I’ve been self-employed and working from home for the past 4 years, so I’ve gotten pretty good at motivating myself. I still fail sometimes, like on dim rainy days when my dogs coax me over to the couch for a nap, when I feel like I’ve run out of ideas, or when I’m discouraged because things aren’t working out the way I planned. But, overall I think I’m pretty darn productive. Here are my tricks for productive self-employment, and I’d love to hear yours!
Embrace Routine: Every morning after breakfast I make tea and go down to my studio to ship orders, restock, and do other necessary stuff like that. I reserve my afternoons for creative pursuits like sketching, photography, blogging, and such. Having a general idea of how my work days are going to be spent helps me stay on track.
Make Daily Lists: I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from crossing items off a list. I’ve found that weekly to do lists don’t work for me because I can easily put off the crappy tasks. It’s no fun when the weekend rolls around, and I have a whole list of awful chores left to do. I need short to do lists with 4–6 things I can reasonably accomplish in a day.
Self-Reward: All I really want to do is work in my sketchbook all day, but there are plenty of other things to do around here to keep Wit & Whistle running. I reward myself in small ways when I complete (or while I’m completing) an important, but not-so-fun task. I might binge watch a guilty pleasure TV series on Netflix while packaging a large wholesale order. Or, during busy seasons shipping orders can be quite a time consuming chore, so I’ll get a bag of Jelly Bellies and eat one delicious bean for every few orders I ship. When I finish my taxes each quarter I buy myself a little something I’ve been pining for on Etsy. Self-rewarding keeps the procrastinator inside me in check by making less desirable duties more enjoyable. (I said “duties”… haha!)
Track Time: Keeping track of what I spend my time doing (usually) prevents me from accidentally browsing Pinterest for an hour in the middle of a work day. I use Yast to track what I do all day. Knowing that I’m being held accountable for my time helps me stay on task (even if no one ever looks at my time sheets but me).
Be grateful: Whenever I stop to think about how blessed I am to have the opportunity to pursue my dreams, my productivity levels spike. I don’t want to look back later in life and wonder what might have happened if I had been more motivated. I want to know that I used my time well and reached my full potential!