How To Motivate Your Team in a Crisis

●  Put Your Best Thoughts Forward

●  Coach Support

●  Be Specific in Communication Motivation is no small thing.

It’s an achievement during the good times. During the hard times, it gets even harder. The COVID-19 crisis has tested what the best leaders have to offer. Some have been able to reroute and are now working virtually. Others are working on the front lines in person. Wherever and however you work, leadership matters.

Leadership is what keeps teams together in times of crisis. It’s how people overcome the odds. It’s how they achieve things they didn’t think were possible as a group.

The Effects on Business

COVID-19 has taken a toll on businesses of every size. Many are closing, but many will also weather this storm. For those who are open, business has been much slower than usual.

Confusion

One of the worst things that has come to businesses in the crisis is confusion. People don’t understand exactly how they will make it through this. Will the business be the same? How much will it have to adjust? Will things return to normal?

A Slowdown

For many people, business simply will not go back to normal. Things are slowing down. They will stay slow for a long time. It’s hard for employers to keep people on payroll. They have to make painful cuts.

Fear

A great many people are worried about their job security. The fear that they are experiencing can cause people to get stuck in a rut. Their sense of normalcy has been destroyed. They are distracted and worried. Their job performance can suffer.

What Leaders Can Do

Thought Is Power

Your ability to empower your team is directly related to how much thought leadership you can display. Bring your A-game every day when it comes to thought leadership. Your employees are relying on you for direction in action and attitude.

Make sure you send them in the right direction.

Be Honest

Honesty is brutally hard during times like this. It’s hard to deal with realities of lower income, layoffs, and performance issues. What you can be honest about without getting your team down is the true positives.

You might have to look hard. But celebrate the everyday victories. Remember that if you’re having a hard time, so are they. Tell the truth about the good things you see, and open their eyes.

Be Empathetic

Empathy is a prized characteristic. But we don’t always coach it in leaders. During times like this, you may have to brush off some skills you aren’t used to using.

People normally look to leadership to manage things. They know that leadership is looking for achievement. But when things get this bad for people’s health, they are looking for emotional intelligence as well. Realize that people are struggling.

When you show empathy, you are encouraging your team to have some as well. Act with character and kindness. You want your team to have a great example to learn from.

Coach Support

Help your team help themselves. Teams can get into downward spirals without leadership that coaches support. It’s important that your team members look out for one another.

Set a good example. But also reward when other people step up to the plate. A great coach notices people’s small achievements as well as their large ones.

Be the Best Communicator on the Team

You have the power to change your team’s communication style. Everything doesn’t have to be sugar and spice. Clear, concise, and actionable communication is also supportive of people’s well being. They are confused during this time. They can’t guess very much about what’s next.

When you lead with great communication, you make everyone’s job easier. They will have more energy to support and cheer each other on during this crisis. They will also have actionable steps to succeed with.

How To Stay Motivated, Productive and Creative During Isolation

  • Monotony leads to distress and distraction, so switch things up!
  • Creativity is a muscle that you need to work out — and rest.
  • Declutter your mental and physical space to keep a level head.

If you’ve been working from home for a while, you may have gotten into the swing of a new routine. Still, it can be hard to get into the right headspace when you’re disconnected from your coworkers. Isolation can sap your energy and harm your productivity.

How can you boost your motivation, check off your to-dos, and think up new ideas? It all comes down to a few simple shifts that help break your mind out of its rut and get moving again. Here are some basic strategies you can implement to help yourself stay on track, even when you’re working in isolation.

Mix up your routine

Many of us wake up, make coffee, and check our emails and social media before officially starting our work day. That routine may be comforting, but if you’ve been doing it for years — and now entirely from home — it can become a rut that drags us down. Try switching things around. Start your day with a workout or yoga session, then immediately dive into your work. Avoid email and social media until you’ve knocked out some of your time-intensive tasks. You’ll likely get more done and feel a little less stressed.

