Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Stay Motivated at Work While Working From Home

How to Stay Motivated at Work While Working From Home

Working from home initially sounds like a great idea—no commute and no more stuffy suits or ties. Those loud co-workers and other office distractions have suddenly disappeared. The problem is that the excitement and novelty of working remotely will fade away, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time. To continue to be productive, you must learn how to stay motivated at work when your home has become your new office.

Failing to find that critical motivation can lead to procrastination, decreased productivity, and mental distress. Here are some useful tips on how to stay motivated so you can be happy, healthy, and productive while working from home.

1. Set Up Your Home Office

If at all possible, create your workspace in a room that has a door you can close so you have more privacy. Make sure you have some good home office equipment. At a minimum, get a high-quality chair, one or more monitors, a laptop stand and a good desk. An ergonomic keyboard and good mouse will also come in handy.

Set up your workstation correctly. It must be ergonomically correct to reduce strain on your neck, shoulders, back, and other body parts, especially since you’ll probably be working for hours straight. You can set up your workstation in certain ways that will help you increase productivity at work.

2. Practice the Art of Decluttering

In an article from The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that people were less productive when they were exposed to excessive clutter.[1] They had a harder time focusing and processing information.

Declutter Your Home Office

Declutter your home office by getting rid of paper, trash, stationery items, cups, and other unnecessary things. This will make it way easier for you to find the things you need while working

Practice minimalism. Make sure your workspace only has the essential things you need to do your job.

Reduce Digital Clutter

Clutter does not only refer to physical things, unorganized files and software in your computer can also be considered as clutter—i.e. digital clutter. Getting rid of digital clutter on your work computer can help you work more productively.

Here are some things you can do to reduce digital clutter:

  • Do you have 120 documents on your desktop? Organize them in folders.
  • Put miscategorized documents in the proper folders.
  • Delete non-essential files and folders that are taking up space.
  • Clean up your work e-mail. Go through your e-mail inbox and archive important e-mails. Delete unnecessary e-mails.

3. Create a Morning Routine

Having a morning routine is a great way to get motivated in life. It sets a positive tone for your entire day and helps you stay motivated at work. It’s an organized, repeatable process that will get you in the habit of starting each day strong and ready to tackle the world.

Get Up Early

Make sure you get up early. I normally had a 50-minute commute. After working remotely, I had more time so I started getting up a little later—and then, just a “little” later. I had to quickly break this habit because I noticed I wasn’t as productive as I was when I got up early.

Studies have shown that people who get up earlier are actually more proactive than those who get up later.[2] So, if you want to start your day positively, getting up early is the first step.


Wake Your Body Up

Getting up early is different from waking your body up. You may wake up early mentally, but your body may still feel like sleeping. Jumpstart your day by waking your body up early in the morning. I like to start the day by opening the blinds and then jumping in the shower.

Walking around the block a few times is a fantastic way to get the blood in your body flowing and muscles moving. I try to walk in the morning at least three times during my work weeks. Another good way to prep your body for a busy day is to stretch or do yoga for 5 to 10 minutes.

Have Breakfast

Having breakfast is important. Unless you’re fasting, your body will reward you for putting good, healthy nutrients into it when you get up in the morning. High-fiber cereal, smoothies, and juice are nutritious options that will give you the fuel you need to begin your day. Drinking coffee, tea, or water is fine, too.

Explore Other Routines

Everyone has a different morning routine. You can start developing your own routine to have a great morning and do what best fits your lifestyle. What’s most important is that your routine should energize and prepare you for the workday.

4. Wear the Right Clothes

There’s a reason we wear different outfits for different occasions and activities.

Clothes have a strong psychological effect on our motivation and ability to work. Dressing too casually can actually make us less focused and alert according to Dr. Karen Pine, a fashion psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.

According to professor Pine,[3]

“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”

I can definitely relate to this. When I worked from home in shorts and a t-shirt, I felt less motivated. I felt like I should be relaxing, watching TV, or doing things other than work. But when I began wearing jeans and one of my normal work shirts, I instantly felt more motivated. I felt like I “should” be working.

A good rule of thumb is to wear the types of clothing you usually wear for work. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but try to dress the way you normally would as closely as possible.

5. Make a Schedule

Creating a schedule that contains a list of prioritized tasks is a great way to optimize your time. Additionally, it can also help you stay motivated at work.

Not having a prioritized list of what you need to do each workday can result in procrastination, disorganization, wrong prioritization, and an overall decrease in productivity.


Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can create a daily schedule:

  1. Each morning, document what you must get done that day. You can also create the schedule the evening before the next day.
  2. Create the list of tasks chronologically (from the first task in the morning to the last task at the end of the day).
  3. Break larger tasks down into smaller steps.
  4. Put a star or other identifying mark next to tasks that have the highest priority.

Some apps can help you schedule tasks, but you can also use Microsoft Excel or Word to create your schedule.

6. Know Your Peak Energy and Slump Times

Each of us has different energy levels at different times of the day. No one is energetic and motivated all the time at work. Know when you have the most energy and when your energy levels tend to be lower. This will help you optimize your daily schedule and maximize productivity.

Do the most difficult tasks when your energy levels are at their peak. Do the simpler, less demanding things when your energy levels are lower.

