Motivation Tips for Working From Home

Most people who don’t regularly work from home imagine it to be very different from the reality. They wax lyrical about how wonderful it must be not to wear a bra all day, to wake up at 8.55 in order to log on at 9 and to take regular breaks to check in with Holly & Phil. And whilst, I won’t lie, these are undoubtedly just a few of the advantages, working from home is fraught with potential hazards too.

First and foremost, there’s the distractions. Whether it’s putting on a quick load of washing or being unable to resist the urge to cuddle your cat, working from home can feel like trying to run a distraction gauntlet. Then there’s the isolation – Sometimes, the only person you speak to during an entire day is the guy behind the counter in your local corner shop and you realise all the words have fallen out of your brain and you’re only capable of communicating using a series of grunts.

One of the biggest challenges, however, is motivation. There are the days when your creative juices are well and truly flowing and you don’t even notice the changing light outside as the sun sets and the moon rises because you’re so consumed with work. Then there are the days when you could really do with a team to give you a metaphorical kick up the bum, or an office to provide a pleasingly business-like environment to focus your energy because you Just. Cannot. Be. Frigged.

So, now the entire nation is working from their sofa/kitchen table, it’s a good time to think about how we can tune into and harness our motivation.

In normal times, we don’t tend to think about what motivates us. The world provides goals for us to aspire to– whether it’s earning money above and beyond what we need to survive, buying mountains of stuff, making ourselves as resemble society’s narrow beauty paradigms or getting followers on social media. But, as any celebrity will tell you, achieving these goals never made anyone genuinely happy.

People who are fulfilled and content understand their inner drive – The thing that really puts fire in their belly. Whatever their inner drive happens to be, the most successful people in the world are, in my opinion, those who have been able to make their lifestyle match and honour their driving force.

Okay, most of us still need to work to put money in the bank and food on the table during quarantine, but we probably have a bit more time on our hands than usual, too. Think about what you’d be doing right now in your more usual life. Is whatever it is something that makes you feel energised and passionate? Something you’d choose to do for free? If the answer to that is ‘no’, the chances are you’re not tuning into what motivates you.

The commonest driving forces are:

  • Making a difference – People who want to make a positive impact on the world and leave a legacy. Think teachers and NHS workers.
  • Socialising and Community – If you love reality TV and gossiping, the chances are you’re motivated by connecting with others and hearing their stories.
  • Freedom/Independence – If you’re the sort of person who loves nothing more than landing in a foreign place with the equivalent of a tenner in your back pocket and only the clothes on your back, ready for adventure, this is you.
  • Fairness/Justice – There’s a lot of injustice about and if it makes you incandescent with white-hot rage, you can harness that motivation to change the world. Just look at Malala Yousafzai, or Greta Thunberg.
  • Competition – This must be for its own sake. So not as in ‘I like her handbag I must have one’ but more along the lines of ‘I want to beat my own personal best’. Think Monica from Friends.

Taking a little time to work out what your driving force is not only invaluable for making big life decisions, or identifying where you might need to make changes, it also helps to make whatever you’re already doing seem more appealing. You can make yourself want to do literally anything if you can make it relevant to your motivation. As Mary Poppins would say ‘SNAP! The job’s a game!’ For example –

  • ‘Doing this spreadsheet is improving my understanding of how exchange rates work, which will come in really handy when I go on my next travelling adventure’.
  • ‘I wonder if I can process this invoice faster than the last one?’
  • ‘This isn’t technically in my job spec, but I’m helping out Grace, who is a single Mum and she is really struggling right now.’
  • ‘I have to practice this presentation, I’ll phone a friend who does a completely different job. If I can make them understand what I’m on about, it means I’m being really clear’.

So, whilst the world around us is descending into chaos, we can use this time to emerge with a better understanding of ourselves. That’s got to be better than drinking gin in the daytime whilst hiding in the shed.

Adapted from the Driving Force section of Natasha’s forthcoming book ‘Yes You Can: Ace Your Exams Without Losing Your Mind’. Pre Order here:,natasha-devon-9781529020731