Ever had a day when you just can’t seem to get yourself going and work slips by through a glaze of unfocused attention and lack of energy? I’m willing to be that we’ve all been there, whether we work for ourselves or not. I can certainly hold my hand up and admit to not feeling in prime work mode on more than one occasion.
The trouble when you work from home or work for yourself is that there is no boss breathing over your shoulder keeping you in check. In many cases, you work alone and your daily interactions are limited. Over time, this can contribute to an overall lack of motivation and productivity levels begin to dip.
Lack of motivation is not only a risk to our work, but can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. Feeling demotivated can lead to negativity and self-deprecation as the isolation of working from home takes its toll.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can boost motivation when working from home or you are self employed.
TREAT YOUR MORNINGS AS IF YOU HAVE A JOB TO GO TO
One of the main perks of working from home is skipping the morning commute. However, this can remove the need to leave the house. Being cooped up indoors all day can play havoc on our mood, metabolism and productivity levels.
One way around this problem is by leaving the house each morning. Before you wrinkle up your nose and say that ditching the commute was one of the main reasons why you chose to work from home, this proactive choice feels a lot different to the mercy you surrender to the traffic Gods.
Incorporating a walk into your day enables you to slip in some much needed exercise and gets you ready to work when you unlock your front door.
Take a look at the blog post I wrote on mastering your morning routine.
WORK FROM DIFFERENT LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT YOUR WEEK
This could be from a coffee shop or local library, to a friend’s house who also works from home if they don’t mind having the company. Changing your routine can help improve your concentration levels and it also helps with the above issue of being a reason to leave the house.
Sitting inside the same four walls all week can induce a cabin fever effect especially if your interaction levels are nonexistent. Switching up your location not only refocuses you but it gives you a reason to interact with other people.
I’ve found that I am productive in coworking spaces. I enjoy the hubbub around me, but it’s far more relaxed than your regular office as the people there are mostly all self-employed, choosing to work in a shared space. You can opt for a hot desk option, which for a monthly fee you can rock up as many times as you like and work from any desk that is free. There are usually ‘fixed’ desk spaces, which would suit you if you work from a PC or have equipment you don’t want to carry around.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
I’ve touched on the concept of organising your time before. In order to remain focused, start by planning out your week at the end of the one before. If this seems impossible, then at least end each day by listing out your tasks for the next day and ensuring your schedule is ready to go. Beginning the day with clear goals in mind will help you to power through your priorities.
Find a working style that suits you. For most people, sitting behind a desk for hours on end is not comfortable or productive. Ensure you take regular, short breaks to get up out of your chair and move around.
Other people find batching their time really useful, which involves working on the same kinds of tasks at one time. I.e. setting aside 3 hours to work on creative content, which includes writing a blog post, creating social media or drafting your subscriber emails. Keeping similar tasks together means that you don’t waste mental energy switching between a variety of different activities in a short space of time.
BECOME A MASTER AT DELEGATION
Running your own business means that you wear many hats by default. The issue with this is that there will be some elements of your work that you enjoy and you are good at, whilst others will be a laborious time suck of questionable value.
You are likely to want to spend the majority of your time carrying out tasks that earn you money. The trouble is that a self-employed person finds themselves being caught up in the minutiae of running the business, which might not be very motivating.
These time consuming activities can be anything from social media, accounting, client outreach or other admin related activities.
For one week, write down every activity you do and the time it takes you to do it. Once you have built up a picture of how you spend your time, you can place a value against each activity.
Do I enjoy this task?
Am I competent at carrying out the task or do I struggle?
Is this task vital for the running of my business?
How important is it that I am the one to carry out this task?
Once you identify the areas that you can outsource, you’ll unlock hours more time during your week to work on your business instead of in it, which is a huge boost to your motivation.
To get started, look at:
The numerous tasks a virtual assistant can take off your hands today.
