How to work from home: 10 strategies to stay motivated

Celine Walton's transition to working from home

By Celine Walton, human resources wellness coordinator

Celine WaltonMany of you, like me, may be wondering what day of the week it is? What week of the “remote work era” are we on? We’re on week three of working from home. What an interesting, challenging transition, but there will be an end!

Many companies shared information on how to transition to working from home, but few mentioned the reality that we are still around our families: children, spouses/partners, and pets. For some it’s an easier transition than for others. For me, I am struggling with a toddler who is clingy, a dog who cannot wait for our normal routines to resume, and a spouse who is spinning around much like I am.

We’ve been out to enjoy the sunshine and birds chirping, but social distancing still remains in place and our tasks still need to get done. Somehow, we manage to keep going forward, surviving, and juggling all our tasks between home and work.

I pooled together some resources and created one list below. I found a lot of these things helpful and hope that you can share your favorite tip as well. If you have another tip, feel free to contact me at I would like to feature your ideas in an upcoming column.

Finding the motivation and the ways to be successful working from home

  1. Get organized.  Make a list of 3-4 things that need to get completed each day.  Utilize Pomodoro Technique to help you stay on task. Try to avoid multitasking.  This technique has been pivotal for me. I have so many “hats,” as I’ve always called them, that I have to juggle. The Pomodoro Technique is a wonderful way to keep you on task and awards you when you’ve completed each round of the Pomodoro.
  2. Stick to your usual schedule of getting up, getting dressed, having breakfasts, etc. I cannot stress this tip enough. This freshens your mindset and restarts your day. I had a commute to work and still wake up at the same time and use the alone time to regroup.  Am I always successful? No, because I have a toddler who woke up at 6 a.m. today, so there is that fun moment.
  3. Much like the Pomodoro Technique encourages, take breaks. Allow yourself to get up and move around at least three times in the morning and three times in the afternoon for five or so minutes. Think about it: We’re not sitting at our desk all eight hours of the workday in the office.  We get up, move, get water, take breaks, etc. Do the same while you’re at home. You may need to be sneaky about your breaks so your toddler or pet doesn’t see you leaving your “office.”  I made that mistake one time and thus ensued a full-on tantrum. Having a toddler certainly teaches you ways to be sneaky.
  4. Have a dedicated office space.  If you are able to, put your office in another room away from everything and everybody, like in a guest room, loft, or basement. I’d love to get a rolling list of everyone’s new home office setup. We will share your setups on our Instagram account: @Miami_Employee_Wellness.  
  5. Set up your work space to be pleasing to the eye if you’re using a video conferencing application. Avoid the camera picking up chaos in the background such as clutter, an unmade bed, people moving around, etc.  It is distracting to not only the person in the room, but to others who are watching you. I encourage you to use the mute button when you need to.  The other day while I was video conferencing with our team, my toddler threw a major tantrum because I was not done working yet and her “mom & me time” bucket was not filled.  So, I had to mute that. I hope our team forgives me for ignoring them…? I’m sure they do.
  6. Practice the 20-20-20 rule.  Sadly, working from home means utilizing the computer screen even more in some cases.  We need to give our eyes a break. Every 20 minutes, look at something that’s at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.  We all decorated our own homes, so I am sure we have something pretty to look at least 20 feet away. Mine is a window, thankfully. Even better would be to get up and walk away from the screen.
  7. Set expectations with family.  Communicate about your schedule with your spouse/adults in the house and let children know when you are unavailable. Use the door and put a sign on it to remind them you’re busy.  If you have younger children, encourage your team to set up calls around their nap times. This has been a tough transition for me. I have had to be consistent and constantly remind my toddler that mom has to work and get on conference calls.  Then if she’s good, I plan for lunch or snack time together. I still have to attend to her while I’m home because she knows I’m home. This is a change for her as well. Every day I share with my husband what my schedule is like, and it helps all of us be on the same page.
  8. During your lunch break, go outside and breathe fresh air. Yes, even if it’s raining. This helps reset your brain and eyes and gives you fresh oxygen in your lungs.  This is so important for our mental well-being. Fresh air and nature are powerful remedies for many stressful times.
  9. At the end of the workday, allow the same transition from work to home. Continue to keep work at work and home at home. This helps to clear your mind of the work you did during the day and give yourself the chance to unwind as you transition back to your home life (just a few short feet away). This can be working a puzzle, listening to music, playing a game, or being physically active (check out our amazing resources guide of FREE physical activities).  I am usually running to the fridge and preparing a snack to keep the "hanger” attitudes within my family at bay, my dog included. It’s my happy place.
  10. Be kind, be forgiving, and, above all, laugh! This goes for all employees, no matter your title. This is a very uncertain and strange time. We are all trying to do our best to adjust, trying to figure out the logistics and the crazy-fast ways our technology has taken over our lives.  Always try to find some way to laugh. Perspectives offer two sides: the good and the bad. Every one of us can control which side we choose to look at. Above all, I thoroughly enjoy beginning and ending my day with comedy. I love memes, listening to my husband tell the best dad jokes and watching “Friends” (A plug here for the 2020 HawkWalk@Home April 8-May 6, with a “Friends” theme).

Sources: white papers