Tidy up your workspace

When we all first started working from home, we heard all about the importance of establishing a dedicated workspace. Now that we’ve been there a few weeks, it’s time to do a quick check: is your desk tidy and organized or a chaotic wreck? It’s easy to become a workaholic when you work from home, and that sometimes causes us to neglect our housekeeping. A clean, well-kept workspace allows us both mental and physical space for new ideas to emerge.

Get your creative juices flowing

Burnout is a real possibility for people who are working hard to stay afloat during the pandemic, especially for those who struggle to disengage from work at the end of the day. With burnout comes a decline in creativity and motivation. Ultimately, it’s important to take a break to resolve burnout, but if this isn’t an option, try a creative activity, such as a puzzle or a bit of creative writing, to recharge your creativity.

Wrapping Up

Of course, you should check in with your coworkers as often as possible. But let’s face it: you’re still working from home, alone, without the exciting buzz of your workspace. That’s why you need to invest in a little extra self-care to keep yourself balanced during periods of isolation. Plus, it’s helpful to switch up your normal routine and physical space so that you can feel fresh and energized. Devote a few minutes each day to tidy up, reflect, and just breathe. You’ll feel much more motivated to tackle the next thing.

Successful Entrepreneurs: Sam Walton

Nobody expected a country boy from rural America to surpass the CEOs of the department stores that peppered the nation. And yet, one did. Despite early supervisors’ remarks that he was not suited for retail, Sam Walton ended up not only becoming Forbes’ 1985 Wealthiest Man in America, but he also transformed retail forever.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

As a sales trainee at a J.C. Penney’s store in Des Moines, Iowa, young Walton loved working retail but found the emphasis on quotas and bookkeeping to be a distraction from his real passion: making sales.

After serving in the military, Walton returned to retail, this time as an investor-owner. With $5,000 of his savings and a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law, Walton bought a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. Newport, Arkansas. At the time, variety stores had meager offerings for rural Americans, who had to travel to metropolitan areas to make big purchases or get discounted goods.

Walton had an idea: What if he not only charged less for his products but also expanded the stores’ offerings to include what the department stores offered? His approach worked: Walton tripled the performance of the Ben Franklin store, making it the leading store in six states by 1950.

Unfortunately, Walton’s customers weren’t the only ones to notice his success. His landlord asked to purchase Walton’s business, and when Walton refused, he refused to renew his lease.

The Move to Bentonville

Not to be defeated, Walton picked up and moved across the state to Bentonville, where he opened his own store, Walton’s 5&10. He made sure that this new enterprise was located in the town square — and had a 99-year lease. Walton immediately rose in pop- ularity because he charged significantly less than the other variety stories in town.

Throughout the 1950s, Walton took out loans and reinvested profits so that he could acquire new stores. At each location, he low- ered the products’ prices to entice customers. By 1960, ten years after relocating to Bentonville, he had 15 stores to his name. Still, Walton wasn’t seeing the profits he needed to pay back his loans. Something needed to change.

Walton had a brilliant idea: He could combine the five-and-dime approach, popular in big cities, with the variety store model. He needed bigger stores with more products — all at a discount. Going back to his roots, Walton approached the company that fran- chised Ben Franklin stores for help. They were unwilling to accept the initial cuts in profit margins that Walton admitted would be necessary to make the model work.

So, Walton took out a mortgage on his home to put his idea into action. In 1962, he opened the nation’s first big-box store: Wal- Mart, located in Rogers, Arkansas. He was 44 years old.

The Wave of Walmart

Neither the variety store franchisers nor the major department store chains foresaw what happened next. Wal-Mart exploded in pop- ularity, quickly expanding to 18 locations throughout Arkansas and Missouri in just seven years. Finally ready to pay back his debts, Walton made the company public in 1970, and the company instantly generated $5 million. Walton and his family owned 61 percent of the company, ensuring that Walton could continue to bring his retail vision to life.

Walton didn’t stop there. He had a revolutionary approach to his employees, which he called “associates,” and gave them a lot of in- put on how to grow the company. In time, Walton expanded his big-box model to include grocery, automotive, and gardening sec- tions (Wal-Mart SuperCenter) and then launched a wholesale club for his fellow businesses (Sam’s Club).