7. Reward Yourself

Rewards are some of the best motivators. Knowing that we have something to look forward to boosts our mental and physical energy levels.

Always reward yourself after completing a certain number of tasks or finishing an entire day of hard work. There are many different ways to reward yourself, such as taking a coffee break, watching a TV show, listening to a podcast, eating something you like, or visiting one of your favorite websites.

Just make sure that the rewards are big enough to keep you motivated but not too big that it becomes distracting.

It can be easy to watch two YouTube videos, then two more, and then two more! Later, you’ll discover that you’ve spent an hour online already and haven’t done your work yet.

This is why schedules are so important, especially if you’re prone to get distracted or sometimes struggle with time management.

8. Get Enough Sleep

Be sure to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. When we’re sleep-deprived, our mental and physical energy is quickly sapped. We lose motivation, vitality, and productivity.

When we are sleep-deprived, even simple things become difficult. It’s critical that you get the proper rest. Without it, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

9. Take Regular Breaks

Working remotely oftentimes frees us from the normal office distractions, but this hyper-focused environment can also make us work too long without stopping.


Have you ever worked without taking breaks and felt drained? Have you experienced muscle and joint pain after working too long without breaks? Not taking regular breaks can cause muscle and joint problems and even cause repetitive strain injuries.

Taking regular breaks boosts our energy and vitality, increases our motivation, improves our focus, and makes us more productive. Get in the habit of taking a 5 to 7-minute break every hour.

Get up and do something that allows you to mentally and physically disconnect from your work. Take a quick walk, stretch, go to the kitchen, and make a healthy snack or drink, or spend some time with your pet. Watch a short video, listen to a podcast, call a friend, meditate, or plan out some fun activities. Make sure you take those breaks consistently each workday.

10. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is something that all of us need to do. Why is this important?

Think about those times when you were working while you were physically tired, mentally exhausted, or in a bad mental state. Every hour feels like two hours. Things that were normally easy started to require a lot of effort, and it felt harder to stay focused.

Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to increase our energy, lower our blood pressure, help control our weight, and strengthen our immune system. It also decreases stress, increases our confidence, helps us sleep better, decreases depression and anxiety, and improves blood flow to our brains.

As adults, we generally need 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week as well as muscle-strengthening exercises.[4] There are many ways to do this. Join a local gym or cross-fit center, engage in outdoor activities, or join a physically active group. You can also create a gym in your own home.

Creating a highly-effective and low-cost home gym is very simple. I recently converted my garage into a home gym. I bought a good set of resistance bands and a yoga mat, and I regularly watch different high-intensity interval training (HIIT) YouTube videos to switch things up.

Many people say they don’t have time to exercise. But now that you’re not commuting, you have more time to do other things. Use this extra time to exercise regularly. It will greatly improve your body and mind. And you can have fun while you’re at it.

11. Make Sure You Love Your Job

This is the most important tip on how to stay motivated at work—make sure you love your job. It’s extremely hard to stay motivated when you don’t enjoy what you are doing.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 34% of Americans are engaged at work.[5] This is a paradox of life: most people spend far too much time doing the things they don’t like and not doing enough of the things they say they love.

When you love what you do, you feel energized. You’re more creative, and you’re more inspired to go all in and do your best work.


Here’s some sage advice about the importance of doing something you love from Steve Jobs:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

How do you know when you’ve found a job you love?

  • You’re using your natural gifts, strengths, and talents.
  • It’s aligned with your core values.
  • When you do it, time will fly by. You can do it for long periods of time and feel energized – not drained.
  • You enjoy it so much that you’re excited to get out of bed in the morning to do it.

If you’re not doing what you love now, take Steve Job’s advice and keep looking. Don’t settle.

12. Develop a Positive Mindset

If you can’t change the fact that you’re working remotely, change how you view the situation. Yes, there’s more isolation, you don’t have a structured office environment, and you may have to go through an adjustment period. However, you can change your perspective towards these into a positive one.

Develop a positive mindset so you can appreciate the benefits of your new situation. You don’t have to commute. You’re saving money on gas and wear and tear on your car. Also, you don’t have to worry about parking fees or bridge tolls anymore.

You don’t have the normal office distractions. You have more time to be laser-focused on what you’re doing without having to worry about being interrupted.

It’s an opportunity to unleash more of your creativity. You have control of your environment: the temperature, lighting, food, and your schedule.

John Wooden explains why having a positive mindset is important:

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.


Remote work is the new normal for many people, especially now that COVID-19 has stopped tens of millions of people from performing their work duties in offices.

A study done by 451 Research revealed that 67% of businesses that implemented or expanded work from home policies because of COVID-19 believe these policies will stay in place permanently or for a long time.[6]

Once you master these tips on how to stay motivated at work, you’ll find that working from home can be fun, fulfilling, and highly productive. It can also be an opportunity for you to do your best work in the comfort of your own home.

More Tips on How to Stay Motivated at Work

Featured photo credit: Corinne Kutz via


More by this author

Charles Amemiya

Speaker, life/business coach, social responsibility advocate and technical writer.

How to Stay Motivated at Work While Working From Home

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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.


2. Show Compassion

If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

3. Communicate Regularly

Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

4. Ask for Feedback

Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.


How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

You Can Find Good Help

It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.


You Pull Together as a Team

Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.


Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

Your Career Shines Bright

Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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[1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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