Come back, motivation!
I have to be honest here. I’ve been struggling with motivation. Big time.
Working from home and being your own boss can be so liberating. At first glance, it seems like the ideal scenario - no wasted time commuting, no meetings for meetings sake, no office politics, no wearing stuffy office clothes, no shoes, no need to appear busy even if you’ve already exceeded the days expectations.. the list goes on. I’m not going to lie, I absolutely LOVE that I’ve left all this behind. But it definitely comes with a catch.
Working from home also means that there can be as much, or as little, structure to your day as you please. You don’t have colleagues to bounce off when you’re feeling low. You don’t have a boss to help reign your big ideas in to achievable and focused tasks. There’s no-one to celebrate the wins, or to commiserate the losses with. It’s just you.
Long story short, almost a month ago I had a very unsettled week that was largely out of my control, along with some productivity-limiting tech issues. It took me well out of my usual routine, and I haven’t been able to get back there since. The whole drawn out affair has become paralyzing and a real drag on my confidence.
So I’ve done a bit of research, and I’ve made a plan.
Below are the strategies I’ve started pulling together to get me back into a good work routine, and to bring back some of that confidence for pursuing this creative life. I want to share them with you because so far they’re really helping me, and they might help you too. If I’m really being honest, I also want it right here in black and white to keep myself accountable. Here goes:
Get up early, shower, and present myself for the day
It is way too easy to get up slowly and work in pyjamas for the day when your studio is about five metres from your back door. This sluggish start usually leads to me drifting from task to task, never really finishing things, and a ‘I can get to it tomorrow’ kind of attitude. After years of working in an office, the process of getting up early and getting ready always helps to give me a clear distinction between ‘being at home’ and ‘going to work’.
Make a daily schedule and stick to it
I’ve tried repeatedly to follow a schedule. What usually happens is I go off-track - I start too late in the day, take a longer lunch break, or get side-tracked doing housework - and then flounder around for the rest of the day or week trying to catch up, all while quietly berating and punishing myself for the deviation. So I’ve made up a schedule of time blocks - one that factors in not only my work time, but all of the other strategies on this post too. I’ve also put 15 minutes aside at the end of each day to write a to-do list for the next day. This means I start each new day with a planned routine and planned tasks. If I mess up during the day, I simply carry on as per the original schedule - no catch ups to midnight, no berating myself. Start each day fresh and on track until it feels natural again.
If you thought office work was sedentary, try working from home! I was a very active person for most of my life thus far, but I have definitely slacked in this area in recent years and it shows in both my physical and mental health. I plan to get back into my daily yoga practice before lunch for half an hour (as a starting point).
Be near other humans at least once a week
I’m an introvert, so working alone largely agrees with me, but it can be incredibly isolating at times - even more so living on a rural property. If I don’t drive into town (20+ minute drive), I can go a weeks without seeing anyone but my partner (bless his cotton socks, putting up with my ‘you’re the only person I’ve seen all day’ rambling when he gets home of an afternoon). Each week I now spend a few hours on my laptop at a local cafe working on my website, editing photos, writing blog or newsletter content, and doing concept sketches and illustrations.
We all love a bit of a pay-off for getting things done. So that last point - working a half day in town - I do that on a Thursday afternoon as a reward for staying on track all week. I reeeally look forward to this day, and I know I enjoy it more if I get to it guilt-free after finishing all my tasks in the studio that week.
So that’s my plan and I’m feeling hopeful for a better month ahead.
What are your strategies for keeping motivated?
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