Working from home and being your own boss is a blessing and a curse. While it’s awesome because you get to do whatever you want to do, however you want to do it and whenever you want to do it, this can quickly turn against you if you don’t remain motivated.
Motivation is a difficult elixir to come across as a creative entrepreneur or a small business owner. We all start off with it. We all are pumped and ready to achieve, set goals and get paid. But hard work doesn’t always mean that you will get what you work hard for. And since that system and accountability you would otherwise have in a conventional work environment isn’t in place in your own home, waking up everyday and remaining motivated becomes a task in itself.
So we have some tips for you to remain motivated:
1. Define your workplace
This is the most important thing you can possible do. It’s all about mentally associating an area in your home with work. And this area should be reserved solely for work. Important to mention is that you shouldn’t work where you sleep or somewhere you associate with comfiness or “relaxing-time” like the sofa or a family room. If you work where you sleep it will begin having an impact on your sleep and this can often be a reason for poor sleeping bouts.
By associating a place in your home for work you mentally prime yourself to work whenever you sit down in that area. It can be as simple as a desk and a chair. But your brain will begin to automatically know it’s time to focus when you sit down in that desk--after all motivation is all about mind over matter!
2. Figure out what time of day you are most productive
We talk about this in our op-ed on why you should procrastinate that you should check out here. But here I want to bring it up from the motivation perspective. If you realise that you work better at a certain time of the day than another then only work during that time. Don’t spend time trying to force yourself to work sluggishly through tasks since this can actually demoralize you. Not performing at a certain level and not completing tasks you know you can has the opposite impact of keeping you motivated. So find out when you work best and just concentrate for that time. You will get way more work done and finish the day feeling motivated. Use the other part of the day to catch up on personal things and errands...or sleep in, since sleeping more never hurt anyone!
Since you are only answerable to yourself it’s important to schedule your year out. Setting 2-3 yearly goals that you can break down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and then daily tasks will help keep you motivated because not only will you have an idea of the larger picture (so what the end goal is) but you have also laid out steps to get there on a daily basis putting weight behind why it is so important to do what you need to do every day.
Write down a physical list. Mentally, there is nothing more rewarding than ticking off something you have completed. And remember, a daily to-do list does not mean you have to complete everything off that list. This is the perk of being your own boss, you can be flexible and allow yourself a cushion. Knowing these are the things I need to be working on within these few days can take you a long way in remaining motivated since you have given yourself a purpose and goals as well as the daily actions you can take to achieve those goals!
So, set deadlines for yourself. Stick to them. Treat them as you would with deadlines as work handed down to you by a boss. Setting deadlines and sticking to them actually works and is important in taking what you do seriously. What is equally as important is finding someone else that can hold you accountable to those deadlines. This is especially important if you are someone who isn’t as productive in self-directed situations. This can be a group of creative entrepreneurs you have met online or even your partner, friend or sibling. You can meet like minded people and create a group in which you can state your objectives for the week and then check-in on each other at the end of the week by asking “have you done what you said you would set out to do?” This creates not only a system of accountability but also encouragement. As these people would be genuinely excited by the prospect of you getting done what you set out to do and would love to see you succeed. Encouragement and accountability are really important in remaining motivated!
4. Take breaks...yes even a nap
Once you’ve figured out what time of the day you work best don’t forget to give yourself frequent breaks. Stepping back from your work and giving your brain a much-needed break at set intervals increases your brain’s ability to process and function and most importantly makes sure you are not overworking yourself.
While not having to work the 9-5 has a lot of benefits, the plus side to it is is that you are only liable to work those given hours. Often times when we work for ourselves we end up working more hours than we should and without proper breaks. So listen to your body. If it wants to nap, nap. If it wants to go for a walk, go for a walk. If it wants to break out into a dance, then dance. Your health is more important than your productivity. Taking that quick 15 minute break won’t cost you as much as bad health will.
At the same time have a rewards system in place. This help you remain motivated. By telling yourself if you get this task done you can go for a coffee break with a friend or even something as simple as a bite of chocolate or that much-deserved cup of tea you will actually giving yourself incentive to get that work done.
5. Get active
Set some time in the day to do some form of physical activity. I know what you’re thinking. This will also cut into previous work minutes but the truth is that actually you increase your productivity by partaking in a physical activity. You are getting that blood rushing to your brain which is getting the oxygen it requires and not to mention releasing the right hormones to get pumped, feel good and get focused and energetic! The alternative actually adds to that sluggish/demoralized feeling. Most of us spend our whole days and sometimes even nights sitting on a desk in front of a screen. Even if you are an active creator you don’t get the same amount of physical exertion required to induce the sensations I outlined before. So we get really low and lethargic. This makes problem solving, thinking, creating and remaining motivated far more difficult. So whether you go for a quick run or fit on a 20 minute yoga session, get physical!
6. Rest days
At the end of it all remember to give your brain complete days off from any work related activities. In order to remain passionate about what you’re doing and keeping your brain in a healthy state of mind it’s important to step away from work altogether. That way when you do come back to your work routine you feel more refreshed and ready to work. Rest days also become something to look forward to making you want to work harder during the week so you can get everything done before your rest day and that way your rest can be truly stress free. Taking rest days also insures that you don’t begin to resent what you do and you don’t burn out.
Different things work for different people. Motivation is unique to each individual and while some of these things may work better for you than others just keep trying new things until you reach a routine that works for you!