There’s a lot to love about self-employed life—setting your own hours, working when and where you like, getting to pursue your passion every day—but running your own business is no easy feat. When you’re your own boss, there’s no one to tell you what to do, how to do it, or when to do it.
When you put in long hours without seeing immediate payoff, 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.
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? What steps did you take that made the end 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.
It’s also important to take time to think back on why you went independent in the first place. Were you looking to pursue a career that let you put your specific talents to use? Did you want better work/life balance? Remind yourself of your initial goals and ensure your daily work is helping you to achieve them.
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. 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 when you complete a big task.
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 bounce ideas off of.
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.
When you run your own business, there’s no boss or coworker to give you praise for a job well done. 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.
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.
As an independent contractor, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where work begins and where it ends. Draw a line using these three steps.
Four tips for independent consultants to avoid career burnout.