In 1985, when Forbes named Walton the richest man in America. He had an estimated worth of $2.8 billion. And yet Walton stayed humble, continually looking to improve the Wal-Mart brand and bring value to all Americans.

A Lasting Legacy

On March 17, 1992, President George Bush presented Walton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing his entrepreneurial spirit and his devotion to his workers and customers. Just a few days later, Walton, who had been suffering from bone cancer, checked into the University of Arkansas Hospital. He passed away on April 5, 1992, at the age of 74.

In just 30 years, Walton had transformed the face of retail and created a brand with an enduring legacy. While big-box stores are now commonplace, they owe a lot to Walton’s vision.

Successful Entrepreneurs: Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is an inspiring example of a man who rose all the way to the top thanks to his hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. When you think ‘Mark Zuckerberg’, most likely your first association is ‘Facebook’, but there is a lot more to the story of the man behind the social media platform that changed our lives.

The Beginning

From a young age, it was clear that Mark had a penchant for creating computer programs. He built his first messenger, the ZuckNet, when he was only 12. With his parents’ support and encouragement, young Zuckerberg continued to devote most of his free time to his passion, and when he was still in high school, he created an intelligent media player he called Synapse.

Synapse caught the interest of Microsoft and AOL, who wanted to acquire the idea, but Mark refused. This point, I believe, is key to understanding the secret to his success. Independence and intellectual property ownership were more important to him than simply cashing out – a display of long-term strategical thinking not very typical for such a young man. 

Facebook

Mark’s triumphs continued at Harvard, where he soon earned the reputation of a brilliant software developer. The concept of Facebook was born during that time, and though other people had toyed with the idea of a social network just for Harvard students, Mark was the one who really took it to the next level, creating the early version of Facebook in 2004. It was wildly successful and soon moved beyond the stage of a student network, becoming available to the wider public. The rest is history.

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was given the Person of the Year title by Time magazine. He also became known as the youngest billionaire in the world. 

While there is undoubtedly an element of luck to Zuckerberg’s outstanding success story, he could not have achieved it without tenacity, hard work, and knowing how to take advantage of a splendid opportunity when it came his way: traits common to all thriving businesspeople. 

Stay on Top of Your Website Speed

Great SEO management takes updating, and that usually means often! The great thing is that there are lots of tools out there to help you keep your web pages optimized. You can optimize for a lot of things, but one of the most important things to do is optimize for speed.

Fast pages rank better with Google, but they are also more usable. On average, pages in the United States take somewhere around 9 to eleven seconds to load across major industries. A very few are in the eight or 12 second range.

Get Your Site Tested

Before you decide which page to optimize first, get your site tested. There’s a lot of great software out there. Just take your pick and get started! Pingdom is an easy one to use that will check per page for you. It’s the best option for people who update their pages frequently.

Check Your Code

One of the major ways sites become slow is with cumbersome code. Usually, the culprit is either clunky JavaScript or redundant CSS.

Some basic things you can do with your developer are to lighten up the JavaScript and to resize images with CSS so that they easily fit your page width.

All in all, you want the JavaScript to be as lean as possible. This may mean having some interactive features revisited. It can also mean checking up on your animation to see if it’s really necessary.

After that, you want the CSS, or cascading style sheets, to be well-organized and very neat. It may seem obsessive when you see how neat people try to make their style sheets, but neatness makes all the difference in the world when it comes to page load times.

Fixe 404s

These little guys are the enemy of page speed. Fix them pronto to boost your rankings! There’s not much to it: simply delete empty URLs, or issue a 301 redirect to another page on your site.

Cache Your Page

This is an easy thing you can do no matter how large your website is. It will cause your page to be saved when people load it.

Use Accelerated Mobile Pages

These are pared-down versions of your page that load on mobile. You can use a WordPress plugin if you don’t have a developer to fix you up with AMPs.

