When you’re an at-home entrepreneur or telecommuter, you can enjoy the benefits of your own office oasis. A peaceful setting. A short commute. A view of the backyard.
But the quality of your at-home work experience is created only in part by your surroundings. It is really a product of an entirely different landscape: your mind.
Know the Signs
In my practice, I see otherwise smart, productive, successful people who begin to struggle when they start to office at home. Some lose motivation when they aren’t surrounded by co-workers and a workplace setting. Others have the opposite problem. They have trouble keeping their personal and professional lives separate and in balance. Their mental work environment becomes cluttered, and their productivity and satisfaction suffer.
If you feel tired all the time, are irritable or negative about work, or find yourself fantasizing about doing something – anything – else than the work at hand, then you may have home-office burnout. Ask yourself: can you see yourself investing more time, money and energy into what you do for a living? If the answer is no, then it’s time to think about a change. If the answer is yes – even a little yes – then there are effective ways to improve your experience that don’t require résumés or references.
Create Mental Space
We often think the answer is a change to our physical environment, like a better chair to stay more alert, a quieter workspace, or a new organizer to track our tasks. But, it’s not that we really need to remodel our offices and desktops. In fact, we need to create an environment that in turn changes our minds.
The real question is: What creates the mindset I need to be successful, to be satisfied with my work?
Think back to a time when you felt like you were firing on all cylinders. Maybe it was when you created a presentation that was especially effective, or a day that your sales calls really hit the mark. A good way to recognize that mindset is that you probably lost track of time because you were in a flow.
Identify that time and think about how it felt. Where were you? What was your mood like? What could you hear? What could you see? Did you do something beforehand, like exercise or take a long lunch break? What was unique about that situation? Answer those questions, and you’ll have a good idea of how you might recreate your optimum mindset. Then, next time you’re struggling with a project or having trouble keeping things in balance, you can fall back on what you know works.
Do a Mental Makeover
Another way to tap into the right mindset when working at home is to re-envision your work. Maybe right now you’re feeling distracted or pulled in too many directions, or perhaps you’re just not making enough sales or producing enough work. With a mental makeover, you can make better progress toward your goals.
One of the most important things I’ve learned as a psychologist is that the brain doesn’t know the difference between what we actually experience and what we vividly imagine. It’s why when you close your eyes and imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean or another favorite get-away spot, you actually feel more relaxed.
To put yourself on the path to a more satisfying at-home work experience, visualize what that looks like. Imagine it as if someone were taking a video of the best you – successful, productive, engaged and energized. In that video, you have achieved whatever goals you need to create – a number of sales made, a recognition earned or an income milestone achieved.
In your mental video, what are you doing and saying? How are you acting? What does your workspace look like? See yourself at the end of your video reaching your goals. Then, rewind the video. As the frames flip past you, notice all the things you did along the way that created that achievement.
Then fast forward to the end of the video again. How do you feel when you’ve attained your objectives? Play your video again and again to recreate that feeling. Use it as a daily inspiration. Enjoy it, relish it and walk around in it.
Pretty soon you’ll have not only created a mental makeover, but you will find yourself bringing your inner video to life.