6 Actionable Ways to Stay Motivated When You’re Self Employed

By MBO Partners | May 17, 2024


Key Points

Staying motivated when you work for yourself can be hard when you put in long hours without seeing immediate results.

Staying on task and finding inspiration can help you avoid getting discouraged.

By using these six motivational strategies, you can find inspiration, remain focused on your goals throughout the day, and stay on task.

When you are self-employed, you’ll quickly learn that putting in long hours without seeing immediate payoff is normal. But the pressure of doing it all yourself can be a lot, and it can be easy to lose steam.

Find inspiration, keep on task throughout the day, and maintain focus on your goals by following these six motivational tips.

1. Remember What You’ve Accomplished

When you hit a rough patch or mental block, take a step back and think through everything you’ve accomplished. Review the projects you are most proud of. Why were these projects so successful? Which steps did you take that made the result different or unique? Reflecting on what you’ve accomplished can help you see your current work in a new light and perhaps approach it from a different angle.

Be sure to take time to think back on why you went independent in the first place as well. Were you looking to pursue a career that let you put your specific talents to use? Did you want a better work/life balance? Remind yourself of your initial goals and ensure your daily work is helping you to achieve them.

Check out: 3 Ways to Evaluate Small Business Goals

2. Develop a Routine

It’s not uncommon for independents to struggle with not having a set schedule. Creating a daily routine that helps you stay on track can help you avoid procrastination and distractions and help you stay motivated. List out your objectives for the week and break them down into manageable tasks. You know what time of the day you work best, so structure your days accordingly to maximize productivity.

If you struggle with staying on task and aren’t sure where to start, try the Pomodoro Technique—working in 25-minute increments followed by 5-minute breaks and one longer break after you complete a big task.

3. Don’t Forget About Your Social Life

As many independents know, working from home can be lonely, so be sure to schedule in some social time. Meeting up with other independent professionals to talk about their recent projects, challenges, or future plans can help inspire new ideas and provide perspective. It’s always helpful to have someone you can turn to for advice or talk through ideas with.

Check out: Working From Home: Pros and Cons for the Independent Contractor

4. Find a Change of Scenery

Flexibility is a big asset of being independent, so put it to use. If you’re feeling unmotivated, switch up your office for the day. Work from a coffee shop, try out a co-working facility, or rent an hourly space. Sometimes a change of work environment is just what you need to clear your mind and get a fresh start.

5. Give Yourself a Reward

When you run your own business, there’s no boss or coworker to give you praise for a job well done, making it sometimes difficult to stay motivated. Feeling appreciated is an important aspect of work that’s easy to overlook. Encourage yourself and stay driven by planning out a reward that you can work towards.

Save larger rewards such as a new office gadget or a weekend trip for when you achieve big goals and set smaller rewards such as a walk outside or 20 minutes to catch up on news or social media for when you complete more minor milestones throughout the day.

6. At the End of the Day, Just Let it Go

Despite your best efforts, some days you simply won’t accomplish anything at all. While that feeling can be frustrating, recognize that it’s okay and that it happens. Even if your productivity varies day-to-day, you still have the luxury of flexibility. Use it to your advantage; if you’re having a slow day, work on a personal project, read a book, or do some networking. Then, use days you’re feeling particularly productive to your advantage.

Check out: 10 Ways to Take Advantage of Down Time as a Small Business Owner or Independent Consultant



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