Use Minification

This is a surefire way to make the page load faster. Essentially, minification means to strip data from the browser that you don’t need. It strips unnecessary and redundant data to help the page load smoother.

Check Your Plugins

Minimizing is the goal here. You clean out plugins just like you clean out a closet! Take a hard line and delete any that you don’t really need, because they will all slow your site down at least a little bit.

These things may seem small, but they have a huge impact on page speed. Remember that pages load differently on different devices. Get your website tested across browsers and devices to get an accurate picture of how the pages are loading. If you stick to it and optimize a little every week, you won’t have to do huge yearly overhauls.

Overall, the key is to keep it lean on the website. Lean code, clean browsers, and light plugins are the way to go. If you have a really hard time getting the page load time down, you will want to check on getting a different host. But usually, the biggest thing is cleaning up JavaScript and CSS. After that, it depends on what you have on your website and if it’s mobile-ready.

What Is HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It forms the foundation of all the code you see on the web. Without HTML, we wouldn’t see any of the style and design from CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets.

You can wrap a lot of things in HTML. HTML is essentially a tool for putting content on the web, so you can wrap your general printed content in it. But you can also embed videos, images, and audio files using HTML.

HTML is powerful, but it isn’t interactive. You need JavaScript to make your pages interactive on the web. So HTML will make pages and forms, but you can’t send any information without JavaScript and usually a bit of PHP.

People learn HTML all kinds of ways. There are some great books on the subject. But you can also sign up for an online course like Codecademy. Some people even learn HTML by tinkering around with a text editor like Atom and viewing the source code on their favorite web pages.

HTML is not too hard to learn, but it requires a certain amount of attention to detail to use efficiently. If you’re interested in learning HTML, try one or more of the methods mentioned above. You can also look through the World Wide Web Consortium’s tutorial, also known as the W3Schools Tutorial.

Many people use HTML for creating emails these days in addition to web pages. It’s a great format for creating personalized emails and emails with lots of images. HTML has a lot of structure and syntax. This provides the basis for the organization of web pages and some mobile apps.

Successful Entrepreneurs: J.K. Rowling

When J.K. Rowling was six years old, she wrote a story about a rabbit who gets measles. That introduction into story telling was when Rowling knew she wanted to become a writer. Many years and several challenges later, Rowling would become the most famous writer in the world.

Success Rising from Hard Times

Before Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling were global household names and she was the first billionaire female author, Joanne Rowling was struggling through life. Her teenage years were difficult. When she was 15, her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and it took a toll on her family. Ten years later, her mother passed away. It was a devastating event. Rowling also had suicidal thoughts while she was in her twenties. She claims that going through these emotional moments, helped her create the “Harry Potter” series. Her experience with depression helped shape characters, like the Dementors, in her books.

Graduating and Becoming a Parent

After graduating from the University of Exeter in 1986, she worked for Amnesty International as a secretary, but she realized it was not the job she wanted. She went to teach English in Portugal, where she met and married Jorge Arantes. After a miscarriage in 1992, Rowling had her daughter, Jessica, in 1993. Rowling separated from her husband the same year. After her marriage failed, Rowling traveled with her daughter back to Britain, with not job and a suitcase of Harry Potterwritings.

“Harry Potter” Introduced to the World

Rowling was a single mother living on government welfare but continued writing. She finished her first Harry Potterbook in 1995. Twelve publishers rejected it, but Rowling did not give up. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was finally published by Bloomsbury in 1997. It became a big seller in the United Kingdom, and Rowling sold it to Scholastic in the United States for $100,000.

Her books flew off the shelves, Warner Bros. made movies, Universal Studios opened a Harry Potter attraction, and merchandise was developed. Rowling became a billionaire.

Rowling’s Awards and Financial Successes

J.K. Rowling became a legendary author despite her misfortunes. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” won the Nestle Smarties Book Prize and the British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year.

Because of her monetary success, Rowling has been able to help others. She is a champion for poor families and single parents, and she has never forgotten what it was like being on welfare while trying to take care of her child. She also founded the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University of Edinburgh.

