Are you new to freelancing? Maybe you just launched your own company? Congratulations, you're now your own boss! But how do you plan to meet deadlines when the only boss breathing down your neck is you? I've collected my top five tips to self-motivate and fight procrastination.
#1: Love to List It
I am a pretty forgetful person, so my life is governed by lists. I keep lists on my phone, my computer, my notebook, and my planner. If it is on a list, then I know I will not forget to do it. Make your own To-Do lists to start off your new path of self-motivation! Break down everything into the most basic of steps, giving you more to cross off by the end of the day. A To-Do list is intended to help you feel successful, not overwhelmed, so create a list that is motivating to you!
Pro tip: Advanced list writers may choose to divide things into "Today", "Tomorrow", and "Future" categories. This will help you stay focused on what needs to get done now and what can wait!
Once you have your list written down, it will probably look pretty scary. My lists often contain items I know won't be done for several weeks. So where do you start?
You do not need go through and determine the priority of each and every thing on your list. Instead, the best method I have found is to just pick one thing you know you can get done today, and prioritize that as your one and only goal. If you get that one thing done today, you will be satisfied with your efforts. Getting one thing done is better than getting nothing done!
After completing that one goal, you may choose to continue your success and complete one more thing on your list. Maybe two more! But remember you have to start somewhere, so pick one attainable goal instead of getting overwhelmed by trying to do the entire list at once.
#3: Treat Yo' Self
Have you been craving a Pumpkin Spice Latte all day? Still thinking about that pair of shoes you saw in the store last week? Use these as rewards for getting work done! But make sure that the smaller the milestone, the smaller the reward. You don't need to be justifying an outrageous purchase just because you sent one email.
Instead, create a list of goals and corresponding rewards. Hang it up somewhere you can see it daily to remind yourself what you are working towards each day. In a few weeks or months, that big purchase will feel so much more satisfying knowing you earned it from all the work goals you've been crushing!
Focusing on work for long periods of time is mentally exhausting. I often hit mental blocks after about 1 - 2 hours. Allowing yourself to take a brief break may be all you need to reset and see things with a fresh perspective. A break may be getting up to make a cup of coffee, doing some short exercises, or running to the store. Beware of looking at your phone, though - that is a trap that can be hard to get out of!
Breaks can even be as small as 30 seconds of staring into space. Just look up or out a window, let your eyes relax and your mind wander. After a few deep breaths, you can pick back up with renewed vigor. These short intervals of relaxation and focus is kind of like a mental HIIT workout! You are building your stamina for focusing on work tasks.
#5: Ready, Set, Start!
My final tip can be called "Just Do It". Sit down at your desk and start typing, writing, drawing - anything to start the creative process. The best way to help with this is to have timed bursts of "doing". Set your phone timer for 15 minutes and just go!
The first 15 minutes may be difficult to find your flow. But after a short break, reset the timer and go again. Eventually, you will find your momentum, and you won't want to stop at the 15 minute mark. You'll blink and an hour of work will be completed!
Becoming self-motivated is 100% practice. Every day, find ways to implement some of these tips into your workflow, and eventually your willpower to get things down will be stronger than it ever has before. Say "goodbye" to procrastinating and "hello" to crushing your goals!