It’s a liberating and exciting experience, taking the plunge into the freelancing life. You get to set your own hours, pick and choose the tasks you perform, pick up new skills you might not in a conventional job, and enjoy the comfort of your home.
But very soon you come to understand that freelancing is not an easy way of earning money. Sometimes you might take a job that is not secure, or you might not get work at all for a while.
Freelancing requires dedication and commitment, but most of all, in order to foster a professional attitude, you need to maintain motivation. Every freelancer comes to their work with a different ethos, but everyone shares the same fundamental need to keep focus.
It’s important to be equipped with regular reminders of how you can maintain motivation. Here are 7 ways to stay motivated when working from home.
1. Make your home office work
Before beginning your freelancing career, you should take a leaf from the conventional jobs you’ve had in the past. Office environments are, in a sense, curated spaces designed to optimize productivity.
Unlike a home environment, there are no televisions, well-stocked kitchens (unless you work in a restaurant) or family members demanding your attention.
It might be tempting to believe that you should spend thousands on expensive equipment or block out an entire room for your work. But even though a study or dedicated home office is an ideal place to work, a simple corner of your kitchen or living room can work just as well.
This said the main thing you need to avoid is a space that is full of distractions. If you know that your living room is going to be in use by your kids, partner, or housemates, there’s a high chance that your work is not going to be uninterrupted. Therefore choose your space wisely.
2. Embrace routine
There are a host of reasons why people look to find the prospect of setting your own hours alluring.
You might have other commitments that you couldn’t attend to whilst keeping a conventional job, such as kids or health needs. Or you might simply like the freedom to leave off work for a three-hour lunch.
The good news is that this is possible when freelancing. The bad news is that it doesn’t mean you should seek to escape routine.
Forming a schedule of work is crucial to fostering useful habits regarding freelancing. Without good habits, we can end up losing motivation, eventually disliking our work and abandoning the freelancing lifestyle.
Think carefully about the other commitments you have at home, and build them into your work routine. If you know, for instance, that you have to pick up your kids in the afternoon, then you should schedule your work for the morning.
Conversely, if your housemates or partner work evening shifts, you know that your evenings are free from distraction so you can build your routine around that.
3. Practice self-care
With a routine in mind, you might be tempted to get into the habit of staying up late and getting up early in order to get your work done. This means that you are likely to be bringing undue stress into your life, which in turn means that your work will not be your best.
Without a line manager to keep you in check, overwork and bad sleep can turn your dream job into a stressful experience. If you get too obsessed with work, you could end up skipping meals or not even going outside.
This is detrimental to not only your output but to your body. You should always take the time to eat lunch, exercise and practice self-care.
When deadlines approach you can start to feel your vitality slipping. It’s especially important that you’ve set up an appropriate routine before you start to feel the crunch so that you don’t burn out at these times.
4. Dress for success
“How you dress isn’t always to make an impression upon other people,’ writes fashion blogger Robert H. Goldthwaite. “The most important person you should dress for is yourself.”
You might not see the motivation to dress up when you are going to stay at home, but how we dress is indicative of our mindset.
If you’re working in your pyjamas, subconsciously your mind is reacting as if you were going to bed, slowing down your cognitive functions.
However, if you dedicate clothes in which to work in, you’ll soon find that your focus improves and you find it easier to perform the tasks you’ve been set.
In addition, if you have others in your house who would usually try to interrupt your time if you are dressed casually, a set of work clothes is a non-verbal reminder.
Dressing professionally dictates a certain amount of respect that will keep your kids, partner or housemates mindful that you need to get things done.
5. Break each task down
Sometimes we are presented with jobs or tasks that might seem overwhelming, and it can be easy to end up panicking at the prospect of addressing them.
Each of these jobs feels almost insurmountable and we lose the confidence needed to overcome them. But there are always ways to break a job down to its component parts.
Instead of just trying to attack a larger job straight away, take some time to look at these tasks and set a timeline for how each of those tasks can be achieved.
Before you know it you’ll have made a good dent in that seemingly insurmountable job and you’ll start to feel that much-needed motivation return.
6. Stay in the zone
Getting into the swing of a task is a thrilling feeling, and feel your confidence surge and your work is energized. But sometimes, just as we hit our stride, we feel the tug of distraction, especially if we are interrupted.
This is where it is crucial to hold on to that feeling of forward traction. Whilst you are rolling forward with a task, try to capture that moment in your head before you are distracted or interrupted.
Though it’s unhealthy to feel guilty about not getting on with your work, you should recognize that it’s only natural to be distracted occasionally.
To combat this, set reminders for yourself to get back into the zone. This can be done with notes you set yourself, a physical schedule, or even alarms on your phone to keep you focused.
7. Get out when you can
“The home of a freelancer should be a quiet, productive one. But sometimes that quiet and solitariness can be disruptive in itself,” writes Janet M. Rendle of Draftbeyond. “Inspiration can dry up very quickly if we don’t get out once in a while.”
Though you want to maintain productivity for as long as possible, we don’t want to become hermits. Fresh air and daylight, and exercise are integral to a healthy mind, and a healthy mind will perform better.
So make sure that you spend time away from your desk, out of your house, so you can enjoy the freedom you might not get at a traditional job.
About the author:
Charles Phan is a Marketing graduate who writes about business strategy and start-ups. He is a regular contributor and proofreader at Gum Essays academic website.