Over 450 million copies of “Harry Potter” have been sold and the last movie earned $476 million just during opening weekend. Rowling wrote seven books for the “Harry Potter” series. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” became the fastest-selling book ever, selling 11 million copies on day one.

Rowling went on to work with Sony to develop Pottermore, an online resource dedicated to “Harry Potter” and the unknowns of the story.

Rowling continued her writing success with “The Casual Vacancy” selling one million copies in its first three weeks of release. The book was then adapted into a BBC TV and HBO miniseries. The “Cuckoo’s Calling”, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, also received positive reviews.

Successful Entrepreneurs: Henry Ford

During his lifetime, Henry Ford became one of the world’s most successful and influential businessmen and one of its wealthiest men. Some of his business innovations and practices changed the business world in ways that continue today, and the automobile company he founded remains, more than 80 years after his passing, as one of the “Big Three” American automobile manufacturers.

Like many other famous entrepreneurs, Ford did not have a quick, simple path to his astounding success. In fact, he endured several setbacks and failings en route to becoming the industrial titan he was and remains.

Background

Born in 1863 to a farming family in Michigan, Ford had before reaching his teens developed an avid interest in repairing and building machines. At 13, Ford’s father gave him a pocket watch, which Ford disassembled and then reassembled. Soon, Ford was repairing watches for neighbors and friends.

By 16, Ford’s interest had turned to engines, and in the ensuing years he learned to operate and service steam engines. At the same time, he developed interest in building his own engine-powered vehicles.

Starting in 1890, Ford worked as an engineer for the Detroit Edison Company, rising to Chief Engineer in 1893. During this time, and afterward, he worked at home on his own projects, with one goal being the invention of a horseless carriage. He made a gasoline-powered buggy in 1892, and in 1896 he finished a model car called the Ford Quadricycle.

Early Ventures

By 1899, spurred by his continuing successes with model cars and the money from investors, Ford left the Detroit Edison Company to go into business on his own, and some years of setbacks followed until Ford established the formidable company that bears his name today.

The first of these setbacks involved the Detroit Automobile Company, which Ford founded in 1899. What Ford wanted was a high-quality product for a low price, and instead he got the opposite. The company closed in 1901.

Next was the Henry Ford Company, founded in 1901 by stockholders from the Detroit Automobile Company. Ford was the chief engineer, but he left the company in 1902 because of unhappiness with some personnel decisions by management. After he left, the company became the Cadillac Automobile Company.

The Model T, Success, and History

Things began to turn around in 1902 when Ford and Alexander Malcomson, a Detroit coal dealer, formed Ford and Malcomson, Ltd. in order to build and sell automobiles. Initially, the company struggled and nearly failed, but an infusion from new investors in 1903 helped save it, the company became the Ford Motor Company, and two events in particular would set the company on its way to success.

The first of those was a race car called the “999” that Ford helped design and build; this car set a new land speed record of 91.3 miles per hour. A race driver named Barney Oldfield went around the country to show off the car, creating national recognition of the Ford brand.

Second was something that made and changed history: the introduction of the Model T on October 1, 1908. Until then, automobiles were relatively scarce and expensive, something few other than the wealthy could afford. The Model T changed all that because it was durable, easy to operate, cheap by comparison (and it would actually become cheaper each year it was in production), and easy and inexpensive to repair.

The success of the Model T led to other changes that would dramatically affect not only the automobile industry but American life as well. In 1913, Ford applied the concept of the assembly line to production of the Model T, which made its manufacture much faster and less expensive. Ford also more than doubled the wages he paid his assembly-line workers, which not only improved retention and morale but encouraged the best workers to seek employment by Ford. In addition, Ford went to a 5-day, 40-hour workweek, a big change from the 6-day, 48-hour workweek that had been the standard, out of the belief that as long as employees were more productive, they deserved more leisure time.

