Whether you’re self-employed, working from home or a freelancer that works here, there and everywhere, I think you’ll nod in unison with me when I say it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated.
I’m mean yes, working for yourself does have its perks. You don’t have to make office small talk, like ever. And you can meet your friends for lunch and don’t have to be nervously watching the clock. But, there are negatives too and one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with being self-employed is being able to stay motivated. Actually that’s a lie, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is being paid on time. But anyway that’s a different story.
I think the biggest difference I’ve noticed in being self-employed and in full-time employment is accountability. There is no one but yourself to keep you accountable. No line managers, CEO’s. Just you. There’s also no one to praise you, promote you or give you that pat on the back when you’ve done a good job. So, you kind of have to do it yourself. Which can be exhausting and lead to a dip in motivation but over the years and the past few months especially, I have put in place a few tactics to help ensure I stay motivated and thriving towards achieving the end goal. Here’s how:
Be completely honest, are you working to your full potential? Are you doing all that you can right now to achieve your goals, whatever they might be? If your answer is no, think about what’s stopping you. Is it a lack of motivation? Why are you unmotivated? Is it your working environment? Are you too isolated?
I was feeling unmotivated because I was completely uninspired. But after a trip to South Africa, a few conversations with my husband and a TV show on expensive technology (don’t ask), suddenly I feel like I am back!
Have an honest conversation with yourself. Ask yourself why do I feel like this and how can I get out of this rut. The sooner you can identify the problem the quicker you can put in the place the steps needed to get back on track.
Talk to people in your industry
View people in your industry as your co-workers instead of competitors. If they’ve been around longer than you, learn from their experiences. And if they’re at a level that you want to get to, speak to them about their journey.
Being self-employed or freelance means that you don’t have the privilege of having an organisation to map out a clear career path for you. So, you have to do it yourself. You have to build your own ladder from scratch and climb it. You have to fix that ladder by yourself when it breaks too. But the more people you meet and speak to along the way, the greater your chances are of someone helping you reach the next step on your ladder.
Don’t be afraid to talk about taboo things like money or balancing a self-employed career with children, either. The more you know, the more you’ll learn and the easier your journey will be.
Have set working hours
Hands up if you ever feel like you’ve spent the whole day working but haven’t really done much at all? Yep, that’s me! My hours depend on when I have clients or when I am teaching classes. Which sometimes means my day is very bitty. It’s very stop start, leaving me very little time to tackle emails, put together brand proposals and so on. It’s taken a while, but I now have a schedule that looks the same week in week out, which allows me to plan my working week in advance.
Do you ever find yourself replaying to emails past 7pm? I do this too. It’s kind of automatic. I just open my phone and find myself reading emails before I go to bed which is something I’d like to shake off. And although I’m not there yet, I make sure I don’t reply to any emails that come in after I’ve finished work.
And lets not talk about WhatsApp! I am SO close to deleting the app. It’s just constant, non stop. I’m in several personal training groups and they are all on mute. If it’s serious, email me. It’s not rude, it’s keeping my sanity. I don’t need to be altered by a message at 5am saying someone can’t work the lights the gym. Feel free to leave WhatsApp Groups, especially if it’s on your personal phone. Or if you haven’t quite plucked up the courage like me, mute them!
Make a to do list
Start each working day with a to do list. I find this is one of the best ways to monitor progress and ensure you’re moving forwards. And let’s not forget about how satisfying it is to tick someone off your to do list!
I usually have a weekly to do list which I create on a Monday and then I have one I create each day. My weekly to do list shapes my week. It’ll say things like “Work out 5 days this week”, I know that’s not exactly work related but…whatever, sometimes I just need something to tick off! Things like “secure brand campaign to support a project that I’m working on, complete X amount of PT/client training hours” will be on my weekly list too. I’ll also identify how many hours I need to spend on each particular task each week to ensure it gets done.
My daily lists are more time specific and relate to that day and anything that remains uncompleted just carries on to the next day.
Take days off
Running your own business often means it’s hard to switch off, but it’s important to take days off here whenever you can. This is your chance to relax, unwind and prevent a burnout.
If your job involves social media, have a few days away from Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. The apps are still going to be there when you return! So, book a spa day with your favourites, go watch a show or simply grab a book and head to your nearest park.
If you’re worried about taking a day off because you don’t want to lose out on money, have a look at your diary and see if you can shift things around to create a bit of space. This might result in working a longer day on a Tuesday, but it could mean having the whole of Friday off.
As I said earlier, there’s no line managers or colleagues to tell you “well done”. So when you’ve done well, big up yourself . When was the last time you said that to yourself? In fact, do it now. Just tell yourself well done for something you’ve achieved this year.
In my line of work when it comes to motivating client’s positive reinforcement is everything so it’s something I do with myself. I am my biggest cheerleader, alongside my mum and dad! They are always championing me from a far.
When you achieve a big goal, reward yourself. It might be a bag, a pair of shoes or a meal at your favourite restaurant. We humans live for praise and seeing as you don’t have a team of colleagues, assemble your own cheer squad of your loved ones and that includes you too.