10 things to help keep you motivated while working from home
Stay on track, no matter what WFH life throws at you.
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Given that I’ve worked from home for the majority of my decade-long writing career, I know a thing or two about staying self-motivated and warding off distractions without anyone holding me accountable. But it hasn’t always been easy.
Between getting distracted by my cute cats and the looming option of getting up for a snack at a moment’s notice, I, like so many of us who’ve pivoted to a work from home setup during the pandemic, need a little help from my friends (I mean, strategically selected items), to stay motivated. Here are 10 items to help you stay on task while you work from home, from standing desks to coffee makers.
1. A handy timer
If you find it easier to take short sprints than to slog through entire marathons, you may want to apply that same habit to your work life. This top-rated timer clock from Time Timer will help you implement the Pomodoro method—a popular productivity technique that breaks your work down into digestible 25-minute intervals. Sure, your phone has a timer function, but the goal is to keep that distraction bomb as far away from you as possible. One Amazon reviewer loves it and said, “The visual indicator and the knowledge that I will shortly have a break really help keep me task-oriented. I absolutely recommend this for time management and staying on track.”
2. Lively houseplants
Houseplants are like pets that don’t bark back—you get to nurture them, enjoy their company, and straight-up marvel at their beauty. It turns out they’re essential WFH companions, too. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, plants could help reduce fatigue, thereby boosting productivity and attention span in an office setting. Grab one of our favorite houseplants from Etsy boasting 7,000 reviews, a beautiful lush Peace Lily plant that claims to have air-purifying properties.
3. A standing desk
We’ve all gotten up from our desks at some point to “stretch our legs for five minutes,” which mysteriously turned into an hour-long pace around the house away from our desks. Get the best of both worlds with the best standing desk we've ever tested, which our tester loved for its easy and quick assembly, and intuitive height controls. She even claims that using it made her more productive throughout the day.
4. A meal kit delivery service
At the end of a grueling workday—or even in the middle during your lunch break—the last thing you want to do is whip up an elaborate meal that’ll take hours. Instead, invest in Hello Fresh, one of our favorite meal kit delivery services, and you’ll be chowing down on gourmet (and healthy!) grub in 40 minutes or less.
Our kitchen and cooking editor Madison Trapkin says her taste testers would have been thrilled to receive their dish, the 20-Minute Pork and Cabbage Stir-Fry, at a restaurant. Since HelloFresh is known to serve up generous portions, you’ll love treating yourself to their leftovers for extra fuel during the following day’s work session and choosing from their revolving door of 17 scrumptious recipes each week.
5. A pair of supportive work from home shoes
Wearing shoes? In the house? You bet. Think about how much lower your productivity might be if you were lounging around in socks and slippers. You might feel almost too comfortable to stay on task. That's why I've switched from my trusty slippers to a pair of fashionable orthopedic shoes.
The OOFOS Women's OOmg Shoe are designed with four-way stretch, incredible breathability, and feel like walking on a cloud without inducing an actual nap, making them ideal for chores around the house or doubling down on a project for work. The support from these shoes are ideal for using with a standing desk, if you really want to amp up the productivity. And I'm not the only one who loves them—they have 1,300 reviews and a 4.3-star rating on Amazon.
6. A proper work chair
Raise your hand if you've been using your dining chair for work. While it’s surely a space-saver, it’s not doing any favors for your back. Try our expert’s top office chair recommendation instead. The Herman Miller Classic Areron Chair features two flexible pads to support your lower to mid-back, firm and adjustable armrests, and mesh padding if you tend to stress-sweat. “The seat-angle adjustment alleviated a lot of leg tension, as well as made us feel more productive with the forward sitting position,” writes product tester Kyle Hamilton.
7. A solid sound system
Though the whir of traffic and chatty neighbors outside can be distracting, a playlist that actually speaks to you can get you right back on track. When working from home, I use the Marshall Major IV headphones to block out all the white noise that comes with urban living. They come with over 80 hours of crystal-clear playtime, so I don’t need to worry about any untimely breaks to get up and charge them. Their cushiony ear cups are on the smaller side so they don’t feel overwhelming or distracting—a bonus for getting in the work zone.
For more of an ambient sound, I use the Sony Extra Bass Wireless Portable Speaker that has more than 7,500 Amazon reviews and a 4.7-star rating. Its sound quality beats anything that would come out of my laptop speakers, it boasts a sleek, space-saving design, the speakerphone function allows me to talk on a work call hands-free, and since they’re fully waterproof, I never have to worry about coffee spills.
- Get the Major IV Bluetooth Headphone with wireless charging from Best Buy for $149.99)
- Get the Sony SRS-XB33 Extra Bass Wireless Portable Speaker from Amazon for $198
8. A near-perfect coffee maker
It’s no secret that a solid dose of caffeine is what stands between many of us and a productive workday. Ditch the time-consuming, costly daily Starbucks, and go the instant gratification route with my beloved Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker and one of the best single-serve coffee makers on the market. It’s my favorite device for brewing up a perfect cup in under a minute, and I get to adjust the strength and temperature depending on how much of a buzz I'm looking for. On hot days when motivation is hard to come by, the ice coffee functionality is a major source of relief.
9. A meditation session with Headspace
Sitting on a floor pillow trying to clear your mind can feel a little daunting, but when you have the guidance of Headspace, my favorite meditation app, it’ll become that much easier to drift to your happy place. Studies from the journal Neuroport show that daily meditation does wonders in strengthening the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with higher focus. Our sleep expert agrees, listing Headspace as the top-rated meditation app for its adjustable session lengths and ability to cater to a variety of needs, like anxiety reduction or deeper sleep.
10. Natural sunlight in a lamp
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a lack of sunlight can tamper with your natural sleep cycle and contribute to depression—neither of which is particularly conducive to a productive day at work. While we can’t all be CEOs with floor-to-ceiling windows in a corner office, we can fake some serious focus- and mood-boosting natural light in a pinch with the top-rated Carex light therapy lamp. Delivering 10,000 lumens of glare-free white light in a space-efficient 12-inch panel, the adjustable lamp is ideal for brightening up a dull day.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.