The rest, of course, is history. By 1918, half of the cars on American roads were a Model T, and Ford was by far the best-selling automobile in the country. America’s legendary car culture largely derives from that assembly line and the Model T, and Ford lives on today with top-selling models such as the Explorer and iconic performance cars such as the Mustang, and the blue oval is one of the most recognizable of corporate logos.

Successful Entrepreneurs: The Story of Bill Gates

“Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”

Self-styled nerd Bill Gates said that, the same Bill Gates who co-founded Microsoft, only the most successful software business ever, and who for 13 years was the world’s richest person (now that is Jeff Bezos of Amazon, though Gates is still second with an estimated net worth of just under $100 billion).

Background and Education

Born in 1955 to an upper-middle-class family in Seattle, Washington, Gates does not come with a rags-to-riches story that so many Americans love, but his ascendance to the pinnacle of the business world was not without risks and setbacks.

For instance, Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975 after not two full years there. Normally, one would consider it crazy to drop out of Harvard when an undergraduate degree from there virtually guarantees lucrative job offers, but Gates had bigger goals: going into business for himself and revolutionizing the computer industry.

Although this was disappointing to Gates’s parents and some others close to him, it was not exactly surprising, for it was in keeping with his record up to that point.

Worried that their brilliant child was bored and withdrawn in school and would suffer academically and socially, Gates’s parents withdrew him from public school and enrolled him in the prestigious Lakeside School when he was 13. There, he excelled, particularly in science and math, and he developed a fascination with computers and began writing his own programs.

While at Lakeside, Gates met Paul Allen, who shared a love of computers, and the two became close friends and spent many hours in the school’s computer lab creating and running programs. For a brief period, they actually lost their computer privileges for hacking into the company that provided the school’s computers. The hacking was not to cause damage; it was to obtain extra free computer time.

The two regained access to the lab after offering to debug the system they had hacked, and they also created a payroll program for the company and a scheduling program for the school. When Gates was 15, he and Allen created their own business, developing “Traf-o-Data,” a program that monitored Seattle’s traffic patterns.

At this point, Gates already wanted to leave school and go into business full-time with Allen, but his parents insisted he finish high school and go to college. They won that round.

Into the Business World

Allen, two years Gates’s senior, attended Washington State (like Gates, he dropped out in order to go into tech), but the two remained close after Allen’s graduation and Gates’s matriculation to Harvard, and they continued to explore programming and plan business ventures.

And so in 1975 Gates left Harvard and with Allen founded “Micro-Soft,” soon to become Microsoft, initially selling BASIC software. At first, the company struggled, but by 1979 Microsoft was performing well, and the business really took off in 1981 and 1982 when Microsoft won the right to develop software for IBM, and when in 1985 Microsoft launched Windows, a user-friendly format to replace the complicated MS-DOS system, the company became a true colossus. Gates was CEO and chairman of the board.

In 1986, with Microsoft’s IPO, Gates became an instant millionaire. A year later, he was a billionaire at just 31 and on his way to becoming the wealthiest person in the world.

Gates’s rise was not without controversy. He had a reputation for being competitive and aggressive (some said ​ruthless)​ , and he sometimes used lawsuits and even bluffing to gain advantage (one infamous bluff was announcing Windows when in fact it had not yet been created). During the 1990s, there were investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission into alleged unfair business practices. Nevertheless, Microsoft endured and thrived.

Today, Gates no longer plays a role in the day-to-day operations of Microsoft. In 2000, Gates passed off the CEO role to focus on software but remained chairman. Gates’s last full day at Microsoft was in 2008, and in 2014 he left the chairman position.

After Microsoft

Now Gates and his wife, Melinda, mostly focus on charitable work. Together, they founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, with a priority on education, health, and investment for low-income areas worldwide. Gates has also invested in research for a universal flu vaccine, Alzheimer’s research, and development of a “smart city” in Arizona. Like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller before him, Gates has found an obligation to use much of his incredible fortune to give back and to help the disadvantaged.

