entails working for 25-minutes straight, followed by a short break of a few minutes as a reward. This free timer will make the entire process easy to try.
Note: If you have a deep, knowledge-intensive project, this technique may not be the best approach. Longer stretches of focus can be more conducive to creativity and accomplishing deep work, making the Pomodoro technique a big no-no for these situations.
7. You’re needing exercise
A big benefit of working remotely is the freedom to move around. Exercise can help combat anxiety, stress, and even depression. Any of those ailments is enough to derail motivation and kill productivity, so get up and move!
Take a short walk of even 15-minutes and your stress levels can drop. Reducing stress can clear your head and help you approach work with more energy than before. These walks are also a great time to listen to a podcast, call a friend, or simply enjoy the sounds of the outdoors.
I’m also a big fan of cycling and think it’s a great idea to keep a compact exercise bike in your house. This allows you to get in a quick exercise without having to leave the house. As an added perk, you can catch up on some shows while riding!
8. You’re craving socialization
Zoom, Slack, Hangouts, and a slew of other tools have made it easier than ever to stay connected with teammates. But, it’s still tough to stay social when working remotely. People get busy and social interactions simply go to the wayside.
In a traditional workspace you pass people in the halls, see each other at lunch, and so on. This isn’t the case when you’re remote. When you’re remote it’s incredibly easy to get lost in your work and to forget about chatting with your team.
To ensure you get some social time in, set up a happy hour call with a coworker once every week or two. This is a great way to get to know your team and have fun while you’re at it. If you’re in a position of leadership at your company, consider implementing random buddy chats for your team every couple of weeks.
You can also pencil in some time each day to check in with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while. Or, take a break and go have lunch with your family in the living room. Whatever you do, make sure you’re getting a little bit of social time in. (If you want it, that is.)
9. There’s a mental health-related problem
Mental illness is incredibly common. Nearly 20% of Americans over the age of 18 have experienced some form of mental illness. But, it’s still something many struggle to think about, let alone talk about.
If nothing on this list is adding up and you truly feel you’ve lost your motivation, please reach out to a professional therapist. It’s possible you have an undiagnosed mental illness that’s preventing you from being motivated.
Don’t let the potential cost of therapy stop you from getting the help you need. Many health insurance companies offer free telephone therapy sessions. Reach out to your employer’s HR representative or call your insurance provider to see if you qualify for free tele-counseling.
MentalHealth.gov is also a great resource if you’re not sure where to start. Lastly, if you’re thinking suicidal thoughts or have considered ending your life, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately.
Feeling unmotivated working from home? Not up in here!
Motivation’s tough. Even when you’re experienced, happy, and loving your job, motivation can be difficult to pin down at times. If none of the above items sounds like your situation, don’t lose hope.
Take a step back, draw in a deep breath, and take stock. Oh, and don’t forget to let that breath out.
Talk to a friend, family, or even a coworker about what you’re experiencing. It’s possible many people in your position are also struggling to find motivation. Sometimes we just need to get it all out there before we feel whole again. So, find someone you trust and vent away.
Once you’ve found something that feels like it’s working, take note and hold onto it. There will come a day when you’re facing the motivation beast a second time. When that day comes, you’ll be ready to absolutely kick its ass, once more, with feeling.