Since I graduated university in 2014, I’ve worked for myself from home. And if you’re wondering, YES, it’s awesome, and YES, I absolutely wear pyjamas most of the time!* That being said, there are certain challenges that arise when you work from home – but I still wouldn’t trade it for the world!
*all of the time.
When you are self-employed and working from home, you’re your own boss. This is AWESOME, but it also makes you accountable only to yourself, and the tough thing about that is you don’t face the same repercussions for not doing your best work, showing up on time, or reaching deadlines. Of course, these difficulties are a double-edged sword because on one hand, only having yourself to answer to is one of the greatest benefits to working for yourself, but it’s also one of the biggest challenges.
When you work for yourself, you can’t call yourself into your own office for a stern talking-to, and you can’t dock your own pay, or put yourself on probation.
When you don’t face the same consequences for not doing your best work as you would if you were employed by someone else, it can be hard to stay motivated and meet deadlines and accomplish your goals. The consequences may not be as immediate as they are when you’re being supervised by someone else, but they can be just as extreme. If you’re not as efficient as you should be, you’re not maximizing your income potential and making your lady boss dreams come true as quickly as you could!
Being self-employed has been a major learning experience for me and today I want to share the things I’ve found have helped me stay motivated and accountable along the way!
TAKE DAYS OFF!
When your home is your office, and you’re in your home every day, you sometimes feel like you’re always at the office. And when you’re at the office, you feel like you should be working.
On Saturday mornings, when most people would be taking time off from work, I often find myself browsing something on my computer when I’m suddenly overcome with a feeling of, “Why am I not working right now?” As in, just because I’m at “the office” I should be working. But this mentality hasn’t served me well in the past.
I find doing little bits every day isn’t as effective as releasing myself from the guilt or pressure of constantly working, and instead, planning days my days more strategically is much more effective. I’m spending the whole day working today because I took the weekend off, and I have the rest of my week planned out in a similar way so I can take this weekend off too! If I spend all day telling myself I should be working, rather than enjoying my time off, I’m less motivated to get back to it as I would be if I approached it refreshed and recharged from time off.
Give yourself guilt-free days when working isn’t your priority, and plan out the days you WILL devote to working. This will make your schedule feel more balanced and much more structured. Ultimately, five hours of super-concentrated work serves me much better than ten hours of half-assed, semi-motivated work that I am doing out of guilt.
This is a big one! When people know you work from home, they often assume your schedule is as flexible as if you had the day off. People seem to think, “If she’s her own boss, she can postpone her work until later, so why can’t she go for lunch with me today?” The problem with this is “later” becomes later, and later, and later.
You will likely need to explain to people (quite regularly) that just because you work from home, you still have a schedule to follow and your time is just as valuable as someone who works in an office environment.
Set boundaries with friends and family about your schedule. This might even mean telling them that from Monday to Friday between 9-5 (or whatever works for you) you’re unavailable for making plans. If you don’t respect your own time, how will anyone else?
CREATE A PRODUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT!
I’ll be the first to admit, I spend a lot of time (especially since my surgery) laying on my couch, laptop on my stomach, working, while the TV plays in the background. Not exactly the most traditional work environment and it also encourages me to be lazy and distracted.
If you don’t work in an environment conducive to productivity and creativity, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and wasting your own time.
Set up a space that makes you feel creative, happy, and peaceful. I have a home office, but I rarely work in it because I don’t find the surroundings particularly comfortable or inspiring. Instead, I like to set up at my kitchen table and surround myself with things I like and work in the natural sunlight that comes through the kitchen windows.
SET GOALS and REWARDS!
Just because you don’t have a “boss” other than yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t be accountable. Write down your goals for each day or week of work you do (whatever works best for you) and document when you achieve them. Checking things off a list, as simple as it is, feels GOOD and it’s motivating to do more and more.
On any given work day I like to write out all the tasks I need to get done that day. Maybe my goal is to schedule five days worth of content for my social media clients, write two blog posts for clients, and one for myself. Checking these off is really satisfying and seeing your goals laid out makes them feel more achievable as having 100 hundred ideas of things you need to get done running through your head.
Most of the time the reward I enjoy for completing my tasks is a guilt-free evening off and the mental satisfaction of knowing I’ve done what I set out to do.
Find out what motivates you and use that as a reward for doing what you say you’re going to do!
That’s it for me today! I’m off to check off other things from my to-do list for the day… including watching Dr. Phil, obviously.
Thanks for reading and please let me know how YOU stay motivated working from home!
– xo, C