Working for your own home business is empowering, and to many, exciting, but it also comes with its share of challenges. Most entrepreneurs or workers new to the idea are quickly confronted with a key problem they never faced in an office environment: staying motivated. Sure, there were days when you didn’t really want to be in the office, and days where your productivity dragged, but because you were dressed up, in a professional environment, with bosses and coworkers all around you, you managed to chip away at your tasks.
At home, you’re the only person who can keep yourself motivated, and it isn’t always easy to stay energetic.
If you need a little extra boost of self-motivation, try one or more of these 10 tricks to get the job done:
Nobody likes to roll out of bed and immediately get started on a tough assignment. If you want to start your workday with a positive and energetic disposition, do something fun instead. It could be a quick workout, enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee, or reading something funny on the Internet — whatever it is, make it something you like to do. You’ll notice a difference immediately.
Instead of trying to do everything at once, break up your time into manageable chunks. For example, you can split your time into “work time” and “break time” with some degree of regularity. For example, you might work for an hour, followed by a 15 minute break, repeating that cycle throughout the workday. It keeps you focused, and also gives you something to look forward to.
Speaking of looking forward to something, try setting up rewards for yourself. These can be practically anything, as long as you enjoy what you’re getting. For example, you might allow yourself a piece of candy after completing a particularly difficult assignment, or watch an episode of your favorite TV show as a break from your work after achieving a certain threshold.
You’ll be amazed what a little fresh air can do for your mind. Take a minute to step outside your house, and go for a walk if you can. The exercise will increase blood flow and oxygenate your brain, and the lack of a digital screen will give your eyes a chance to relax. You’ll come back in feeling refreshed and re-energized — I almost guarantee it.
No matter how much you love to be home or how cool your home office is, the “home” working environment gets stale over time. Go out of your way to work somewhere new, like a collaborative space, a coffee shop, or even just a different room of your house.
Some productivity studies suggest that starting with easier tasks and warming up to hard ones is better. Some suggest tackling hard ones then working to easier ones is better. In practice, it’s better to use a bit of both; ease into your day with a handful of easy tasks, but try to knock out your most difficult work early. Depending on your personality, you may find other variations of this pattern more motivating.
You won’t have a boss or any coworkers around to keep you motivated, but you do have friends and family members. Tell the people close to you about your goals, and about your plans for the day. Simply telling them makes you more likely to follow through with your plans because if you end up deviating, you’ll be forced to give them an explanation why later on. Social pressure is powerful; use it to your advantage.
Most people have difficulty starting because they want everything done at once, or because they’re afraid of messing something up. Rather than fearing imperfection in these ways, you have to learn to embrace it. Go into your work knowing that it’s going to be flawed, and you’ll have fewer qualms about completing it.
If you chase distractions all day, you’ll get nothing done. If you try to rule out distractions entirely, you’ll end up frustrated and might even burn out by the end of the day. Instead, strive for a happy medium; allow yourself some distractions, but only within a contained period. For example, you might allow yourself 10 minutes of Facebook time, or delay watching that YouTube video until a certain time of day.
Working for yourself is much different than working for someone else. The amount of effort you put in will correlate precisely with the value of rewards you receive. Remember this if you’re ever struggling to put in the effort; you may even wish to tie your time and effort to dollar amounts, or probabilities for future success.
Everybody is different, and has a unique working style. While I intended these strategies to be fairly general, you need to understand that they aren’t going to work for everybody (or at least won’t work for everybody the same way). Experiment to see what strategies work for you, and don’t let yourself become frustrated if you still struggle to self-motivate. If you’re persistent enough, eventually you’ll find a set of strategies that work for you.
Originally published at medium.com