How To Stay Focused and Motivated When You Work For Yourself
When I tell people I work for myself, I usually receive a similar response every time:
“Wow! It must be great being your own boss.”, “I’d love to work from home in my PJs all of the time.” Or, “If I worked from home, I’d just end up watching TV all day.”
It’s true. It is great being in control of what I do and I do sometimes work from the comfort of my own sofa. However, what people don’t realise is yes, it’s super hard to stay motivated all of the time.
In my time being a freelancer and a student (around the last five years of my life), I have managed to pick up some tips along the way.
Accept that you aren’t going to be motivated 100% of the time.
We live in a culture where being overworked and sleep deprived, running only on caffeine, is deemed as the norm and even something to aspire to.
But, this is really unhealthy for both your mind and body.
I’m the biggest one to fall into this trap, frequently punishing myself if I have an off day or don’t quite tick off everything on my overly-optimistic to-do list.
If you’re just starting out, learn to chill for a moment.
Of course, a productive spell is great, but face up to the reality that you’re only human and that you’re going to have days when you don’t feel up to it or days where you are just exhausted.
Have a workspace.
Setting aside a place where you do only do work allows you to focus when you need to and switch off at the end of the day.
This could be a designated area in your home, a coffee shop, your local library or even a co-working space.
I’ve worked in all sorts of environments. In fact, when I first started out, my desk was around two feet away from the bottom of my bed. Not the best way to go about it, but I still made sure I worked at that desk, rather than bringing the work stress to my bed.
Now, I have a room in my house where I head to do big pieces of work. I still do some work from my sofa, but this is usually quick tasks that I can get done whilst the tea is cooking.
Majority of my work day is actually spent in a co-working space. And, I’d really recommend that you look into renting a desk or even an office, if you can afford it.
Which leads me onto my next point...
Leave the house.
It’s great being able to work from your own house, especially if a key reason you became self-employed was to fit your job around a busy home and family life.
Nevertheless, I’d really recommend getting out every once and awhile - to stay sane, as well as motivated.
Again, a co-working space is a fantastic choice if you want to network without having to go to painfully-awkward networking sessions.
Meeting new people and getting to know individuals who are in the same boat as you can do wonders for inspiration and these people can offer amazing support when you’re first starting out.
Another option for those who can’t regularly leave their house is to become involved in online communities. There are a lot of these types of groups on Facebook, which basically act as a forum for discussion and support.
Plan, plan and plan some more.
If you arrive at your desk and have no idea where to start, it can take a while to get into the swing of things.
Plan out your days, weeks and even months in advance so you know exactly what tasks you’re supposed to be working on and when.
Of course, circumstances are going to change as things pop up - that’s life. But, by blocking out set time to complete your regular tasks, you can organise your time and stay on track.
It may sound counter-productive, but by taking time out to enjoy life can really do wonders for motivation.
I try to make sure I get two days a week off, where I completely switch off from work. If you can't do this, just set out times in your calendar or diary where you can relax, meet with friends, see your family, play a sport or just be outside in nature - whatever floats your boat.
When I have time away from the desk, it really inspires me because it gives me a chance to think and gain clarity.