Work From Home

Driven to distraction

Chores, children, pets and social media can make it difficult for work-from-home employees to stay motivated.

Working at home can be a blessing but only if you retain your focus on the job.

You’ve decided to spend the day working from home to get stuck into an urgent project. Without the two-hour round trip to the office and with no-one to distract you, there’ll be so much more time to get things done. Coffee in hand, you’re ready to go when your partner rings from work.

“Before you get started, could you just hang out the washing, walk the dog and pick up a few things from the supermarket?”

Errands completed, it’s back to the laptop. There’s a newsy email from an overseas friend, a quick survey to do and a favourite online retailer is having a massive sale. Order submitted and Facebook checked, it’s 12.15 – time for lunch!

Okay, if you work hard this afternoon you should still get the job done. The phone rings again. Matilda is feeling unwell at kindy and needs to be looked after at home for the rest of the day.

With a high percentage of Kiwis preferring to work from home than turn up at the office on a daily basis, motivation and self-discipline are becoming increasingly important issues, says recruitment specialist Randstad NZ’s country manager, Brien Keegan.

Randstad’s 2016 Employer Brand research found that most of us (69.5 per cent) would rather work from home for at least part of the week than commute daily to a physical workplace, but this can bring challenges, says Keegan.

“Distractions such as chores, children, pets and social media can make it difficult for employees to stay motivated and focused on their paid job when working from home,” he says.

“Motivation is often easier when you’re in your organisation’s physical workplace – the boss is in close proximity, external distractions are reduced, and regular interaction with your manager and colleagues means you are less inclined to procrastinate. For telecommuting to be successful, employees will need to earn their manager’s trust by showing they can be motivated to complete work effectively and productively from home.”

Randstad has put together seven self-motivation tips for home-based workers to ensure they can become doers, not procrastinators.

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Write a to-do list

When tasks start stacking up, prioritise them with a to-do list. You might want to write or type the list out twice — first as a stream of consciousness and then organised in order of importance. Free programs such as Google Keep or Evernote are a great way to manage and keep track of your to-do list.

Switch off email reminders

Emails are a constant distraction – research shows that on average, people check their email inboxes 30 times an hour and spend nearly three hours a day responding to emails. In the middle of a deadline or important task, switch off your inbox and reminders so you can focus.


A cluttered desk and working environment can be a symptom of a disorganised mind and can severely demotivate you. Set aside time to regularly delete or file emails and spring-clean your desk — a streamlined environment will save you time in the long run.

Clear your brain

No one can concentrate for hours on end without a break. In fact, research shows the average human attention span is eight seconds. To remain focused, take a moment to stand up, do a few stretches or walk outside in the fresh air. Regular screen breaks are also vital for productivity and will re-energise you.

Build your personal network

Get in touch with colleagues who are self-motivated and productive, and find out what they do. Find someone who is encouraging and supportive, and learn from them by asking questions, navigating your way through their internal communication channels, and following their suggestions.

Get inspired

Surround yourself with inspirational quotes, people and ideas. Sign up to relevant networking groups and newsletters so you can “absorb inspiration”‘ every day. For long-term Motivation, outline your one-, five- and 10-year career goals and keep the list close by. This will serve as a reminder of what you want to achieve.

Focus on your goal

Regardless of the task you’re working on, you should have a clear sense of what success or achievement of that goal looks like. Plan how you will get there and work diligently until you do, understanding the need for flexibility along the way. If you’re a visual person, create a vision board for your work and personal goals. That way you can see where you’ll be travelling on your next holiday or the new bike you’ll buy when you reach that milestone – it will help you remember why you’re there.

- NZ Herald