Whether you work for yourself or simply have a job that allows you to manage your own time, staying motivated frequently becomes a major hurdle. Working in an office setting where a boss is physically able to keep tabs on your work commonly provides sufficient motivation to keep you on pace. When you set your own schedule, the temptation to procrastinate or allocate time to other activities increases. There are three key tricks you can employ to keep your motivation level up.
Take a Break, Not a Vacation
Regardless of the type of work you do, there are certain job requirements and tasks that are less appealing to complete and fall short of holding your attention. For instance, a freelance writer working from home may be easily sidetracked from rereading and editing a piece he just wrote because he has already spent a significant amount of time and energy putting the information down.
Taking a break is important, but don’t take a vacation. A short respite can help you refuel for doing more work. The key is to avoid taking a lengthy break. Five to 10 minutes gives your mind and body a chance to refresh without losing complete track of what you’re doing. Taking shorter, more frequent breaks can provide ample rest while helping you generally stay on task till you’ve completed the necessary work for the day. In contrast, taking longer breaks often leads to extending those breaks even longer than you intended, interfering with getting a good, solid day of work done.
Whether on paper or computer, put tasks and assignments on a calendar. If you manage your own time, it is important to organize your work and set definite schedules for completing tasks. For most people, simply telling yourself that an article needs to be written or a call needs to be made isn’t enough to keep you on track or prevent you from forgetting important tasks. One effective way to stay organized and motivated is to categorize or code your tasks. For example, writing appointments down in red, papers down in blue, and phone calls down in green is a visual stimulant, and as you continue to document tasks in the same way, your brain automatically assesses colors on the calendar with their category, helping them become more memorable and less easily put off or forgotten.
Deadlines and Rewards
Being your own boss often means being able to set your own deadlines, but it is important to have those deadlines in place. If you give yourself too much time to complete tasks, it becomes easier and easier to lose interest or feel less of an obligation to get them done. The goal is not to set the bar unrealistically high, but to definitely set a bar. Give yourself enough time to complete the job, but not significantly more time than is necessary.
Fuel your motivation by rewarding yourself when you complete a task ahead of schedule. Take an extra 10 minutes of sleep the next morning, go out to lunch, or treat yourself in some other way.