Sometimes the hardest part of being your own boss isn’t getting clients and earning a steady income. Instead, it’s finding the motivation to actually do the work you’ve been given.
We know a lack of motivation doesn’t mean you don’t love your freelance business, but it does mean you should take notice and adopt some strategies to get you back on track.
Time to check your attitude.
When your motivation starts to slip, recognize it and address it immediately. Your lack of motivation is telling you something is wrong with the way you’re thinking about your work beyond just being in a bad mood.
You can be in a REALLY bad mood, but still be ultimately motivated toward your goal. Equally, you could be in a great mood but struggling to focus on the work you should be doing. Instead of blaming your mood, you need to get to the why you’re lacking the motivation.
Maybe you don’t feel like you have autonomy any more. Or that you’re not growing your craft. Or that your work no longer has purpose. Or that you’re burnt out. Or that you’re afraid you’re not skilled enough for the job.
The reasons for losing your motivation to work are very personal, so there’s no one size fits all method to get it back. You just have to acknowledge what’s really keeping you from getting to work and never forget why you wanted to start your own business in the first place.
Now, here are five of our favorite productivity hacks to get your work done while you finish up your soul searching:
1. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…GO
There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to do something and your mind killing it. It’s a 5 second window. And it exists for everyone.
But if you do one simple thing, you can prevent your mind from working against you. You can start the momentum before the barrage of thoughts and excuses hit you at full force.
What do you do?
According to research by Mel Robbins, when you feel like you just “can’t,” start counting backwards to yourself from 5, and do the thing you need to do.
It’s simple and it’s actually grounded in real science. Counting down is a tactic known as psychological intervention, and it helps you override feeling unmotivated.
2. Eat the frog
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long.
Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. Postponing eating your “frog” leaves a feeling of anxious dread hanging over you and just spreads doom and gloom to your other tasks.
So eat the frog, get some ticks on your to-do list.
3. Cut yourself off from social media
It’s no wonder we can’t get things done when we spend hours of everyday staring mindlessly at a screen that magically sends us funny videos and updates from our friends.
If given the choice between work and text from dog, honestly who wouldn’t choose text from dog?
Make it easier on yourself and tune out of social media. Turn off notifications on your phone. Set specific times that you’re allowed to check social media sites and ONLY check at these times.
4. Put tasks in your calendar
Put everything you need to do in your calendar. Block off the amount of time you estimate it will take you to complete your task so you actually make the time to do it.
This only takes about 5 minutes to do and adding tomorrow’s tasks to your calendar is a great way to finish up the day, keeps you from feeling overwhelmed first thing in the morning, and makes your day flow a million times smoother.
Your future self will thank you.
5. Break your projects into bite-size pieces
Since we’ve already gone gross food metaphors, here’s another from Creighton Abrams: “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” Clearly, no one is encouraging dining on these majestic animals, but it’s good advice about how to tackle a huge, overwhelming project.
When you’re lacking the motivation to do something, break it into small, actionable, and measurable, steps. This will give you a sense of accomplishment at every step, which helps you want to keep going.
For example, let’s look at a client logo project. You could say “design logo” or break it down like this:
- Gather information, requirements, and specs from client
- Research competition
- Create initial sketches
- Draft top 3 options and send to client for review
- Finalize client’s choice
- Deliver final logo file…Done!
Feeling motivated and ready to crush the day? Remember, entrepreneurialism comes with its ups and downs, and a lack of motivation doesn’t mean the end.
Remember your why, and stay positive.
Originally published at blog.moonlighting.com on September 5, 2018.