When I tell people I work from home, their first comment is usually about motivation – and specifically about how they don’t think they’d have any, if they were in my position.
TV is normally mentioned at this point, as is the fridge, with whoever it is I’m speaking to absolutely convinced they’d just spend all day binging on either one or the other (or possibly both), rather than doing any actual work. Most people, it seems, don’t think they’d be able to motivate themselves if they worked from home. Actually, though, I reckon most people probably WOULD – for the simple reason that they wouldn’t have a choice: which is what I always tell the people who ask me how on earth I manage it.
When the work you do from home is what pays the bills every month, you don’t really have the option of just not doing it, after all. I don’t think there can be many people, for instance, who’d be happy to just sit there watching Netflix right up until the moment the TV was repossessed due to non-payment of bills – and if there are, then all I can say is that those people are WAY more laid back than I’ve ever been in my life, seriously. While the fear of not being able to pay the mortgage next month is probably the most powerful motivator there is, however, there are a few other ways to keep yourself motivated when you work from home: here are just a few of them…
01. Choose a job you’ll actually want to do
Money might be a powerful motivator, but if it’s your ONLY motivating factor, you’ll probably still struggle to get out of bed at morning and dive right into work. I REALLY struggled with motivation when I was in traditional employment: I always did the best job I could, but it was hard for me to motivate myself, because I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I had similar problems when I started freelancing: I loved being able to work from home, but the work I was doing just didn’t inspire me. I did it because I HAD to, but it was only when I switched to blogging full-time that I finally started to feel truly motivated. These days I genuinely enjoy my job – and that makes it a hundred times easier to stay motivated. Of course, finding a job you love – and being able to do it from home – can be easier said than done, but if you’re REALLY struggling with motivation, you might want to ask yourself if you’re in the right job – and what you can do to change it, if not.
02. Create a schedule that works for you
When I first started working from home, I read a lot of advice about how you should get up early every morning, stick to regular office hours, and generally do everything possible to make working from home feel exactly like working in an office. Which, honestly? Is all kinds of crazy, really. I mean, I might be way off base here, but my guess is that most people who choose to work from home do it because they don’t WANT to work in an office, and crave the freedom of being able to set their own hours, and work on their own terms, instead. I certainly did, and it didn’t take me long to work out that trying to force myself to do all the same things I did in traditional employment was a really easy way to turn my “dream job” into a nightmare.
These days, I set my own schedule. I’m not a morning person, and probably never will be, so I use the mornings to take care of chores, run errands and suchlike, and then start working after lunch, normally going right through until around midnight. That wouldn’t work for a lot of people, obviously, but it DOES work for me, so why change it? Create a schedule that suits YOU, not one that you feel SHOULD suit you because it’s what people who work in offices do: you DON’T work in an office, so unless you have clients who expect you to be at your desk between certain times, you don’t need to act like you do.
03. Set goals
One aspect of traditional employment which I DID carry over into working from home was goal-setting. I’m a very goal-orientated person, and I get a lot of satisfaction from setting a goal and then reaching it, so this is a really good way to keep myself motivated. To help with this, I bought myself a pretty ‘goals’ planner and some cute pens, so I could track everything on paper: it might sound a bit silly and superficial, but hey – everyone loves new stationery, right?
04. Join a Facebook group or real-life community of home-workers/entrepreneurs
One aspect of working from home that can be really challenging for a lot of people is the lack of human interaction during the day. As an extreme introvert, I don’t find I get lonely (my husband also works from home, though – I guess it might be a different story if it was just me and the dog all day!), but I do miss being able to bounce ideas off colleagues, or just vent my frustrations to someone who really understands what I’m talking about. For me, one good solution to that has been Facebook. I’m not a fan of the social network itself, but I do enjoy the groups function: I’m a member of a few different groups for bloggers (and I recently started one for my own blogs), and although I’m not hugely active on them (I’m apparently quite shy on the internet, as well as in “real” life) I do find them really useful just in terms of being able to connect with other people who are doing the same job, and experiencing the same kinds of things.
If Facebook isn’t your thing, there are tons of networking groups out there you could think about joining: not only do they get you out of the house, and give you someone to talk to, they can also help grow your business, too – win-win!
05. Find people who inspire you
I see a lot written these days about blogger envy – mostly from people who constantly compare themselves to other bloggers, and end up feeling miserable as a result. It’s a really easy trap to fall into, and I think we’ve all been there at some point – sometimes it’s hard NOT to look at other people, and feel like you’ll just never measure up to them, isn’t it? Rather than becoming envious, though, I prefer to try to use these people as inspiration: to tell myself that if they could do it, then so can I, and to work even harder as a result. Of course, you have to be realistic, too – I mean, I’m never going to look like Miranda Kerr, or be able to sing like Adele, so I’m in no hurry to compare myself to them. There’s no reason I can’t improve my blog, though, and make it the best it can possibly be, and sometimes looking at what other people have achieved through blogging is a good way to remind myself of that.
06. Try new things
Even though I set my own schedule and do my best to appreciate the freedom I have a result of working from home, it can be really easy to slip into a set routine, which leaves you feeling a bit stale, really. I don’t know about you, though, but I always feel most motivated when I have a new project to work on, or a new goal to meet. I really believe that a change is as good as a rest, and that can be something as simple as switching up my blog layout, or even re-organising the furniture in my office – whatever it is, it always re-inspires me, and makes me want to get back to work, so if I’m feeling really de-motivated, I start to think about making a change: it almost always helps.
07. Take a break
A change may be as good as rest, but you know what’s even better? An ACTUAL rest. Despite the stereotype of home-based workers spending all day on the couch in their pyjamas, most people I know who work from home put in really long hours, and don’t stop on the weekends, either. That’s all well and good, and sometimes there’s just not an option, but, well, if you don’t take breaks, you end up getting burnt out, and when you get burnt out, you’re not going to be able to motivate yourself AT ALL, no matter how many tips I give you. So take a break, OK? Don’t make me come over there…