Your dream has finally come true: You are your own boss working from home on your own time. You can choose your hours, your workload, your clients, your ethics, and even your own dress code. Working from home definitely has its benefits—but it’s also easy to pick up bad habits if you lack self-discipline.
“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.”
Discipline: It may sound like some sort of punishment, but it is really the foundation of your business. You need to put in the hours and dedication if you want to stay competitive and keep yourself at the top of your game.
Let’s take a look at how you can welcome self-motivation into your freelance work life at home. Here are 10 techniques and tips that can positively impact your productivity—and revenue—to help give you an edge.
1. Up and at ‘em
Wake up early and “get to work” on time. Your office might only be a few steps away, but you still need to make the transition from “home” to “office”. Be on time for yourself. A late start in the day can quickly become a bad habit and reduces your ability to take yourself and your work seriously. Routine is your best friend. A study by German biologist Christoph Randler found morning people are typically more proactive; I try to follow standard business hours and start work at 8 a.m.
2. Dress for success
In the lyrics of Roxette—“I’m gonna get dressed for success, shaping me up for the big time, baby”—we see the freelance work ethic personified. Dress the part and say no to rolling out of bed and starting work in your pajamas. They’ve got slacker written all over them.
Take a shower, shave, brush your teeth, etc. Face the new day clean and fresh. You don’t have to put on a business suit, but wear something comfortable and functional. Dr. Karen Pine, a psychology professor, stated that, “When we put on an item of clothing, it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment.”
3. Make a schedule for your goals and stick to it
Your schedule is the map of your business objectives for the week. It shows the steps you are going to take to fulfill your tasks. Yes, it is open to negotiation but you should have it in place as the framework for your entire work output. Set specific, manageable, daily tasks that you can accomplish. Avoid rolling over any unfinished tasks to the next day; playing catch up leads to stress and fatigue.
As I mentioned above, setting standard business hours gives you structure to help strengthen self-discipline. Setting weekly and monthly targets can help you reach your short and long-term goals. Challenge yourself to work as much as you can in a week—without burning out, of course.
4. Stay focused
Get off your social media, your phone, the Internet, etc. Stop responding to every notification beep as if it was bringing you a surge of clientele. It isn’t.
Always finish the task first.
If you get that sudden urge to go make yourself a cup of coffee or quickly get a snack. Don’t. Finish the task first. Then reward yourself later.
5. Get out of the house
While it’s good to stay focused, you also need to take breaks. You’re not under house arrest and you don’t want to feel like you are in a prison of your own making. You can leave—and you should. Go for a walk, go to the gym, meet a friend for lunch, etc. It is good for your health and your sanity.
6. Work in a bright, cheerful home office setting
Choosing where you work in your home is also important. If possible avoid working where you sleep! Keep your bedroom separate from your office (this may also be a tax deduction for you). Also, try to avoid working in the living room or kitchen where you can easily get distracted.
Create a dedicated workspace for yourself—preferably in a sunny, bright, and cheerful part of your home. This is going to be a space where you’ll spend a lot of your time!
7. Remember to upskill yourself
Keep challenging yourself to learn. Take at least an hour a day to learn something new that can enhance your work. Perhaps learn about growing your business online, such as setting up a website or social media pages.
But don’t get too immersed in your new study topic—schedule your learning times, too. Keeping yourself abreast of the latest trends impacting your industry will help keep you competitive.
8. Watch your stress levels
Being your own boss can be a stressful career path to say the least. As a freelancer, try to ensure your stress levels aren’t getting in your way. Stick to your schedule and do your best to solve new and unexpected problems without letting the stress get to you. Realize that success takes patience.
9. Socialize with others
Working from home can lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness. You don’t have co-workers anymore. You may have thought this might be a welcome relief, but you’ll soon find yourself missing the banter, the conversation at the water cooler, and just the basic social interaction.
When your work day has finished, go out and talk to other human beings. You can always take a class or join a group for some engaging interaction. It will do wonders for your psyche and your productivity.
10. Find time for office management duties
Leave the billing, technology upgrades, expense reporting, and other office management duties for your most unproductive times—like the late in the afternoon, when many people experience an energy slump.
“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”
— John D. Rockefeller
Using the above tips will help keep you self-motivated and earning well. Remember: As a freelancer, it’s imperative to have self-discipline and the ability to manage your work from home. Do you have any other tips? Please share in the comments below!