How To Stay Motivated While Working Remotely

  •  Maintaining a routine and professional environment can help you stay on task.
  • When external motivations are removed, it’s important to set up internal incentives for productivity.
  • Avoid overworking by taking breaks and setting a schedule.

As people are now working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are discovering both the joys and frustrations of re- mote work. Some are finding that they’re more productive; others, less. Some are enjoying a sense of freedom, while others desper- ately miss their office and coworkers. Either way, it can be hard to stay motivated. If you find yourself procrastinating a lot or distracted by social media, you might need a crash course in motivational science. Most people work differently — and perhaps less effectively — when they’re not used to their environment. Here’s how to boost your motivation and get things done while working remotely.

Maintain a Morning Routine

Humans are creatures of habit. While you may enjoy that extra hour of sleep now that you don’t have to commute, it may be hurting your productivity. Taking the time to rise early, brush your teeth, and get dressed helps establish a boundary between work and the rest of your life. If you simply roll out of bed and start working, you’re obliterating that boundary. Instead, try to simulate the routine you’d have if you were going into the office to work. Take the time to get ready in the morning, and take a lunch break as you normally would. Having this personal discipline helps you maintain focus, which is key for motivation.

Treat Your Home Office Like An Office

Many people are tempted to work from their couch or in their pajamas. While that may be comfortable, it’s not conducive to your motivation. Think about it: Those are things that you do to relax, and your brain and body know it. No one feels motivated to work while lounging. Instead, put on professional clothing and establish a home office. If you don’t have a separate room to use, that’s okay: Take over one end of the dining table or set up a card table, then use that as your “office.” Again, humans get accustomed to their environ- ment, so it’s much easier to stay on task if you have a dedicated workspace where you can get into that mode.

Take Breaks

Studies show that remote workers tend to work longer hours. That makes sense, because they don’t need to commute and they’re less distracted by coworkers. What those studies don’t always reveal is that remote workers also work more hours. When there are no meetings or water-cooler conversations to take you away from your desk, it’s easy to overwork. That’s why many remote workers drift into workaholism. To avoid this, take plenty of breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to keep your mind sharp and help you stay motivated. Here’s how it works: You work for 25 minutes straight, with no multi-tasking or distractions. Then, you take a 5-minute break to stretch, go for a quick walk, pet your cat, or whatever non-work thing you’d like. Science says that the human brain can’t sustain fo- cus for much longer than 25 minutes at a time. By taking a quick break to recharge, you can stay motivated to get your project done. Plus, you’re less likely to be distracted by email or social media when you know that you can check it on your 5-minute break.

Create a Reward System

As the kids say, “Treat yo’self.” Rewards are a powerful source of motivation and a cornerstone of work psychology for decades. Our brains release dopamine when we achieve something, and we can incentivize our productivity with a dopamine boost. If you’re struggling to stay on task, decide what “office perks” you’ll give yourself. Did you meet a deadline? You can have a cup of coffee or a quick game on your phone. Try logging your daily goals in your planner or notebook and assigning a reward to each one. If you complete your tasks, you can have a cookie. This system works especially well for remote workers who may have few external incentives (e.g. a boss cruising by your desk every hour).

Stay in Touch with Coworkers

With a plethora of virtual communication tools, there’s no excuse to not talk to your coworkers. Loneliness is the number one reason that remote workers cite as a reason they miss a regular office environment. And loneliness can be highly distracting. Plus, your coworkers are a source of motivation. You get inspired by chats with them, and you get things done in preparation for your meetings with them.

Without them being physically around, these incentives fade away. Keeping in touch through tools such as Skype and Slack can help. Establish regular check-ins to help ward off loneliness and boost your inspiration. You can even use your 5-minute breaks to send a quick message to a coworker. Being social goes a long way toward being productive.

Wrapping Up

Remote work often presents a distracting, disorienting environment. By following the above tips, you can take charge of your productivity and ward off distractions. Having a structured routine and a sense of connection to your coworkers can boost your motivation. Once you strike this balance, you’ll feel much more ready to conquer your to-do list.