It’s not for everyone, but I love being self-employed. Not only can I make my own schedule and work from nearly anywhere in the world, I have total control over how my business is run. Sounds great—and it is—but a common problem that faces the self-employed has to do with motivation.
In order to be successful at work, school, or any other aspect of your life, you need to know the best ways to motivate yourself to do work.
When I Had a “Real Job”
Back when I still had a “real” job it was fairly easy to slack off a bit if I didn’t feel like doing much. I could walk down the hall to the break room and buy a snack, or stand at a co-worker’s desk and chit chat for a few minutes to get away from my computer and waste a little time.
Based on the number of Facebook status updates that people post when they’re supposedly at work, I’d have to guess that slacking off at work is a widespread phenomenon.
Now that I’m running the show myself, the bottom line is that I have to work in order to get things accomplished. This summer I have very limited time to work while I’m traveling, and sometimes I simply don’t want to even though I know I have to—especially if I’m near a cool place to visit or hike.
You’ve probably realized that it’s often difficult to get back into the swing of things after you’ve just returned from a vacation or you’ve been sick for a few days, and if you’re anything like me every now and then you just don’t feel like working.
So here’s a great solution if you’re having problems with motivation. Specifically, the following are 15 of my favorite techniques for Here are a few suggestions to take into consideration if you’re feeling lazy and unmotivated.
15 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Do Work NOW
1. Start slow. The saying goes that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and it’s definitely the truth. You’ll never finish responding to fifty e-mails if you can’t bother to respond to the first one. Tell yourself that you’ll answer just one or two of them. Most likely you’ll realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it was, and you’ll keep trudging through your in-box.
2. Think of Pavlov. Pavlov is famous in the field of psychology for his ability to make dogs salivate at the sound of bell. My advice is to set a specific time each day for certain projects or tasks. That way you’ll automatically go into work mindset at this hour…even if you’re not feeling motivated. So if you want to write an eBook, then make an appoint to work one hour as you start your day. After awhile your mind (and body) will respond to this set time.
3. Start on the biggest challenge first. It’s hard to find motivation when you have a task (or project) that is a huge challenge. That’s why I recommend you work your way from the hardest challenge all the way down to the easiest. You’ll gain a lot of emotional energy with this technique. Once the hard part is out of the way, it’s easier to be motivated on the easier tasks.
4. Set milestones that you know you can reach. Be realistic. If you have to tackle a huge project such as designing a new website, it’s going to take awhile. Create a chart or checklist that shows where you need to be each day until the project is complete, and cross though items as you finish them. Once you see that things are getting done, you’ll be motivated to keep going!
5. Create long-term goals that this project will help you accomplish. As you work on that new website, remind yourself that the updated design and fresh content will hopefully lead to more clients … meaning greater income for you! If you don’t work your way through the small milestones that you set, you won’t achieve your ultimate goal.
6. Pretend you actually want to do the task at hand, even though you don’t. People who work in retail are usually good at this. It’s doubtful that they really want to be stuck at work recommending products to customers all the time, but somehow they’re able to fake it and get through the day.
7. Remind yourself that you have to work in order to survive. Running your own business can be difficult at first because it means giving up a regular paycheck. Even though it’s easy to get lazy because you make your own schedule, if you don’t work you won’t receive any money. You have to work in order to pay your bills. It’s that simple.
8. Think about the people you’ll disappoint if you procrastinate. If you promise a client that something will be complete by a certain date, they’ll be expecting it. They won’t be happy if you aren’t able to live up to your end of the deal, and you won’t have a good excuse as to why you were running behind schedule.
9. Focus on the positive. It’s usually a lot easier to focus on the negative aspects of life than the positive, so mix it up a bit. You’re in control of your own income, and that’s awesome! Not everyone can say that they are. Remind yourself of all that’s good in your life, and get back to work. Things could be a lot worse.
10. Figure out shortcuts that will save time. If you can cut your work time in half by hiring someone to help you with it, why not? I’m a fan of outsourcing certain aspects of my business if it will save time and give me the opportunity to get other stuff done.
11. Look forward to being done. Most people can’t wait for Friday because it means the weekend has arrived, and that helps them get through the week. There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to the end of a project if it helps you pull through. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel!
12. Reward yourself at the end. When you’re feeling lazy, tell yourself that you’ll go out to dinner (or finally buy those new shoes you’ve been wanting or anything else that sounds appealing) as soon as you meet a milestone or achieve a goal. There’s a reason that kids receive stickers at school when they do a good job—rewards are exciting!
13. Punish yourself if things don’t get done on time. Just as rewards are good ways to motivate yourself to do work when you don’t want to, punishments can work in a similar manner. Tell yourself that you’re not allowed to watch the movie you’ve been meaning to see or you can’t go to dinner with your friends unless you get through your to-do list. The hardest part is actually enforcing your own punishment, but I’ve found that this tactic really does help me out.
14. Embrace your mistakes. Don’t worry about mistakes… actually they can be a great thing. You can always go back and revise things later. Don’t let the fear of “doing a bad job” keep you from starting the job. If your childhood dream was to be a writer but you’ve since lost that innocent confidence you once had, remind yourself that you’ll never get a novel published if you don’t start writing it.
15. Adjust your work schedule if necessary. Making your own schedule is one of the best parts about self-employment. If you find yourself feeling lazy every single afternoon, give yourself the afternoons off and work in the evening instead. In most cases, it doesn’t matter when you work as long as you actually do it.
These suggestions are just that—suggestions—but I feel that they’re all good ways to motivate yourself to do work. I’ve found that motivation is an offshoot of discipline. If you implement the 15 “hacks” I just described, you’ll find your subconscious takes over whenever you need to do work. So instead of trying to find a reason, you’ll simply get things done!
Now I know motivation is a passion (or obstacle) that many people share. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please comment below and let me know if you have any tricks you personally use to get the motivation to do work.
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