It’s been one of those days… You know, the one where the couch has your name plastered all over it, and its voice drowns out all your good intentions. But there are deadlines for clients and deadlines you’ve set for yourself so you have to keep going no matter what.
At the risk of sounding whiny, it’s hard to stay motivated when you work at home all by yourself. The couch calls, its siren song promising rest, relaxation, and your favorite talk shows if only you’ll just stop what you’re doing and come hang out for awhile. And it’s so easy to give in, until you remember that you work for yourself, and if you don’t get the work done you don’t get paid, and then the bills don’t get paid, and you don’t get to eat the rest of the week. And I’ve been there, so no couch for me… this time.
So in case you haven’t already figured it out, I will readily admit that I suck at self-motivation. But I’ve also had to work hard to overcome and have figured out a few ways to keep myself working when I’d really rather be on the couch with a good book.
1. Take baby steps
All you really have to do is motivate yourself to take the first step. It doesn’t have to be a big one. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by all there is to do to achieve a goal, we forget that we don’t have to do it all in one go. Pick a starting place, and just start. You’ll find that often once you get yourself moving, it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop.
2. Learn to focus
Repeat after me… Multitasking is not my friend. I had to learn this the hard way, and you may have to as well. But it’s true. A lack of focus can easily translate into a lack of motivation because you can easily overwhelm yourself if you are thinking about more than one project at a time. This doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple projects on the go at the same time, it just means that you have to learn to focus on the task at hand and not let anything else get in the way at that moment.
3. Talk to people
You do have a network right? Talk to your friends, you co-workers, and anyone else you have to in order to get you moving again. If you work online, you more than likely belong to at least one community or forum. There’s really no need to suffer in silence and frustration when you can reach out and talk to people who know where you’re coming from and what you’re dealing with.
4. Schedule your work day
Sometimes a lack of motivation comes from not knowing what to do first. When the to-do list is so long you have no idea what to do first, it’s so much easier to head for the couch and think about work later. Creating a schedule for your day can help keep you from getting stuck on what to do next, and crossing things off your list as you get them done can, and often will, motivate you to keep going until the whole list is complete.
5. Just one more minute
This trick is one I learned in the gym, but it carries over to work as well. When you start to feel your motivation slipping, tell yourself “just one more minute” and keep doing that until you complete the task or you really have to take a break. Sometimes you’ll find that just pushing through that initial minute when you first wanted to quit will give you the motivation to keep going right until the finish line.
6. Tell someone what you’re doing
If you really want to take your motivation to a new level, announce your plans to your friends, family or colleagues. It gives you a whole new level of accountability when you know others know what you’re up to.
For example, this morning I announced to the readers of the Daily Acorn Stash this morning that I would be writing a new blog post every day for the next 100 days. It’s scary and motivating all at the same time, and means there’s definitely no couch for me until the blog posts are done for the day.
7. Remember your why
One of the best motivators I know of is to remember why you are doing what you’re doing. Write it down and tack it on the wall, or create a vision board about it and hang it somewhere you will see it as you’re working. That way when the couch starts calling really loudly, all you have to do is look at your wall and know why you are willing to stick to the schedule and keep on working.
8. Recognize your triggers
We all have triggers that can cause us to become de-motivated during the day. Learn to recognize when you are getting close to your limit, and work out a strategy for keeping yourself motivated through the down times. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break to clear your mind and recharge your batteries; in fact, it’s been suggested that taking a break every 45 minutes or so can actually help to keep you more motivated than if you work non-stop.
Above all, keep your thoughts positive. It’s easy to let yourself get down, but in the end you are the only one who can achieve your goals. The couch will still be there at the end of the day, and you can relax feeling pleased with everything you accomplished instead of feeling guilty that you vegged away the day.