Managing your own schedule, working in your pajamas, no pestering coworkers, and long lunch breaks whenever you please, to name a few. And with how connected we are today, companies keeping people employed from home is becoming more and more common.
When I tell people I am self-employed as a freelance digital marketer, photographer, and writer – they say things like, “That must be the best thing ever,” or “I wish that was my life!”
And don’t get me wrong, I do love it. But when there’s no one around to keep you accountable, it can be easy to fall into bad habits.
Working in an office usually requires some sort of daily routine. Coworkers help fill your day with social interaction. But when you spend your days primarily in solitary, like me, the little victories like closing a new client or reaching a sales milestone just don’t have that sense of collaboration.
So how do you stay motivated when there’s no one around to tell you to knuckle down? Well, I can share some of the things that help me.
And I can be honest – some days even I just give in to my urges and spend the day watching Jersey Shore reruns with my laptop, pajamas, and an extra-large bag of Lay’s potato chips on the couch with my dog, Eli. But, generally, these are my rules for work-from-home entrepreneurship.
1. Have a consistent sleep schedule.
I try to wake up and go to bed at both reasonable times. I have an alarm for 7 am to wake me up and an 11 pm alarm to tell me to get by butt to bed. For me, that’s my sweet spot, but maybe you have your own! The point is, being consistent about your sleep schedule creates a much more practical lifestyle. And if you have a significant other or school-age children, they will likely be near a similar cycle, so everyone can rise and fall together.
2. Put effort into getting dressed and ready, every day.
THIS is the hardest one for me, by far. It’s so tempting to lounge in my pajamas (aka no pants) all day with a crazy sloppy bun, and even skip a shower every once and a while. But without fail, every time I give in to the laziness, someone knocks on the door or stops by to grab me for lunch. Like a fool, I am scrambling to find pants – or worse – my bra is nowhere to be found.
Usually, this leads to me procrastinating my important errands, like buying groceries, cleaning my car, or even checking the mail. That’s not good! Even if it’s just putting on a pair of jeans and brushing your hair, being ready at a moment’s notice will help you stay motivated.
3. Join work-related groups on Facebook.
Fill your sense of community with a private Facebook group for entrepreneurs like you. Spend an hour of each day reading posts from other solopreneurs, and chime in when you have advice or questions. It will help fill that sense of social interaction and community.
Here are some of my favorite groups:
- The Creative Entrepreneurs Network – A brand NEW group to collaborate, educate, share resources, talk entrepreneurship, and give each other support online.
- The Rising Tide Society – A large community of creatives to come together, network, and grow.
- Boss Project – Formerly Think Creative Collective – A collection of bosses to ask questions, network, and share knowledge.
4. Play music to boost your mood.
Sometimes, a motivational throwback jam is just what you need to center and refocus through the self-employed workday. I have a few Spotify playlists that I just can’t live without.
- Tasty Y2K Jams – This is a playlist I made that is just an awesome collection of all of my favorite hits from the 2000s, from all genres. When I am working on something that doesn’t require much attention, this is my go-to.
- ChillStep – My favorite focus playlist for when I am editing, writing, and blogging. If you like house or trance music that is mellow and low-key, you’ll love this one.
- Reading Music – Another playlist I created that is a mix of Enya and Tori Amos. I don’t know why, but the combination is insanely perfect for when I used to read fantasy novels as a teen, now anytime I need to read, I can’t do it without my girls.
5. Try a podcast.
If the music doesn’t help fill the void in your day, there are plenty of great podcasts that will do the trick. What I love about podcasts is that there is so much free educational content online. Choose one in a topic that interests you and it will definitely help keep you productive.
6. Set your office hours – and stick to them.
You’d be running to HR with a hostile work environment claim if your corporate job kept you working 14 hours a day – so don’t treat yourself that way when you work from home. If it requires another alarm to remind you when to start and end the workday, so be it. Yes, your hours are flexible but don’t forget to give yourself time to decompress at the end of each day.
On the same note, don’t be so flexible with your work schedule that you don’t work at all!
7. Don’t forget to stay active/healthy.
I am SO GUILTY of getting a tang or boredom and involuntarily making that trip to the fridge “just to see what’s inside.” If you feel the internal pull to the snack cabinet, try taking your dog for a walk instead. Keep an exercise routine and try not to bring on any new bad habits.
8. Learn new things.
Stay up to date with trends in your niche. Take free classes on LinkedIn. Follow leaders in your industry on social media and keep up with the changes in technology, business, and local news.
9. Join a local networking group.
Stay in connection with like-minded people with your local Chamber of Commerce or small business network. If you have the opportunity to attend in-person meetings or luncheons, take advantage of the opportunity.
10. Volunteer in your community.
Not only will you have the satisfaction of giving back and helping others, but you’ll also improve your mental state!