LINE UP AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY
When all that holds you accountable is your own to-do list staring back at you from the page, it can be a struggle to stay on track. If your deadlines are flexible – i.e. not set by a client – then you have the ability to plan your week the way you want it. Whilst this may be seen as an ideal working scenario, in reality, scheduling your own time can be a challenge.
Be clear on your priorities at the beginning of each week. Get in touch with someone who can relate to the pitfalls of being self-employed and ask them to act as your accountability buddy. Be prepared to let them challenge you at the end of the week over why you haven’t met your goals.
If you don’t know where you can find an accountability buddy, try searching on Facebook for groups within your niche that you can join. For example, there are several blogging for business, female freelancers/digital nomads and small business owners groups on Facebook where you can find a community of supportive people online.
If you are a female business owner in the UK and would prefer the motivation of others in real life, then I would strongly suggest a networking group called Girl Tribe Gang. Read all about why I value this group so much in the blog I wrote about finding your tribe when you work for yourself.
INVEST IN PERSONAL GROWTH
Working for yourself may mean that you are constantly learning new things over the course of your business. However,
Listen to a podcast
Watch a TED talk
Read a chapter of a business book
Spend an hour developing a new skill.
Finding time to dedicate to yourself in the middle of a busy schedule can be hard, but setting aside even 30 minutes regularly for ‘me time’ can have a positive effect on mood and motivation. Remember that even the most efficient motor needs rest and refuelling to work properly.
Read: how to beat business overwhelm when you’re self employed.
INCORPORATE EXERCISE AND HEALTHY FOOD INTO YOUR DAY
Similar to the concept of personal growth, self-care has become a buzzword in recent years. However, although it’s good that these subjects are being discussed, the general attitude towards them is that they are nice-to-do treats rather than non-negotiables.
Self-care doesn’t have to be as indulgent as a bubble bath and a glass of wine at the end of the day (although that’s always nice!). Just as you need to prioritise your personal growth when you’re self employed, you should be taking care of yourself physically by incorporating exercise into your day and eating well.
IMPLEMENT THE SPIRAL SYSTEM
One freelance writer I talked to explained that she started her day by using a spiral approach. She began her morning with activities she enjoyed, such as meditation and journaling.
Slowly, she works her way ‘in’ with easy admin tasks and writing exercises. By the time she has completed them she feels motivated to hunker down and create content.
START THE DAY BY EATING A FROG
Conversely, try starting your day by implementing the opposite method to the one above.
Mark Twain famously said that “if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of your day knowing the worst is behind you”.
Start your day with your worst task – and by worst, I mean most important or the thing you are most likely to procrastinate on – and do not allow yourself to get distracted. The sense of accomplishment you will get from completing that tough piece of work by 10am will carry you through the rest of the day.
GET BACK TO YOUR WHY
Lastly, I want to touch on the subject of your why.
What is that, you may be wondering? Your why is your underlying motivation for doing anything at all. In a work context, it’s the reason that you do what you do, day in and day out. Hopefully, you’ve aligned your passion with your why and find joy in sharing your skills and experience with others. But even if your why is the far more common ‘I do this because it pays the bills,’ being clear what drives you forward will help maintain your motivation.
If you cannot think of a single reason why you should be doing something, then it’s time to axe it. Don’t waste your time on prioritising things that do not bring you value (whether it’s through necessity or not) or happiness.
TIPS TO BOOST MOTIVATION WHEN WORKING FROM HOME
I’ve been working at home by myself for almost a year now. Although I remain organised with my time, there are occasions where I feel unmotivated and I wonder whether the environment is to blame. For me, a change of scenery and incorporating interaction with others into my week really helps me stay on top of my work.
Talking to other self employed or freelancing people, the issue of motivation often crops up. I hope these tips help you to address your own underlying motivation levels. I am a big believer of trying new methods to find a system that works, so I’d love to hear your feedback of what you’ve tried to increase your motivation and how you’ve found it.